Editor’s Note: The following is a statement from the majority bloc of the House of Representatives in the 22nd Commonwealth Legislature:
A crime was committed against our people [Wednesday] afternoon. Sens. Jude Hofschneider, Francisco Cruz, Karl King-Nabors and Victor Hocog perpetrated a great injustice against our system of government, the framers of our constitution, and our people.
Six times the roll was called to convict the governor and six times these senators betrayed the public’s trust when they voted no. Despite 8,000 pages of evidence and hours of video-recorded witness testimonies available to prove the Articles of Impeachment, these senators ignored their duty to the people of the Commonwealth and sided with the governor. Simply put, they chose politics over the people.
What happened [Wednesday] afternoon comes as no surprise for the result of the governor’s Impeachment trial was determined when the Senate adopted its rules that purposefully bound the hands of House of Representatives and provided Gov. Ralph Deleon Guerrero Torres a virtual “get out of jail free” card.
After the one-sided rules were in place, the Senate president continued to mock the process when he either changed the rules to accommodate the governor’s defense or blatantly violated the rules altogether. The governor’s lawyers were even permitted to testify on matters of fact in lieu of questioning witnesses, and they did so without taking an oath.
There were no prosecutors, no cross-examination, no objections to procedural violations, and no rebuttals to misinformation. And when the senators attempted to freely ask questions of the defense witnesses, the Senate president compelled them to put all their questions to him in writing, and then he screened their questions, censored some of them, and restricted follow-ups.
This was not a trial. This was a travesty of justice.
Another casualty of [Wednesday] afternoon’s proceedings was the Senate’s integrity. By virtue of their actions [that] afternoon, the Senate confirmed its standing as nothing more than an extension of the Executive Branch, with Senate President Jude Hofschneider presiding as Gov. Torres’s appointed resident director of Legislative Affairs.
Every cloud has a silver lining, and the same goes for the dark cloud that will remain over the Senate until this November. Throughout this farce, the interests of the CNMI were championed by Sens. Paul Manglona, Teresita Santos, and Edith Deleon Guerrero. In the face of ridicule and censorship from the Senate president, these three withstood the attacks from their colleagues and overcame obstacles to voice the will of the people.