IN RESPONSE TO BILL STRIPPING CNMI TOP OFFICIALS OF SUBSIDIZED HOUSING
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said he wishes he could just stay where the governor’s official residence on Capitol Hill as provided by the CNMI Constitution but pointed out he is unable to do so at present since “there is no government housing.”
Speaking at a radio news briefing on Friday, Torres said security is among the reasons why the constitution provides housing for the governor and lieutenant governor.
Rep. Richard T. Lizama (D-Saipan) introduced a bill that will remove taxpayer-funded housing for the governor, lieutenant governor, Senate president, and House speaker.
The bill, which is co-authored by Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan) and other Democrat representatives, proposes to repeal a law that became effective on Dec. 29, 1980, that provides government housing for the governor, lieutenant governor, Senate president, and House of Representatives speaker.
According to Lizama, historically governors and lieutenant governors of prior administrations have availed of government housing but all these government facilities are now either derelict, abandoned, or have been converted to government offices.
The lawmaker said in the absence of government housing, the Department of Finance has allowed the use of public funds to pay for utilities at the private residences of these elected officials.
When asked to comment on the legislation, Torres said he’ll be happy to abide whatever is provided by the constitution with respect to housing.
“I’m at my house because there is no government housing,” Torres pointed out.
Torres told Saipan Tribune yesterday that the official governor’s residence is not conducive and that he’s not sure who was the last governor to stay there.
When asked for information about the governor’s official residence, Rep. Angel Demapan (R-Saipan) believes that the building was condemned several administrations back. Demapan said he does not know for sure whether former governor Froilan Tenorio or former governor Juan N. Babauta were the last one to stay there.