SNILD visits IPI villas, proposed burial site for ancestral bones

Posted on Jun 22 2020


Legislators had a tour of the Imperial Palace Resort’s presidential suits, as well as of the site where ancestral remains are to be reburied, last Thursday.

Members of the Saipan & Northern Islands Legislative Delegation accepted the invitation extended by Commonwealth Casino Commission chair Edward C. Deleon Guerrero to visit the facility earlier this month during a joint hearing of both the House and the Senate Gaming Committee.

In an interview, House Gaming Committee chair Ralph Yumul (R-Saipan) acknowledged that the facility is very impressive, but there is still are a lot of work to be done. They were also hoping to speak with IPI’s mother company’s chair/executive director Cui Li Jie, who was not around during the tour.

When asked about his thoughts on the villas, Yumul’s personal take is that it would be a shame not to complete the facility. “We came this far already for it to come to a shut down, if it does, we don’t know. We don’t know if there’s going to be a receivership, where the court takes over so that they get their labor issues cleared out, the fines, the penalties.”

“It would be a shame, we came so close to completing it and then now, [if] it’s stopped it’s [going to] hurt everyone, the community, the CNMI government. We pretty much put all our eggs into one basket, we’re almost there but it’s having to look a lot dimmer now,” he added.

“There’s also uncertainty with what’s going on with the federal case and all the lawsuits…so there are more questions than what we’re able to ask,” he added.

Rep. Joel Camacho (R-Saipan), who said the facilities are “amazing,” hopes that the place comes to fruition when the economy starts to recover, to help the people of the CNMI.

While impressed with the facility, Yumul stressed that legislators still need to question IPI, with CCC’s guidance as they are “the arm” that can communicate with the owners of IPI.

“There is some confusion…there [are] a lot of moving parts now with the casino. It is what it is. We’re just [going to] have to wait and see—if that does materialize—where we get to meet with the owners or at least higher-ranking officials of IPI, to get some clarity on what’s going on in regards to payroll and other issues they have right now here in the CNMI,” Yumul said.

As for the burial site, Rep. Sheila Babauta (D-Saipan) said at the SNILD session Thursday that she was grateful to have been brought to the proposed burial location for the ancestral bones dug up at the construction site.

“It was discussed how the location is big…even though the number of bones isn’t as much. I’m glad that we are trying to properly and respectfully bury our ancestors,” she added.

With the burial location set to be completed in July, Babauta encouraged Rep. Luis John Castro (R-Saipan) to partner with the Historic Preservation Office in planning for the reburial of the ancestral bones, adding that the burial, being a first, will set a precedent as to how the CNMI would move forward when burying ancestral bones that are being recovered.

Iva Maurin | Correspondent
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at

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