Torres names 3 to represent Saipan on casino commission

IPI CFO Chen resigned last April 6

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres has nominated former House of Representatives speaker Rafael S. Demapan, former Zoning board chair Mariano Taitano, and Commonwealth Casino Commission executive director Edward C. Deleon Guerrero to serve as members of the CCC representing Saipan.

As this developed, Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC’s chief financial officer Ed Chen has resigned from IPI. He has been with IPI since September 2017. Chen’s last day as CFO was last April 6, Saipan Tribune confirmed it yesterday with IPI.

The appointment of the three to the casino commission requires the advice and consent of the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation. Torres submitted his nomination letters to Rep. Paul P. Sablan (R-Saipan), who chairs the delegation, last March 11. If confirmed, Demapan, Taitano, and Deleon Guerrero will each serve four-year terms, which will expire in April 2024.

Torres said he and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios are confident in Demapan’s, Taitano’s, and Deleon Guerrero’s leadership to carry out the mandate of the board in governing and managing the CCC.

Torres made the appointments as the six-year terms of CCC chair Juan M. Sablan and commissioners Joseph C. Reyes and Alvaro A. Santos will expire on April 30.

Deleon Guerrero, who spoke in a recent interview in his capacity as CCC executive director, said that, by May 1, Torres has to appoint three commissioners from Saipan to have a quorum, as the commission will be left with only two commissioners—Ramon M. Dela Cruz of Tinian and Diego M. Songao of Rota. Both have four more years to serve.

Sablan, who was sworn into office in October 2014, said the past five years as a commissioner and chairman has been a very challenging but fruitful experience.

Sablan said he has always been a supporter of the casino industry simply because he knew the potential that it could bring in infusing revenue for the CNMI. He said there’s still a very rough road ahead, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected many globally.

With respect to Chen’s resignation, IPI said it was a difficult decision by IPI as they fully appreciate his contribution to the company. IPI said, however, they believe a leaner finance department is essential to the success of the company going forward.

With the global pandemic and its impact on the CNMI economy, the company has decided to recalibrate its operations during the downtime, IPI said.

“Our goal is to ensure that we have an efficient and effective organization to endure economic hardship and thrive in the future,” IPI said.

IPI, however, stated that they sped up construction work on its casino-resort project in Garapan to ensure that when the tourists come back, they are in a much stronger position to be profitable and contribute to the CNMI economy.

Effective last March 17, IPI temporarily closed its casino until further notice, to support the public effort in the control of the coronavirus. IPI said the health and safety of its customers and employees have always been the company’s top priority.

IPI said they will update the public and their partners on when the casino will re-open, taking into account guidance from public health authorities.

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

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