Senate confirms Sablan, Yatar as election commissioners


Jesus I. Sablan and Esther A. Yatar

The Senate confirmed Friday the re-appointment of Jesus I. Sablan and Esther A. Yatar to serve as election commissioners representing the third and first senatorial districts, respectively.

At a special session in the Senate chamber, all eight senators present voted “yes” for the confirmation of Sablan’s re-appointment as commissioner representing the third senatorial district, or Saipan and the Northern Islands.

Sablan, 74, has served as chairman of the Commonwealth Election Commission board since 2018. His four-year term as commissioner expired Thursday. No commissioner is interested to replace him as chairman.

The same eight senators voted “yes” for the confirmation of Yatar’s re-appointment representing first senatorial district, or Rota. Yatar’s four-year term also expired Thursday.

Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian) was absent. Acting Senate president Sen. Justo S. Quitugua (R-Saipan) presided over the session.

Sen. Francisco Q. Cruz (R-Tinian), who chairs the Senate Executive Appointments and Government Investigations Committee, said the committee recommends the confirmation of both Sablan and Yatar to continue serving as CEC commissioners after review and consideration of the testimonies provided.

Cruz said the committee has examined pertinent documents relating to the executive appointment and credentials of Sablan and Yatar. He said that, based on their assessment of Sablan’s and Yatar’s credentials, experiences, testimonies, goals for CEC and other relevant issues, the committee is convinced that the two have the qualifications and leadership skills necessary to continue serving as members of CEC.

Sen. Edith E. DeLeon Guerrero (D-Saipan) brought to Sablan’s attention the camera issue at the Department of Corrections, as disclosed by Corrections Commissioner Wally F. Villagomez during a budget hearing last June 23. DeLeon Guerrero said that what caught her attention during her review of the hearing’s video recording is that some cameras at DOC may require repairs and maintenance. She said her understanding is the ballot boxes that will be used this November are being secured at a DOC facility. The senator asked Sablan to look into this issue to make sure that the ballots are protected and the integrity of the election process is not compromised.

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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