Editor’s Note: Rep. Corina Magofña (D-Saipan) delivered the following remarks in the Senate chamber during the public comments section of the session last Monday, Feb. 28, 2022.
Hafa Adai yan tirow. Good afternoon to our honorable senators and the viewing public. My name is Corina Magofña, and I am here to represent the voices of my constituents from Precinct 3. The people of our Commonwealth have the right to have us, the House of Representatives, conduct a fair trial as stated by our honorable Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez.
It is imperative and of utmost importance that we the people remind you, our honorable senators, that you are sitting here today in that very prestigious seat. Why? Because “We The People” elected you, to represent us, us alone, and no one else!
We the people must remind you, our honorable senators, that you took an oath and swore to uphold your fiduciary duties. But most importantly, to do what is right and in the best interest of our people.
Now let me ask you all this: Are the Rules of Impeachment (as it stands today) for the impeached official (Gov. Ralph Torres) for the best interest of our people? I think not! And I can guarantee you that many of your constituents who elected you into office feel the very same way.
So ask yourselves again, Hayi un represe-senta? I taotao-ta pat i gubetnu? I sure hope you know the answer to this question because I know our people are watching and listening to see who your loyalty is to.
Now with regards to the Impeachment Rules, which was adopted last Friday, let’s do a quick comparison here between our former governor Benigno R. Fitial and Ralph DLG Torres. Gov. Fitial had 18 pages and 24 Rules, Gov. Torres has 28 pages and 44 Rules. I’ll let you marinate on that while I talk about the rules that are just so unbelievably unfair and unconstitutional.
Let us be open and honest that there is no ambiguity to what Rule 9 truly entails: the proverbial “forest and the trees” analogy. For those in attendance who aren’t familiar with this phrase, it simply means that we must look beyond mere words to see the hidden message being conveyed. Also known as the author’s overall intent.”
Here, I noticed an almost comical, if not for the serious matter before us, unreasonable, and unconscionable demands on one of the most important, if not the most important, subject matter herein.
The committee has daring initiative, through purposeful acts of their own, managed to create a rule that solely benefits, favors, comforted and/or cuddle the impeached official, Ralph Torres, with most of favorable terms and conditions to an almost guaranteed success outcome.
Basically, the Senate Impeachment Rules seek to, first, find a way to remove the Impeachment Prosecutor (Rule 9, section (d)). If all House Impeachment Records and Transmittal thereof is successful and removal of said Impeachment Prosecutor failed;
The Second fortification is to have the House Impeachment Record Automatically Stricken and only the impeachment matter (whatever this is) shall proceed to Senate. (Rule 9, section(c)(2)) And to sweeten the pot, an added measure, also prevents the Impeachment Prosecutor from appearing on Senate Hearing and Proceeding.
If all else fails, i.e. the Impeachment Prosecutor made it through, House Impeachment Records is properly certified and Impeachment Prosecutor still given the okay to attend the Senate Hearing and Proceeding.
The Third, and final, last ditch-effort takes the cake and tailored only for countries such as Russia, China and North Korea.
Let the impeached official strike any part or the entire House Impeachment Record or supplement any part or the entire House Impeachment Record as he so chooses. Rule 9(g) in laymen’s terms: no prosecutor, no records, and if all else fails, let the accused decide. Where is justice, fairness and honor?”
And just what message is the impeached official sending to his very own staff and agencies, who are under his administration, by even having this rule? That the records they submitted to the JGO committee were unreliable and lacked integrity?
Also, Rule 9 fails to provide what mechanism is to be provided to the House prosecutor to contest the impeached official’s request. Nothing! Taya! So I ask again, where is the fairness and respect for our people? Senators, what is your message to our people?
Now let’s go back to the comparison between Gov. Fitial vs. Torres: 24 rules for Fitial and 44 rules for Torres. That’s a difference of 20 rules. Why is that? Why add 20 additional stringent rules for Ralph Torres? It is very obvious that these rules are lopsided to favor Ralph Torres and not our people!
To the people of the Commonwealth, the Senate has given very stringent, unconscionable terms and conditions that caters to one man and one man alone. A dictatorial-type of acts may possibly be up for debate under these conditions if I do say so myself.
Nevertheless, Ralph Torres is not a man with any significant means of public contribution aside from the federal handouts under the people’s name; that may be his true worth.
A true and honorable governor status belongs to one who selflessly contributes to the advancement for his people, and one that does not try to take all the credit for all the good things that happen for his commonwealth.
There is no ‘I’ in team!
Si yu’us ma’ase and ghilisow.
CORINA MAGOFÑA (Special to the Saipan Tribune)
Corina Magofña is a member of the House of Representatives of the 22nd Legislature, representing Precinct 3.