Gov. Ralph DLG Torres described Friday “as out of bounds” the House of Representatives Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee’s action to hold Frances M. Dela Cruz in criminal contempt.
When asked during his radio press briefing last Friday to comment on the JGO decision, Torres said he had already written to JGO chair Rep. Celina R. Babauta (D-Saipan) to provide him with questions or their concerns, but they have not done so.
“If I’m the target, [if] they want me to answer questions, why haven’t they done that?” he asked.
When asked about Torres’ statement yesterday, Babauta asked about Torres’ exact statutory citation.
Dela Cruz, who is Torres’ executive assistant, was held in contempt by the JGO after she refused to answer questions during last Tuesday’s hearing, repeatedly reading instead a statement citing her reasons for objecting to the subpoena issued her. She appeared at the JGO hearing with counsel, Viola Alepuyo.
The JGO, which is controlled by Democrat representatives, is investigating Torres’ expenditures of public funds and travels.
Torres noted that the JGO voted to subpoena him in mid-August, but it’s already been over three months and there has been no subpoena.
“Why haven’t they subpoenaed me?” asked Torres, adding that the JGO has not reached out to him about their concerns and questions that they need him to answer.
The governor also asked why the JGO continues going after all these government employees and putting them into this situation.
He said Dela Cruz took her actions and that they will wait for the contempt process to go through.
House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (D-Saipan) has certified the JGO’s decision and has requested Attorney General Edward Manibusan to initiate prosecution against Dela Cruz.
Torres said he has requested the JGO Committee to provide him with all their concerns and questions by Nov. 15, 2021, but as of Friday he has not received any response.
Torres also said last week that the JGO Committee should put a timeline on its investigation and stop dragging innocent government employees to its hearings.
Torres said he recently wrote Babauta to say that the committee is dragging innocent employees and asking them questions about their opinion or scope of work. “We need to stop this. We need to have a deadline on this,” he said.
Torres said what the JGO is doing is creating anxiety among government employees and their families.
“So you have your questions, you have your documents, write me the letter, and I’ll answer those,” he said.
Torres said he is waiting for Babauta’s response to his letter.