‘Torres, family made 85 boating trips from 2017 to July 2021’

Boating Safety commander testifies they don’t take Torres on DPS boat for fishing, hunting trips
Kevin Aldan testifies before the House of Representatives Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee

Boating Safety commander Kevin Aldan testifies before the House of Representatives Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee about the numerous boating trips made by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and his family from 2015 to 2021. Next to Aldan is his counsel, Anthony Aguon. (FERDIE DE LA TORRE)

Department of Public Safety Boating Safety commander Kevin Aldan testified yesterday before the House of Representatives Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee regarding numerous boating trips made by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, his wife, and some family members.

In response to the question from Rep. Blas Jonathan T. Attao (R-Saipan), Aldan said they don’t take Torres aboard Boating Safety boats for fishing. Aldan said DPS Boating Safety officers would escort or shadow the governor as he goes on his own boat during fishing.

The Boating Safety commander said he can’t recall how many fishing trips the governor took in his numerous trips.

“I can’t just put a number to it,” said Aldan, adding that he possibly joined some of those fishing trips.

He remembers escorting Torres on a fishing trip to Tinian.

Aldan said he is aware of Boating Safety officers and vessels were being used to take the governor and the first lady on trips to Managaha, but that that he can’t recall how many times he was on those trips.

Attao said the vessel reports or logbooks submitted to the JGO Committee document at least 85 boating trips with Torres and his family from March 2017 to July 2021 using DPS Search and Rescue vessels, multiple Boating Safety personnel, thousands of gallons of government-funded fuel and other boating resources.

Aldan said if it’s in the documents that they submitted, then the 85 boating trips were accurate.

Aldan said he is not aware if Torres uses other government vessels besides DPS boats for recreational transportation.

JGO Committee chair Rep. Celina R. Babauta (D-Saipan) said in her remarks that the evidence shows that Torres, his wife, numerous members of their family, and friends went to Pagan using CNMI funds for recreational purposes, while the CNMI was under a lockdown due to COVID-19.

Babauta said DPS officers testified that it is not DPS procedure to use personal funding for any Boating Safety needs.

She said it is clear that the grantor of the recreational Boating Safety, in this case the U.S. Coast Guard, stated in an email to Boating Safety and DPS Commissioner Robert Guerrero that “protecting public officials would fall outside of the recreational Boating Safety realm and would not be an allowable cost.”

The JGO is investigating Torres’ expenditures of public funds and travels.

At the hearing, Rep. Donald M. Manglona (D-Saipan) showed a Boating Safety logbook about a boating trip to the Northern Islands on Aug. 5, 2017. Manglona asked who were the boat crew with Torres that was referred in the logbook. Aldan said he does not know as it’s not indicated in the logbook.

Aldan also stated that a boat which was in that trip possibly belongs to the governor’s brother.

Manglona asked why the officers were on Boating Safety Zodiac 3 boat monitoring or escorting the governor, who was on a birthday camping trip to Sarigan. The commander replied that it’s for personal security detail issue.

Manglona asked why would a Boating Safety boat be used to escort the boat of governor’s brother, Vincent Torres, on a personal birthday camping trip.

Aldan said if the governor is on board, then they need to follow him. He, however, stated that he was not aware that it was a personal camping trip for the governor and his brothers.

Rep. Edwin K. Propst (D-Saipan) followed up Manglona’s question. He asked if there was any official business on this trip or it was personal.

Aldan said based on the log, it’s hard for him to say if it’s personal or official business. He said they don’t ask what’s the business of the governor as they just follow the DPS commissioner’s order to provide personal security.

Propst cited a Boating Safety report log for Aug. 13, 2017, in which Boating Safety officers shadowed a boat for Anatahan. He asked who was in the Boating Safety Zodiac boat and why it was in Anatahan. Aldan said he does not know as it’s not indicated in the log. He said he has no knowledge that if it was a fishing trip or a hunting trip for the governor and his brothers.

Propst said it appears that many of the entries in the Boating Safety logbook are attributed to the governor’s and his families’ fishing or hunting expeditions.

“Does Boating Safety also monitor other fishermen as they do for the governor, or just specially for the governor?” the lawmaker asked. Aldan said they also monitor other fishermen.

When Saipan Tribune left the hearing at 4pm., Aldan was still testifying.

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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