Tina Sablan says she’s shocked IPI’s license still not revoked


Rep. Christina Marie E. Sablan (D-Saipan), the NMI Democratic Party’s candidate for governor in the November general election, said the responsibility for Saipan casino licensee, Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC, falls squarely on Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ administration.

“I’m just frankly shocked that they still have their license, that it still hasn’t been revoked,” said Sablan in her response to the question during a press conference as to how she will deal with IPI if elected governor.

Describing IPI as “monstrosity” and “a scar in the tourist district,” Sablan believes they should not even be talking about what they’re going to do with IPI, but rather about what they should do with it now.


Last September and October, Commonwealth Casino Commission executive director Andrew Yeom filed five complaints against IPI, each of them seeking the immediate revocation of IPI’s exclusive Saipan casino license, for alleged unwillingness to comply with CCC’s final order in different enforcement actions that were previously entered. The CCC board has yet to hear the complaints.

Sablan said one of the things they tried to do in the House of Representatives side was insert language in a budget legislation to mandate a market feasibility study to look at the viability of the casino industry, and what options there might be.

Sablan said the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything, it has changed the future of the gaming industry worldwide, and it has changed the nature of tourism.

“We thought that we would benefit from some professional expertise and impartial expertise, and a study would be a good way to begin,” she said.

Sablan underscored the importance of having such feasibility study to help guide decision making and the policies that they would enact going forward.

She said the Senate agreed to keep it in the language but Torres vetoed it. The lawmaker said they tried to override it, but they didn’t have the numbers to override the veto.

“And so we’ll keep trying. I do think it’s important to get the data and really have a realistic picture of how we move forward with the casino industry,” Sablan added.

As to which previous CNMI governors they admire the most, Rep. Leila Haveia Fleming C. Staffler, who is Sablan’s running mate for the gubernatorial election, said she learned a lot about the late governor Eloy Inos’ fiscal responsibility by talking with different people.


Staffler said that when Inos was the Department of Finance chief, he would tell the governor, “No, you cannot get that reimbursed; no, you cannot fly first class.”

She said she respects a person at whatever level they are telling the leadership that what they’re doing is not right. “If you are following your policies and you have the fortitude to tell that to a superior, that’s something that I admire,” she said.

Staffler added that she also admired the CNMI’s first governor Carlos Camacho’s innovation when it comes to thinking. She said Camacho had great innovation about how to protect farmers, for example, with respect for the food stamp system.

The lawmaker said CNMI is in a unique place in the world that has a food stamp system, because it makes sure that a certain percentage of the food stamp is dedicated to local farming.

“That doesn’t happen anywhere else,” she said.

Sablan said she admired the qualities of the late governor Pedro “Teno” Tenorio, Camacho, and the late governor Froilan Tenorio.

Sablan said Pedro Tenorio was very well loved by many people and that one of his qualities that she admires was that he truly cared about the people that he served. She said she has heard so many things about Pedro Tenorio such as driving himself to work, and doing other little things like being willing to connect with people and helping them in whatever capacity he had in power.

Sablan said she’s happy too about former governor Carlos Camacho because the Commonwealth was in such a different place during his term. “ I mean, like we were still just setting the basic foundations or laws, of the power plant, the infrastructure,” said Sablan, adding that Camacho really was starting from scratch in a lot of ways. She said people can still see Camacho’s legacy today, as there were a lot of laws enacted during those years.

Sablan said the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.’s power plant that Camacho built like 40 some years ago is still the same power plant and that it needs to be overhauled now.

She said she also admired the late governor Froilan Tenorio for building the Beach Road Pathway that she uses almost every day. The lawmaker said that Tenorio received so much criticism for that project at the time as many people didn’t understand his vision for why it’s important to have something like a pathway that’s a place of beauty and a place to exercise.

“We need more places like that. That is also part of our vision for the islands,” she said.

Sablan said Tenorio was very determined and tenacious and got it done, and people still enjoy that today.

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 ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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