Gov. Ralph DLG Torres insists he has nothing to do with the creation of a bill that intends to abolish the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and return it to its former status as a line department under the Office of the Governor.
Speaking to reporters after a proclamation signing at Marianas High School yesterday morning, Torres said he was not aware of the drafting of the legislation.
“That’s a very contentious bill; it’s a political year…For the record that bill was created without my knowledge…It is a totally separate [creation] of the House,” Torres said.
Despite that, Torres assured that his intention—to provide quality healthcare for the Commonwealth community—remains.
“At the end of the day, my priority is to provide better healthcare, provide services, get equipment and supplies that the hospital needs,” he said. “I gave my word to support buying the equipment and we’re negotiating already on buying them the
equipment that [hospital administrator] Jesse Tudela gave me several months ago,” he added.
In the event the bill to abolish CHCC goes through, Torres said he would ensure that any current progress is not disrupted.
“There will be no changes to the departments. Whatever you head, you head that department,” he said. “I appreciate that all the staff in the hospital, the nurse and the doctors, are absolutely vital to our health here in the community and their work is appreciated… there is no firing or any threats to any of the other staff,” he added.
According to Torres, there will be public hearing relating to the bill and he looks forward to what the community has to say about it.
“I think they are going to be doing public hearings, as the author mentioned… I respect the intent of the bill and, again, is it the right time to do it? We’ll see what will come of the public hearing,” he said.
“We’ll go out there to the community and hear if they are happy with the services, are there more services that they want and that’s what the bill is about? …We’ll listen to the community, then we can have a better judgment whether the effort to continue to abolish it [CHCC] and make it a line department, or if there are other issues that need to be addressed before abolishing the board, then we’ll do that,” he added.
He also assured that he has nothing against CHCC CEO Esther Muña and respects the CHCC board’s decision on her role at the hospital.
“I have no personal agendas with the CEO. I personally like her and I have nothing personally against her and I respect the board, as they are my board. Whatever the decision they make, I’ll respect that,” he said.
A previous Saipan Tribune story reported that Torres had asked the CHCC board to terminate Muña.
Torres said yesterday that his only issue with Muña was in regards to CHCC funding, but after saying his piece, he has since moved on.
“I have nothing bad to say in terms of any personal issues. …I said my piece and I moved forward,” he said.