Youth Congress passes three bills, adopts one resolution

Bill proposes to require public schools to teach a full year of Chamorro or Carolinian languages

This year’s Youth Congress adopted at their recent first special session a commemorative resolution and passed three bills, including a legislation that will require all public schools in the CNMI—elementary, middle, and high schools—to teach at least one full year of the Chamorro or Carolinian languages.


Youth Congress vice speaker Liekeila’akata Tapua’ialupe Iakopo said in an interview after their session that another bill will mandate schools to come up with one Youth Congress representative because there’s only five of
them this year. “There should be more [representatives] because there’s more schools. So I feel like right now, we need more involvement with the schools and cooperation,” Iakopo said.

She said the third bill they passed would ban plastic bags.

Iakopo said they also adopted a commemorative resolution conveying their condolences to the family of the late Simeon E. Taisacan to honor his career in public service and service as secretary of the 17th Rota Municipal

Youth Congress bills do not become law by themselves. They are submitted to the Legislature for consideration as possible bills that could be offered for enactment.

The next Youth Congress session will be on July 13.

The Youth Congress bill that requires one full year of Chamorro or Carolinian language study for high school students to graduate, and for middle school students to be promoted, is Youth Congress Bill 18-02, also known as
“the CNMI Indigenous Language Preservation Act of 2021.” It was introduced by Youth Congress Speaker Cielo Citlalli G. Long.

The bill also requires PSS to offer at least two years of Chamorro or Carolinian language classes for those students who wish to continue instruction after the first year.

Long stated in the bill that saving the Chamorro/Carolinian languages are crucial to ensure the protection of the cultural dignity of the indigenous people, and safeguard the CNMI’s traditional heritage.

The speaker said that, according to the Guam 2010 census, only 16% of the entire population of Guam claimed they could speak Chamorro, with just 2,394 individuals of whom are under the age of 18.

Long said a short survey among high school students on Tinian illustrates a similar percentage to Guam, with just 18% speaking Chamorro or Carolinian at home or among friends and family.

Therefore, Long said, providing students the opportunity to explore their cultural background through language is necessary to uphold cultural preservation and to defend against the potential loss of the CNMI’s indigenous

Long also offered Youth Congress Bill 18-03, also known as “the CNMI Retail Plastic Bag Ban Act of 2021,” that will ban the use of plastic checkout bags. Under the bill, all unused plastic bags in the possession of persons or
stores shall be immediately turned over to the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality.

For businesses that use biodegradable plastic bags to replace their regular plastic bag inventory, they may take cash expenditures made during the tax year to qualify their business for a nonrefundable credit of up to $5,000
in one year. Any store violating this shall be fined not less than $100 and no more than $1,000 for each day a violation occurs.

Long stated in the bill that there is an ongoing threat to marine and terrestrial animals due to discarded non-compostable plastic bags.

Youth Congress Bill 18-01, or known as the “CNMI Youth Congress Reform Act of 2021,” will mandate each private and public high school with a student population of 20 to have one Youth Congress senator.

The bill, which is authored by Sen. Easton C. Dela Cruz, requires a minimum of one senator from each private and public school.

Dela Cruz stated in the bill that the 18th Youth Congress currently has only five members that consist of youth representing private and public high schools. Dela Cruz said five members are not enough to represent all CNMI
youth. The bill defines youth as between 14 and 18 years old.

Legislative Secretary Abriette Patience T. Manglona offered the Youth Congress Commemorative Resolution No. 18-01., which honors Taisacan and his career in public service that spans nearly two decades.

The other Youth Congress member is YuriHana Deleon Guerrero Sasamoto, who is the Youth Congress floor leader.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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