Senate conducts hearing on election commission, CHCC board nominees

THE Senate on Tuesday held a public hearing on Jesus Sablan and Polly Masga who were nominated to the Commonwealth Election Commission and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. board, respectively.

Gov. Ralph Torres reappointed Sablan while it is the first appointment for Masga as a CHCC board member.

Jesus Sablan

Sablan’s hearing was held in the morning while Masga’s was in the afternoon.

Election commission board member Patricia Mareham and CEC staff member Robin Sablan testified in support of Jesus Sablan.

Sen. Sixto Igisomar asked him to review the election laws and determine if there is a need to amend anything so that the election process can be improved further.

He also asked Jesus Sablan to consider looking into the possibility of scheduling the early-voting period before Oct. 30.

Sen. Justo Quitugua asked the nominee to look into the absentee-ballot issue and voters who need to undergo medical treatment off-island and fail to come back in time for the elections.

 He said the voting process should be accessible to all qualified voters, including medical-referral patients.

CEC Executive Director Julita Villagomez said they consider medical-referral patients as absentee voters who can ask for an absentee ballot.

Jesus Sablan, whose current term on the commission ends on Oct. 27, remains its acting chairman. He said  they will meet on Thursday to discuss the designation of the polling places for the Nov. 6 general elections.

As for the appointment of Polly Masga to the CHCC board, Senator Igisomar said the hospital is improving slowly, but added that the board should accelerate the pace of improvements.

He said  the board should also come up with a workable master plan.

Polly DLG Masga

Quitugua wants to know how the hospital is spending the funds provided by the Legislature.

He said over $16 million has been appropriated for the hospital through various public laws in the past few years.

Sen. Frank Cruz, chairman of the Senate Committee on Executive Appointments and Government Investigations, asked Masga to work with her fellow board members and look into expediting the medical-referral process.

He said his office has received a lot of complaints from family members regarding the “slow” process of approving medical referrals.

Masga is currently the general manager of the Marianas Medical Center. She is the former human resources manager for the Pacific Islands Club.

Among those who testified in support of her nomination were Marianas Medical Center owner Dr. Tony Stearns, CHCC CEO Esther Muna, Dr. John Doyle, CHCC board chair Laurie Ogumoroa and Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council Chairman Luis John Castro.