Question of Propst’s replacement still up in the air


The question of who will replace former lawmaker Edwin K. Propst as a representative of Precinct 1 in the House of Representatives remains up in the air, with neither Gov. Ralph DLG Torres nor House Speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao (R-Saipan) appointing a replacement.

A check with the House of Representatives yesterday afternoon showed that Attao has yet to announce a vacancy.

Speaking at last week’s radio news briefing, Torres said he will look at what the law states and then he will follow what the law requires him to do. Torres said he believes he has 30 days to appoint someone to fill that vacancy. “I do plan to fulfill [what the law requires],” said the governor.

Propst resigned last Oct. 1; his term was supposed to end on Jan. 11, 2021. His name is still on the ballot for this Nov. 3 general elections. He has yet to answer Saipan Tribune’s question as to what he will do if Precinct 1 voters elect him anew.

With Propst’s resignation, Franklin Reyes Babauta, a retired official of the Department of Public Safety, will likely be given the chance to serve Precinct 1 and the Commonwealth in the two-plus months that remain in Propst’s term. Babauta has also yet to respond to Saipan Tribune’s question whether or not he is interested in being appointed to the position.

Attao earlier stated that the CNMI Constitution requires vacancies in the Legislature to be filled by the appointment of the unsuccessful candidate with the most votes in the previous election. Attao said that, if he is not mistaken it’s Babauta. He conceded, though, that the individual also has to accept the appointment.

Babauta, who ran as an independent candidate, landed in seventh place in the 2018 election for Precinct 1, where there were six vacant House positions.

Babauta’s wife, Celina, is running under the Democratic Party for House Precinct 1 this Nov. 3.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at
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