Sablan says govt paid over $17K already to foot Torres’ utility bills


Rep. Christina E. Sablan (D-Saipan) said they have seen some of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ utility bills amounting to more than $17,000 that were paid by the CNMI government in the last few years.

Sablan said they found this based on incomplete records obtained from the Department of Finance.

The lawmaker talked about Torres’ utility bills last week in response to Saipan Tribune’s inquiry about the Governor’s official residence on Capitol Hill.

Sablan said it is her understanding that the governor’s official residence is abandoned and derelict and that the government hasn’t provided housing for years. That has resulted in the governor living in his own home. It was earlier explained that, with the government failing to provide Torres an official residence, the Department of Finance has shouldered the utility bills at the governor’s private residence.

Sablan said Finance has authorized such payment for years but nothing in the law actually provides for that. “Where the abuse has happened has been in the payment of utility bills at the governor’s private residence,” she said.

When sought for comment, press secretary Kevin Bautista responded by saying that Sablan, “as always, will continue to cherry pick records and information about the governor and lieutenant governor in order to fit her political agenda.”

Bautista said former governor Juan N. Babauta was the last governor to stay in the governor’s official residence. Since then, he said, every governor has stayed at their private residence, decreasing what is financially obligated to maintain the public governor’s residence on Capital Hill. Yet Sablan did not raise a flag during the Benigno R. Fitial administration nor the Eloy S. Inos administration, he said.

“But of course, she will continue to pursue her political agenda over more important Commonwealth matters,” Bautista said.

Torres recently said he wishes he could stay at the governor’s residence as provided by the CNMI Constitution but pointed out that he is unable to do so at present since “there is no government housing.”

Torres said security is among the reasons why the Constitution provides housing for the governor and lieutenant governor.

Rep. Richard T. Lizama (D-Saipan) recently introduced a bill that will remove taxpayer-funded housing for the governor, lieutenant governor, Senate president, and House speaker.

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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