An emotional Georgia Muna Cabrera, the acting commissioner of the Department of Corrections, faced the Senate yesterday during a hearing on her appointment to the department’s top post.
Cabrera, who was nominated to the post by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres early this month, received overwhelming support, despite her nerves, from those who spoke during a public comment period yesterday.
“This is one of those moments that I am nervous,” she told senators yesterday. “Please excuse me, I am really shaking,”
Cabrera, who began her time at Corrections in 1995, said through hard work and dedication she worked her way up the ranks. Cabrera is currently ranked as captain.
“Officers and staff are the backbone of the department and I will not forget where I came from,” Cabrera said.
The acting commissioner assured senators that she would do what is in the best interest of the department, the CNMI, and the Corrections inmates, saying that she asked the lord for strength and wisdom everyday to overcome obstacles.
Robert Guerrero, Department of Public Safety commissioner and the most recent Corrections commissioner, lauded Cabrera for rising through challenges, and acknowledged some of these may have been discriminated because of her sex.
No one knows the facility more than Cabrera, Guererro said. “She was mean but she was fair. I’ve seen firsthand how she took personal interest in the men and women of the department.”
Guerrero called Cabrera “nosy” but added this was “good,” and that Cabrera “knew everything that needs to be done” at the department to ensure the welfare of inmates.
Erlinda Naputi, acting Joeten Kiyu Public Library director and Cabrera’s sister, shared the sacrifices Cabrera made to help their ailing grandparents, saying that her sister took a job as a cashier while in school and then went on to serve in the U.S. military, where she sent a monthly allowance to the family.
Naputi said that in 1991, with “a heavy heart” Cabrera left the military to continue to take care of her grandparents and siblings and in 1995 joined Corrections, where she rose in ranks from corrections officer 1, to corrections officer 2, to sergeant, then to lieutenant, and then captain.
“We are proud of her achievements,” Naputi said.
John Manglona, of Grace Christian Church, said the inmates in Bible study asked him to show his support of Cabrera.
“She’s good, she goes by the book,” Manglona said, relaying what the inmates told him.
Gregorio M. Sablan Jr., director of the Veterans Affairs Office and Cabrera’s brother, said “this little rascal” before them served the country both in peace and in wartime.
Sablan said Cabrera would sometimes seek the advice of their father, who has since passed.
“Georgia,” Sablan said, recalling their father’s words, “leadership is not about titles and positions, leadership is about actions and taking care of people.”
“Everything that we do,” Sablan said, “we prefer our actions do the talking.”
Nora Sablan, a member of Cabrera’s high school graduating class, said Cabrera wouldn’t have been there if she wasn’t the “nosy one. “The one to ask questions, the one who does her homework,” she said.
Senators also took turns applauding the acting commissioner.
Senate vice president Arnold Palacios (R-Saipan) came away impressed with the “human dimension” or human story of Cabrera, saying that he’s sat through a bunch of hearings on appointments in his short time in the Senate “but I have never heard of a testimonial on the personal side of a nominee.”
“I am impressed by the personal sacrifices that you made for your siblings and your family” and professional development, Palacios said.
“You have seen and done,” Sen. Justo Quitugua (Ind-Saipan) also said, “[now you need to do] what needs to be seen and done in the Department of Corrections.”