DPL urged to consult with NMDs

THE Department of Public Lands must consult with people of Northern Marianas descent before finalizing public land deals with investors, an officer of the newly formed NMD Council said.

“We would like see in any future leases that DPL consults with the real owners of public lands, the NMDs, so we can offer a better recommendation to ensure that the deal will benefit us,” NMD Council vice chairman Glenn Manglona said.

Manglona’s call was supported by Rep. Joseph Leepan T. Guerrero.

“How does NMDs understand what is being negotiated? They only get to know about it when they read it in the newspaper, after the negotiation is completed. How would the NMD get the opportunity to be part of this so- called meeting that is happening?” he asked.

Manglona, for his part, noted NMDs are the stakeholders of public lands.

“We know that DPL has the authority under the Constitution to manage public lands but at least let us know what is going on, give us the report of how much money they are making out of public lands. We want full transparency,” Manglona said.

He said their newly organized group is pushing for public land benefits on behalf of all NMDs.

“It doesn’t matter what political party you are affiliated. The underlying issue here is, when it comes to NMD interest you are part of us. We are working for you. We are fighting for the interest of NMDs,” he added.

Guerrero, who chairs the House Committee on Commerce and Tourism, said he doesn’t think NMDs are included in the process whenever DPL starts negotiating with investors who are seeking to lease public land.

Guerrero said he believes NMDs should decide what is their best interest.

“Yes, DPL, you are the office in charge to oversee the operation of DPL. But sometimes they need public input,” he added.

DPL must hold a public hearing before making a final decision, Guerrero said.

“NMDs should be given the chance to be heard, that is why DPL should hold public hearings. A public hearing is a critical component of the process to get everybody’s input,” he added.

DPL Secretary Marianne Teregeyo is on personal leave until June 3 while acting DPL Secretary Irene Torres had yet to respond to Variety’s request for comments.