Marianas Variety

Last updateSat, 21 Sep 2019 12am







    Saturday, September 21, 2019-2:28:20P.M.






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Political status commission members will work without pay

MEMBERS of the Second Marianas Political Status Commission on Thursday agreed to waive their stipends for their future meetings.

Pete Reyes

The motion was made by its chairman, former Sen. Pete P. Reyes, during a meeting in the House chamber at 1 p.m.

The other members present approved the motion.

The commission was created by Public Law 19-63, which also provides that, “All members of the commission shall be entitled to reimbursement for reasonable, necessary and actual expenses incurred by them in the course and scope of their work for the commission.”

Like members of other commissions, boards, government corporations and autonomous agencies, MPSC members get paid $60 each for a full-day meeting and $30 for a half day or less meeting.

The CNMI law sets an annual cap of $6,000.

Under the law, “a member who is employed by the Commonwealth shall receive his regular salary under administrative leave status in lieu of compensation for meetings held during working hours.”

Reyes said the commission will continue to perform its tasks as envisioned in Public Law 19-63. These include “examining the present political relationship between the Northern Marianas and the U.S.; and determining whether the people of the NMI are still in favor of continuing in ‘Political Union with the United States of America’ pursuant to the Covenant, and/or prefer some other political status options that would better enable them to fulfill their hope and aspirations of full, meaningful and a well-defined self-government status.”

P.L. 19-63 also authorizes the governor to allot $100,000 for the commission.

In an interview after the meeting, Reyes said with the financial crisis besetting the government, the commission decided to work within their budget that they expect will be cut.

He said he suggested that the commissioners should not receive compensation until the CNMI economy is back in good shape. They also agreed to freeze hiring, Reyes said.

“What we’re trying to do is to start the cuts with the members of the commission,” he added.

He noted that the commission members are either retirees or are employed by the government or the private sector.

For their next meeting on Tinian, he said the commission will hold a public hearing at the same time to save money.

“We don’t want to be known as a commission that did not do its job just because of funding issue. We want to be an exemption — we will continue to move forward despite very limited funds,” Reyes said.

On Thursday, the commission met with Vicente N. Santos, former president of the Marianas District Legislature and a member of the first Marianas Political Status Commission which negotiated the Covenant with the U.S. government.

Santos recounted his experiences in the Covenant negotiations. He discussed the challenges of working with people with different ideas and how they reconciled them in drafting an agreement acceptable to the U.S. government and the people of the NMI.