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    Thursday, November 15, 2018-10:53:20P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Babauta sues NMI gov’t over Marpi swimming pool

FORMER Gov. Juan Nekai Babauta, representing himself, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of young swimmers and 14,000 petitioners to re-open the former Kan Pacific swimming pool in Marpi.

 Babauta, an independent candidate for governor, is suing the CNMI government, Gov. Ralph Deleon Guerrero Torres, Department of Public Lands Secretary Marianne Concepcion-Teregeyo, 100 unnamed government appointees, 100 unnamed government employees, and 100 unidentified business entities.

Juan Nekai Babauta

 Babauta is seeking an injunction  from the Superior Court ordering the CNMI government and DPL to re-open the Marpi swimming pool for public use.

 Babauta is also seeking expedited injunctive relief of prohibitive effect against the defendants so they will “take immediate action and the steps necessary to reverse, remediate, and repair the waste and recent decline of the Mari pool.”

 According to the lawsuit, the Marpi pool is the only swimming facility in the CNMI suitable for competitive swim training, local and international swim competition, water polo, and many other aquatic activities and events.

 Babauta is asking the court’s help in invoking the doctrine of equity and fairness on behalf of the 14,000 petitioners who sought the CNMI government’s help to save the Marpi pool.

He said the NMI Swimming Federation, backed by the Northern Marianas Sports Association and the 2018 Pacific Mini-Games Oversight Committee, have asked Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres to help them keep the Olympic-sized swimming pool, “which is now subject to Imperial Pacific International management after a takeover of [Kan Pacific’s] Mariana Resort & Spa.”

Babauta said the Torres administration has not made a reply to the petition.

 Approximately 40 years ago, he said Mariana Resort leased public land where the Marpi pool was constructed as well as  a baseball field, and an 18-hole golf course.

Babauta said members of the NMI public were permitted by Mariana Resort to use the facilities at minimal cost.

Mariana Resort’s land-lease agreement with the CNMI government expired in April 2018. Imperial Pacific International wants to acquire the hotel.

 Babauta’s lawsuit states that as a consequence of IPI’s takeover, the Marpi pool has been abandoned and is now rapidly deteriorating.

He is accusing the defendants of breach of fiduciary duty, waste, and negligence, and asking the court for declaratory relief.

 He said the doctrine of equity and fairness allows the court to freely fashion any equitable remedy for the benefit of the community, “specifically for the swimmers and the 14,000 individuals whose names appear in the petition.”

 The former governor is also seeking an award of damages in an amount to be determined by the court, as well as legal and court fees.

 Babauta said in the event the court awards him damages, he intends to donate those funds for use of organizations currently providing activities and services to the CNMI community at large, including aquatic groups and organizations catering to hydro-therapy recipients, the elderly, the retirees and Marpi pool fitness enthusiasts.

 Babauta said he initiated the lawsuit because he feels that the people are reluctant “to take action for themselves for fear of retaliation or retribution by the governor or by DPL.”

 In filing his lawsuit pro se, Babauta said he also has hopes of “being provided legal representation by one of the many CNMI licensed attorneys who themselves and together with their spouses and children make use of the Marpi pool.”

Asked for comment, the Torres administration said:

“It is a sad state of affairs when a political candidate ties up our judicial system for blatant political objectives. The people of the CNMI are not easily misled by the political manipulations a gubernatorial candidate is trying to employ. This is a clear sign of a political candidate without a platform or policy position aiming to take advantage of the complexities of public administration for his personal gain. The concerns of those who have grown to love and use the public pool have been heard and will be addressed, and this administration has taken a proactive role in reaching that goal. In addressing these concerns, Mr. Babauta has had no positive role in finding a solution. Governor Torres is confident that the courts will see this for what it is, and that the proper governance of the CNMI will continue after this election is over.”