Torres says he does not know what Palacios contributed behind the scenes
Responding to Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios’ claim that he works mostly behind the scenes, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said Tuesday that he has been with Palacios for more than three years and that he still does not know what the lieutenant governor has contributed behind the scenes.
Responding to a question during a press conference, Torres said he will be amazed if he gets a picture that shows him working with Palacios during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to the governor’s previous statement about Palacios being nowhere at the height of the pandemic, Palacios said last week that he was present but behind the scenes to ensure that policies and regulations are followed so the CNMI can be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Palacios said he has always been present through every disaster the CNMI has faced in his tenure as lieutenant governor, including the pandemic. He said he has been working behind the scenes and doesn’t need to prove he has been present through photo opportunities.
But Torres said Tuesday he wants to know how long Palacios has been working behind the scenes, because he (Torres) was the one ordering all the personal protective equipment and meeting with first responders.
“I know exactly where those items were coming. I know what was being purchased, how much were being purchased, where they were being purchased and the difficulties of bringing them here,” Torres said.
Torres and his running mate, Sen. Vinnie Vinson F. Sablan (R-Saipan), of the Republican Party, topped the three-way general election last Nov. 8, but failed to get the majority, paving for a runoff race against second placer Palacios and his running mate, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, of the unified independent team. The runoff election will be on Nov. 25.
Torres said at their press conference that he knows the airline challenges and how difficult ordering PPEs items at the time.
“So I don’t know exactly where he fits in as to working behind the scenes,” Torres said, referring to Palacios.
He said the photos showed that he was there with the first responders.
On the issue of the government’s deficit, Torres said the costs happened because of the disasters and now with the pandemic. The governor said he will do whatever it takes to make sure that the people of the Commonwealth is safe and for people to get their water supply and utilities.
Torres said he will deal with the deficit and that he can be criticized and continues to get criticized for that. “But at the end of the day, did I provide water to the people in a timely manner? Did we get federal assistance? Did that relationship [with federal agencies] help?” he asked.
The governor said he is not going to save money and then jeopardize people’s life. Torres said he made tough and unpopular decisions, but he made them for the best interest of the Commonwealth.
To dig the government out of its deficit, they will have to build the economy, Sablan said. “And that’s an investment. It takes money to do that, because we can’t just see the deficit and hope that it’ll just kind of fix itself,” Sablan said.
He underscored the need to think creatively of how to bring in new industries, and to revive the tourism industry so the government can have that revenue to pay and cover that deficit.
“Deficits are here and in other jurisdictions, but there has to be actions that have to be taken to get out of deficits. We have the plans to do that,” Sablan said.