Lt. Gov. Ralph DLG Torres spoke before the Rotary Club of Saipan at the Hyatt Regency Saipan yesterday, highlighting how Typhoon Soudelor removed the “veil” that covered major issues in the CNMI.
“The truth is, in the many years before Typhoon Soudelor, your government operated on an island with a veil over the major issues of our people. This veil covered the things that were thought to be too difficult to address, too painful to look at, and so rooted in inactivity that it spells political doom to speak freely about its existence,” Torres said.
According to Torres, there are too many families in the Commonwealth that are vulnerable to natural disasters, children surviving on food stamps and school lunches, and prisoners who are sentenced and recede to crime. He added that there also too many young and idealistic minds that are forced into pessimism and cynicism “by a system they think doesn’t believe in them.”
Torres said that the real tragedy was not the natural disaster that occurred but “a social one.”
“It is not easy to see how lives have been so damaged, not by the torrents of nature, but by our inability to speak honestly of the existence of poverty,” Torres said.
Sharing his news of having their sixth child on the way, Torres spoke of how he thinks of the world his children and other children will live in.
“We owe it to [our children] to make sure the errors we have perpetuated as ‘the way things are’ no longer have a place in our society,” Torres said.
He envisions the islands where the existence of poverty is not ignored, but eradicated.
“This is what we are striving for in this recovery stage. We are at a turning point of our great Commonwealth where we decide, here and now, if we are committed to the promise outlined in our Covenant to do our part to ensure our people achieve a standard of living equal to that of the United States,” Torres said.
According to him, the administration will outline its vision for a Commonwealth of “shared opportunity” in the coming months and asked for the support of the community.
“It is time to provide for the common wealth of our Commonwealth,” he said.