Tributes For Late CNMI Governor Inos Pour In

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Officials, off-island dignitaries pay their respects

By Dennis B. Chan

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Jan. 12, 2016) – Government officials and off-island dignitaries paid their final respects to the late governor Eloy S. Inos yesterday at the Borja Funeral Homes in Oleai.

Wearing black suits and ties, leaders from the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam legislators, and federal officials, among many others, filed in and out of the aisle of the Borja Funeral Home to pay their final respects.

As they left, the officials hug or shook hands with Inos’ family and relatives who were seated inside.

The event began at 1pm and was over before 3pm yesterday.

Visiting officials called Inos’ passing a big loss to the Commonwealth, to his own family, and to those families that were close with him.

Inos, who passed away two weeks ago due to complications from diabetes, will be buried today at the Chalan Kanoa Cemetery after a funeral service at the Mount Carmel Cathedral. The funeral cortege is set to depart the Borja Funeral Home for the cathedral at 7:30am today. The public will have a chance to visit and pay their respects at the cathedral from at 8:30am to 2pm.

A Mass of Christian Burial presided by Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron and the clergy of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa will follow at 3pm, then internment at the Chalan Kanoa cemetery at about 4:30pm. The funeral Mass will be broadcast live on Channel 60 starting at 2:40pm.

The sight of Inos’ repose was tough on some officials yesterday. Like during his arrival on Saipan last Friday, there were hugs shared among those close to him.

With tears in his eyes, Willie Tan—CEO of Luen Thai Enterprises Ltd.—hugged special assistant of administration Esther Fleming as he stepped out of the funeral home.

Calling him a "great brother," Tan remembers Inos—a former top executive of Tan Holdings—as a great leader who loved serving the people of the Commonwealth even while working for Tan Holdings in the private sector. Tan said Inos used his excess time to continue his public work.

Tan hopes the CNMI will continue and embrace Inos’ vision for the Commonwealth and the foundation he left behind to make the CNMI a better place to live. He described Inos as intelligent and one who "knew his numbers." Inos was a good negotiator and liked to listen first, added Tan.

"I knew he was struggling with his health for awhile. We were talking about it," said Tan, who added he was with Inos during a previous surgery and visited him during a checkup in Manila.

"I miss him. It is very difficult on me," Tan said. "I don’t have many people that I talk to probably every other week, and he happened to be one of them. I miss his call and talking to him."

Federated States of Micronesia Vice President Yosiwo P. George called Inos a "dedicated" statesman. He said he had worked with Inos during the Trust Territory days—when Pacific islands like the Marshall Islands, FSM, Palau, and the CNMI worked under one U.S.-controlled administration. Inos’ finance skills was in demand, George said.

"It’s sad that we have to meet on an occasion like this," added George. "But…I am glad to be here to pay my respects."

"As a player in the region, he contributed—not directly with the [FSM] and or other entities—but being a Commonwealth of the United States, we were still talking about the issues of the region—environmental issues, climate change. Regardless of whatever political affiliation, we still shared the same kind of concern. He’s been a very good supporter and contributed to the effort."

Inos was detailed and "very meticulous"—great characteristics of man of finance, Bank of Guam CEO, president, and chair of the board Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero told reporters yesterday.

"His work ethics are excellent," she added. "Bank of Guam was humbled by his leadership."

Guerrero said that Bank of Guam officials were there to "continue that friendship" and offer condolences to Inos’ family.

Former Department of the Interior assistant secretary of insular affairs Anthony Babauta worked with Inos when he was lieutenant governor under former governor Benigno R. Fitial. During that time, issues like the transition from local to federal immigration, trying to find better opportunities for locals to enter the job market, and improve 24-hour water service to Saipan were front and center.

"Saipan has had a very difficult time with its economy," said Babauta. "Some of the political challenges in the past I think have just made it difficult for CNMI’s economy to make some significant steps forward."

In light of this, Babauta remember Inos as "a good man, a good leader, thoughtful, and one who was caring, and hardworking throughout." He said it was easy to discuss details of any issue with the late governor.

"Whether he was briefed on it or not," Babuata said, "he was someone who could pick up on those issues very quickly. …We were fairly serious in the endeavors that we were trying to do. Trying to do good things and do the right things for the CNMI were of paramount importance."

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