A special election for Precinct 3 will be held in 30 days in order to fill the vacant seat left by the untimely passing of former vice speaker Francisco S. Dela Cruz (R-Saipan), according to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres.
The 56-year-old Dela Cruz died last Sunday on Tinian causing one House seat in the incoming 21st Legislature to become vacant. His remains were flown to Saipan last Monday. The 21st Legislature starts Monday.
Article II, Section IX of the CNMI Constitution states that a special election must take place in order to fill that vacancy: “A vacancy in the Legislature shall be filled by special election if one-half or more of the term remains.”
Torres said that the House must first held its inaugural session where incoming House Speaker B.J. T. Attao (R-Saipan) must inform the Executive Branch of the vacancy. “They [House] will be giving me the certification as to the vacancy slot of [Rep.] Dela Cruz.”
“I will be certifying that [declaration of vacancy] with the Attorney General and we will then coordinate with the [Commonwealth Election Commission]. A special election will be held in 30 days to fill that vacancy.”
CEC administrative officer Kayla Igitol earlier said the special election is open to anybody, which means other people who are qualified to run for the Precinct 3 seat can join the race and not just the candidates who lost in the general election last November.
She said the six candidates who lost in the race for Precinct 3 seats last Nov. 13 would need to submit once more their petitions for candidacy with the CEC.
Igitol said the CEC board will review the petitions for candidacy for approval.
She said the absentee voters for Precinct 3 would also need to vote again.