Villagomez to create special committee on impeachment
Grace “Pitu” Sablan Vaiagae questioned yesterday what she called the “audacity” of three Democrat lawmakers to pass judgment on Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres’ spending priorities when they themselves allegedly committed heinous crimes against persons and, in one case, against animals.
Speaking during the public comment portion of the House of Representatives session yesterday, Vaiagae, who is counselor for abused women, did not name the three representatives, but she was apparently referring to Democrat Reps. Edwin K. Propst, Vicente Camacho, and Celina R. Babauta.
This developed as House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan) announced at yesterday’s session that he will be creating a special committee on impeachment, that he will be appointing members to the committee and that a memorandum will be coming out soon.
Villagomez made the announcement shortly after Babauta, who chairs the House Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee, introduced House Resolution 22-14, impeaching Torres for alleged commission of felonies, corruption, and neglect of duty in violation of Article 3, Section 19 of the CNMI Constitution.
Reading from a prepared statement, Vaiagae said her thoughts are about fairness and equity. She said she has witnessed the JGO Committee’s proceedings and now that the articles of impeachment are before the full House, she is compelled to ask the members to ask a fair question: If the JGO members will amend the articles of impeachment to include previous governors and lieutenant governors who have done the same as what are being alleged against Torres.
“If it’s true that Lt. Gov. [Arnold] Palacios—as other lieutenant governors may have done—signed the travel authorization for Gov. Torres, shouldn’t he too, Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios, be held in violation for approving that TA? Or is it just Ralph DLG Torres?” she asked.
Also, now that the articles of impeachment are before the full House, will the representatives amend it to include the removal of sitting representatives who have criminal and ethical charges against them?, Vaiagae asked.
The counselor noted that a sitting representative had allegedly beaten a man in front of his special needs child. Another representative, Vaiagae said, had not one but several criminal sexual conducts or related charges against him. She also mentioned an individual who is allegedly complicit in allowing illegal game fighting to occur on or near a private residence and allegedly managed by a relative.
“How is it that you are allowed to pass judgment against the sitting governor on issues of spending priorities when you yourself have allegedly committed heinous crimes against your fellow man and, in one case, against animals? This is my question of fairness and equal protection under the law,” Vaiagae added.
Camacho has a pending criminal case before the Superior Court after he, along with two others, was accused of allegedly assaulting a Commonwealth Ports Authority employee in China Town last Oct. 29. Camacho has pleaded not guilty.
Propst is facing investigation by the House Ethics Committee after Vaiagae filed an ethics complaint against him last Nov. 9 over allegations that he had sex with several underaged women when he was still a teacher at Marianas High School and an employee at the Northern Marianas College some 20 years ago. Propst has denied the allegations.
One of Babauta’s brothers is/was allegedly engaged in cockfighting.
“My statement concerning equity relates to those standards you are attempting to uphold. Yet you don’t apply the equal accountability to the same as well. You then report out discretionary spending of your offices. Where are your receipts?”Vaiagae asked.
Ambrose Bennett and Fabian Indalecio, who are known critics of Torres, also spoke at the session, with Bennett offering his complete support for Torres’ impeachment. Bennett said the evidence brought to light by the JGO Committee is more than enough to give rise to the impeachment that is proper and necessary in accordance with the CNMI Constitution.
Indalecio said that, as Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) and Palacios had already stated, “Enough is enough” and that it’s about time to impeach Torres.
Villagomez later admonished Indalecio for using expletives against the governor. Indalecio apologized and stated that it’s just frustration and stress on his part.