Senate confirms Cepeda to CEC, 3 others to NMTI board


Keith Stewart, Zenn Joseph Q. Tomokane, and Irene N. Holl pose with senators, and officers and staff of the Northern Marianas Technical Institute board of trustees after a confirmation hearing yesterday afternoon. The Senate confirmed the appointment of Stewart and Tomokane, and the re-appointment of Holl as members of NMTI Board. (Ferdie De La Torre)

The Senate confirmed yesterday the appointment of Police Lt. Jesus S. Cepeda to serve as a commissioner for the Commonwealth Election Commission, representing Saipan.

At the same session, the Senate also confirmed the appointment of Keith Stewart and Zenn Joseph Q. Tomokane, and the re-appointment of Irene N. Holl, to serve as members of the Northern Marianas Technical Institute board of trustees representing Saipan.

All nine senators voted “yes” for the confirmation of Cepeda, Stewart, and Tomokane.

Six senators voted “yes” and three voted “no” for the confirmation of Holl. Sens. Edith E. DeLeon Guerrero (D-Saipan), Paul A. Manglona (Ind-Rota), and Teresita A. Santos (Ind-Rota) voted against Holl’s confirmation.

Before voting, DeLeon Guerrero mentioned Holl’s statement during Super Typhoon Yutu when Holl allegedly poked fun at a veteran with respect to donations for Rota.

“I saw your actions regarding veterans and I am a mother of a veteran. I have to tell you that it deeply pained me that you mocked a veteran, which is one of the priority target population of any workforce system,” the senator said.

Holl said she does not even remember making any offensive statement to any veteran.

“So I would like to at least be reminded, please, because if I said something that offended you, I really apologize if I offended you or the veteran. I apologize if I did,” Holl said.

She stated that she may have said something as a joke or that she did not know that a statement would offend the veteran or anyone. “I apologize humbly if I offended anybody,” Holl said.

After the voting, Sen. DeLeon Guerrero congratulated Holl and hugged her.

The Senate Committee on Executive Appointments and Government Investigations chaired by Sen. Francisco Q., Cruz (R-Tinian) recommended the confirmation of the four appointees.

Cruz said the committee has examined all pertinent documents related to the appointment of Cepeda, Stewart, Tomokane, and the re-appointment of Holl.

Cruz said the committee stated several recommendations, issues, and concerns to the appointees that are included in their report.

The senator said that, based on the overall assessment of the appointees’ credentials, experiences, testimonies, goals for the agency, and other relevant issues considered, the committee is convinced that they have the qualification and leadership skills to serve as members of the CEC and Northern Marianas Technical Institute board of trustees.

Regarding Cepeda’s confirmation, there are now three commissioners representing Saipan. There are still two vacant positions for Saipan.

There are two Rota commissioners. For Tinian there is one commissioner and one vacant position.

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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