By Agnes E. Donato

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Oct. 1) - Rota Mayor Benjamin T. Manglona yesterday said he was "very disappointed" with the Legislature’s decision to slash $1.2 million from Rota’s budget, calling it "an act of evil."

"With this action, I think the people of Rota will be re-assessing their status. We feel that we are the bastard children of the commonwealth. This is not good," Manglona said.

The mayor said that the lawmakers appear to be "chasing us away" and may serve as a reason for the people of Rota to reconsider whether the CNMI is "the rightful place" for them.

Asked to elaborate, Manglona replied, "You know, there’s always the temptation to join Guam. Rota is the closest neighbor of Guam. I’m not advocating that, but I hope this arrangement we’re experiencing today will not be a message for the people of Rota that (they are being mistreated here)."

Manglona said that in his over 40 years in government service, he has "preached unity" and worked hard to be fair to every island of the Northern Marianas.

He also recalled that Gov. Juan N. Babauta, in his inaugural speech, stressed government unity and sharing of resources.

"The legislators should be ashamed of themselves for not promoting unity in our commonwealth. The disagreement in the Senate should not prevail. That’s their disagreement. I encourage them to work harmoniously, but I think they should not punish the people of Rota," he said.

Manglona added, "I’m hurt. I’m pained. I want our leaders to be reasonable, promote unity among our people, share our resources, and speak with one voice."

The mayor was set to meet with Babauta on Tuesday evening.

"I will ask the governor to veto the budget in the interest of uniting the commonwealth," Manglona said.

October 1, 2003

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