Saipan delegation panel tasked to review casino commish nominees


Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation chair Ray Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan) has referred to the delegation’s Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee the review and recommendation whether to approve or reject three of Gov. Eloy S. Inos’ nominees to the regulatory Casino Commission. This comes over a month since the Lottery Commission granted Best Sunshine International Ltd. an exclusive license to develop $3.14-billion integrated casino resort on Saipan.

The JGO Committee is chaired by Rep. Christopher Leon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan).

The nominees are former Marianas Public Land Trust board trustee Alvaro A. Santos, former representative Joseph C. Reyes, and businessman Juan M. Sablan.

In a Sept. 17 memo, Tebuteb gave the delegation committee 30 days to submit its recommendation.

Leon Guerrero said yesterday his committee will work on this task within the timeframe provided. He said they plan on conducting a public hearing on these nominations as early as next week.

During the Sept. 16 delegation session, a request to the delegation was offered in a motion to call for a public hearing on the nominations. There was also a request for the nominees to appear before the delegation.

“I respectfully request your committee to meet and discuss the manner in which to address this matter,” Tebuteb told Leon Guerrero.

Sen. Pete Reyes (Ind-Saipan) had wanted the delegation to vote on the three nominations during Tuesday’s session, to no avail.

Tebuteb said the nominees representing Saipan will face careful scrutiny from the committee and the delegation as a whole to ensure that their qualifications and background comply with the casino law.

The governor reappointed former board trustee Alvaro A. Santos on Aug. 15. Santos previously served as Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief financial officer. Inos withdrew Santos’ previous appointment when it became apparent that the Saipan legislative delegation couldn’t act on the nomination within the required 90-day period. Tebuteb said it must be noted that the Senate once rejected Santos’ reappointment to the MPLT board over financial and policy decision issues.

Haidee V. Eugenio | Reporter
Haidee V. Eugenio has covered politics, immigration, business and a host of other news beats as a longtime journalist in the CNMI, and is a recipient of professional awards and commendations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental achievement award for her environmental reporting. She is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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