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By Gemma Q. Cassas

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Feb. 1) – Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Governor Benigno R. Fitial, who will remain off-island for a business trip in Japan and Asia until the 6th of February, issued a memorandum limiting the release of [public] information to his press secretary, Charles Reyes Jr.

At the same time, the governor designated Lt. Governor Tim P. Villagomez as the acting governor until his return.

The governor justified his media protocol memo by saying it will "ensure consistency and adherence to policies of this administration."

"…all media contacts, inclusive of interviews and press releases, must first be reviewed and approved by the Governor’s Press Secretary, Mr. Charles P. Reyes Jr….All Cabinet members should submit their photographs and resumes to the Public Information Office for media release," reads a portion of Fitial’s two-paragraph memo dated January 30.

In a separate interview, Reyes assured the media that he will make himself available for interviews.

He added that requested public information will also be made available immediately if it exists, and that which is not will be subjected to the 10-day rule release under the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ Open Government Act.

In a separate memo, Fitial thanked government employees for cooperating with his dress code policy.

"Thank you for continuing to adhere to our administration’s dress code, which is intended to project a positive image of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to our visitors and investors, as well as instill a sense of professionalism within our administration," wrote Fitial.

[PIR editor’s note: Governor Fitial instituted the dress code just two days after his January 9th inaugural celebration.]

February 1, 2006

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