Prior To Adjourning Session, Outgoing CNMI Senators Laud Progress In Face Of Challenges

19th Legislature calls on incoming 20th to continue positive work 

By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Jan. 6, 2017) – The 19th Senate adjourned sine die on Thursday with the eight members present recalling the major challenges that they experienced but “survived.”

According to Senate Vice President Arnold I. Palacios, the incoming Senate president, “The 19th Legislature was faced with many challenges amid the continuing economic recovery, including questions about infrastructure sustainability and improved public services in the healthcare and educational systems. But if there’s one thing we learned from the major devastation of Typhoon Soudelor, it is our community’s resilience and humanitarian spirit, especially that of the many individuals and organizations that stepped forward to help those who were most impacted by these challenges.”

Palacios also mentioned the loss of a great leader in the person of the late Gov. Eloy Inos who passed away in Dec. 2015.

The entire commonwealth mourned that loss, Palacios said, adding that they will continue to remember the greatness of Inos and continue to pray for him.

Palacios also recalled then-Senate President Victor Hocog’s assuming his new position as lt. governor and the return of Paul Manglona to the Senate.

Palacios said as all of them are returning members of the 20th Legislature, they will have the opportunity to continue to work to sustain the islands’ economic recovery and address long-term obligations and critical issues that the commonwealth is still facing.

Sen. Sixto Igisomar thanked his colleagues for supporting his bills while also expressing gratitude to the leadership of Senate President Frank Borja and Palacios.

Although the Senate has done many great things to improve the lives of the people of the commonwealth, Igisomar said there are still so many things that need to be done.

He hopes that good working relationships will continue in the 20th Legislature, adding that the people must come first and must be served well.

Sen. Teresita Santos thanked her colleagues, the public and all government agencies for working collaboratively to achieve some of their goals to improve the livelihood of the people of the CNMI.

She said there are still pressing issues that are of critical importance to the people that were not fully addressed such as funding for the medical referral program, land compensation, infrastructure and transportation issues.

She said these matters should be given attention in the 20th Legislature.

“We are fully aware though that resolving these matters will require a robust economy,” she said.

Sen. Justo Quitugua, for his part, said being a legislator was the hardest job he’s ever had, and he sometimes wonders why he chose it.

He said his hair is graying and there are now more wrinkles on his face. But, he added, these also indicate how hard they have worked to serve the people of the commonwealth.

“The problems of our people are also our problems. That is why we are here so we can provide our community with the services the people need,” he said, as he thanked his fellow lawmakers and their staffers for supporting measures that benefited the community.

Sen. Frank Cruz thanked his colleagues and the staff of the Senate and the Legislative Bureau for their patience, support and understanding.

He said although some of his critical bills were not passed, he will re-introduce them and continue to ask for his colleagues’ support as these measures will benefit the community.

Sen. Paul Manglona said he is hopeful about the incoming Legislature and thanked the people, the staff and his colleagues for their support. He also acknowledged the media for being fair in reporting on the deliberations in the Senate and for keeping the community informed.

Sen. Jude Hofschneider said through collaboration and working together they were able to recover from major challenges such as Typhoon Soudelor and the death of Governor Inos.

Hofschneider said he is thankful that they were able to appropriate money to address many of the critical needs of the community and the various agencies and were able to realize a supplemental budget after 15 years of a declining economy.

He is looking forward to a more sustainable economy in the coming years and more substantive discussions on the issues facing the commonwealth to ensure that the CNMI continues to head in the right direction.

“Despite our differences we managed and continued to move ahead to the next phase,” he said, as he acknowledged outgoing House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Antonio Sablan for his guidance and assistance in coming up with a reasonable and balanced budget for the past two years.

The 19th Legislature was productive and fruitful, Hofschneider added.

Sen. Steve Mesngon said it has been a great pleasure working with his colleagues, and he is looking forward to more productive legislative work that will continue to address critical issues.

Senate President Frank Borja was not feeling well and could not attend the session so it was Palacios, as the acting presiding officer, who announced that the bills still pending in committees would be filed. Palacios then banged the gavel to signal the final adjournment of the 19th Senate.

Marianas Variety
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