CNMI Governor Ordered To Appear In Court Over Disputed Contract

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Fitial, Saipan Development LLC face contempt charges

By Moneth Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Dec. 10, 2012) – Rep. Janet Maratita (IR-Saipan) may have overcome another hurdle when the Superior Court granted yesterday her request ordering Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and Saipan Development LLC to show cause why they should not be held in contempt for failing to obey preliminary injunction orders on the no-bid $190.8-million diesel power purchase agreement.

The court order to show cause comes at a time when Maratita, through her lawyer Ramon Quichocho, and Sen. Juan M. Ayuyu (Ind-Rota), are trying to mend fences after Tuesday's alleged phone threats by the senator against the representative-also in connection with the 25-year power purchase deal.

Maratita and Quichocho filed a police report against Ayuyu after the senator allegedly made phone threats to kill Maratita. Ayuyu said he made no such threats, while Quichocho said yesterday that they stand by their statement to the police.

"What happened two days ago was unfortunate. However, we are all ready to move past that and continue to focus on preventing the defendants in the lawsuit from committing the biggest attempted contractual thievery that ever happened against the good people of the CNMI," Quichocho told Saipan Tribune.

The U.S. Attorney's Office, however, wants Ayuyu's pre-trial release revoked because of the complaint of disturbing the peace against him. Ayuyu was indicted earlier for conspiracy to smuggle federally protected fruit bats into Saipan.

Meanwhile, Fitial and SDLLC are ordered to appear before the court on Dec. 28 at 2pm in Superior Court associate judge David A. Wiseman's courtroom "to show cause why they should not be held in contempt for failing to obey the court's preliminary injunction and supplemental preliminary injunction orders."

Maratita, along with Rep. Ray Yumul (IR-Saipan) and the full Senate, filed a taxpayers' lawsuit against Fitial, SDLLC, and others over the $190.8- million power deal.

However, when Maratita found out that Ayuyu and two other senators recently met with SDLLC representatives or associates, she filed on Monday a motion for order to show cause, saying that Fitial and SDLLC should be held in contempt and fined up to $10,000 daily for allegedly violating a temporary restraining order prohibiting them from pursuing and/or performing on the sole-source PPA.

Maratita also asked Ayuyu through a letter on Monday to stop meeting with SDLLC officials so as not to compromise their legal position in the case.

On Tuesday afternoon, Ayuyu called Quichocho to ask whether there was a TRO on the senator to prevent him from meeting with any SDLLC officials. That was when Ayuyu allegedly made threats against Quichocho's client, Maratita.

Ayuyu said that Maratita has been harming his reputation since he, as chairman of the Senate Public Utilities, Transportation and Communications, was only trying to hear what SDLLC has to say about the PPA but it doesn't mean he has changed course on the issue.

"I apologize if somebody's hurt but I believe they should also feel my side, being treated as a corrupted senator by receiving emails from people and I don't deserve that because I will never be a corrupted individual," he said.

The senator said he will continue to work closely with Maratita and other lawmakers on the PPA.

Rep. Stanley Torres (Ind-Saipan) said yesterday he hopes that Maratita and Ayuyu will be able to work things out.

"To me it's bordering on childish conversation. I hope they work things out," said Torres, one of the longest serving lawmakers in the CNMI.

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