Marianas Variety

Last updateTue, 22 Oct 2019 12am







    Sunday, October 20, 2019-8:57:37A.M.






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Retired judge calls for constitutional convention

RETIRED Judge Juan T. Lizama said a constitutional convention can resolve the legal questions regarding the vacancy in the 21st House of Representatives following the death of Rep. Frank S. Dela Cruz.

Dela Cruz was re-elected in November but he passed away before the inauguration of the 21st Legislature.

Juan T. Lizama

In an email to Variety, Lizama said he agrees with former CNMI Senate legal counsel Stephen Woodruff who believes that former Rep. Donald Barcinas “should claim the seat that Dela Cruz was unfortunately not able to hold due to his untimely passing.”

Barcinas finished seventh in Precinct 3 which has six House seats.

Lizama said “upon further consideration of the legal cases and citations to the Constitution…I firmly believe the best course of action to this unfortunate situation is for the 21st House of Representatives to pass enabling legislation for a 4th Constitutional Convention.”

He added, “The reality is a tragic event like this is possible again. Therefore, the voters deserve the utmost clarity as to the process that will be undertaken to identify who their rightful, duly elected representatives should be.”

Lizama said he hopes that “our current sitting representatives understand that piecing together constitutional clauses and legal decisions is a poor substitute compared to having clear legislation to resolve this matter once and for all.” 

He added, “We’re all seeing a rapidly changing island.  Issues like Article XI and Article XII are just as timely to address [as well as] Northern Marianas College, the Northern Marianas College Foundation, and certainly, many more.”

On Tuesday, Speaker BJ Attao informed Gov. Ralph Torres that a vacancy exists in the 21st House of Representatives.

The governor earlier said that a special election will be held to fill the vacancy.