Acting governor Ralph DLG Torres said Wednesday he met with the Marianas Public Lands Trust last week to follow up on an earlier letter requesting funds generated from the rental and lease of public lands to help with rebuilding efforts after Typhoon Soudelor and Typhoon Champi.
“We are in progress,” Torres told reporters last week.
He said they are looking at the possibility of assisting Soudelor victims with certain funding and “how to appropriate those funding and so forth.”
“I’m sure [the attorney general] will be a part of it, but they also have their own attorney. I am hoping that they can facilitate that program within the MPLT,” Torres said. “I want to get as much as we can to assist our victims. But we’ll take what we can from MPLT.”
In his Oct. 29 letter to MPLT chair Pedro Deleon Guerrero, Torres cited Article 11 of the CNMI Constitution, which states that that use of public land shall be for “the benefit of the people of the Commonwealth who are of Northern Marianas descent.”
“Many citizens of NMD are presently suffering greatly following the arrival of [t]yphoons Soudelor and Champi,” Torres said. “Homes have been lost, property destroyed and lives upended,” he said, noting that this damage has not all been fixed or repaired and he believes “we need to do more to [help] NMDs.”
“Use of public funds generated from the rental and leasing of NMI public lands to help these persons of NMD would obviously be a great benefit,” Torres said.
“While I am aware that there are limits to the purposes for which the funds held by the Trust, I would like to open the discussion as to the urgent need for individuals of Northern Marianas descent to rebuild their homes using Trust funds in some fashion,” Torres said in his letter.
Torres’ letters come in line with his office’s work as the primary agency coordinating government support in recent weeks to the CNMI Commonwealth Advocates for Recovery Efforts group, or CARE, whose main push has been for home rebuilding after Typhoon Soudelor.
Other than immediate funding and resources, the group has faced limitations from finding floor plans that are up to code and structurally sound and approved by an architect and an engineer. The group has networked to reach out to contractors from the mainland U.S. and expect an influx of stateside contractors coming to aid efforts.