Juan Ayuyu Tenders Resignation From CNMI Senate

admin's picture

Senate leadership waiting on opinion to fill vacancy

By Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, August 22, 2013) – Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Sen. Juan M. Ayuyu (Ind-Rota) has resigned as a senator effective Oct. 7, a month before his Nov. 8 sentencing in connection with smuggling endangered fruit bats from Rota to Saipan and obstruction of justice.

As promised, Ayuyu sent his resignation letter to Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) "before" the rescheduled 2:30pm Wednesday session.

Torres and Senate Vice President Victor Hocog (R-Rota) separately said last night that the Oct. 7 resignation may just be in time for the expected release of a court decision on a certified question submitted.

The certified question would resolve the issue of whether Gov. Eloy S. Inos should appoint the next vote getter among Rota senatorial candidates in the 2009 or 2012 elections, should a Rota senatorial seat become vacant.

"We have to wait for the certified question," Hocog said during a session break last night.

He said once the court issues an opinion, the Rules and Procedures Committee would decide and make a recommendation whether to expel Ayuyu immediately or ask him to change the effective date of his resignation from Oct. 7 to when the court decides on the matter.

Attorney General Joey Patrick San Nicolas, in a March 15, 2013, legal opinion, said that if Ayuyu is convicted and a vacancy in the Senate exists, that vacancy will be filled by Joey Anthony Quitugua, the second highest vote getter in the 2009 senatorial elections for Rota.

In 2012, the second highest vote getter was former Senate president Paul Manglona.

Hocog, chairman of the Rules and Procedures Committee, said Ayuyu is technically still a member of the 18th Senate and still can participate in Senate sessions and official functions.

Ayuyu may also ask for reinstatement of his salary, among other things, until the effective date of his resignation or until he’s expelled, Hocog said.

Ayuyu faces 33 to 41 months in prison after pleading guilty to smuggling endangered fruit bats from Rota to Saipan and obstruction of justice.

His term as senator ends in January 2015, way before the end of his possible prison term.

He has been released temporarily from prison awaiting his sentencing but was not at the Wednesday Senate session. He is currently on Rota with his family.

Ayuyu, 48, was in jail since Dec. 17, 2012, on charges of alleged smuggling of endangered fruit bats, witness tampering, and possession of a cell phone while in prison.

Quitugua, who could be the likely appointee for senator representing Rota, is back in the CNMI and told Saipan Tribune he is ready to serve, while acknowledging pending legal issues.

The governor also earlier said he is waiting for a court opinion, while at the same acknowledging the attorney general opinion on the matter.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment