Marianas Variety

Last updateSat, 21 Sep 2019 12am







    Saturday, September 21, 2019-5:27:56P.M.






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Another article of impeachment to be filed against Fitial

 GOVERNOR Benigno R. Fitial’s failure to appoint a Department of Public Safety commissioner constitutes neglect of duty and should be included in the articles of impeachment that the 18th House is expected to introduce and adopt this year, according to Rep. Francisco S. Dela Cruz.

In an interview, Dela Cruz told reporters yesterday that he is now examining the situation at DPS where the governor “consistently alternates two brothers as acting commissioners.”

Francisco S. Dela Cruz
He was referring to DPS Deputy Commissioner Ambrosio T. Ogumoro and his brother, Police Director Aniceto T. Ogumoro, who alternate as acting commissioner for 90-day periods.

“It’s like a merry-go-round,” Dela Cruz said.

There were originally 16 articles of impeachment introduced by the House minority bloc which will now have 16 of the 20 House seats in the 18th Legislature. The governor was charged with four felonies, five counts of corruption and seven counts of neglect of duty.

Dela Cruz disclosed that one impeachment article accusing Fitial of neglect of duty for failing to pay the CNMI Retirement Find will not be included the new impeachment resolution.

But neglect of duty for failing to appoint a DPS commissioner will be added, he said.

“So the governor’s failure to appoint a DPS commissioner is another article that I will put forth, so we go back to 16 articles,” Dela Cruz said.

He said the 18th Legislature does not have to wait for the court’s final ruling on the lawsuit involving the governor’s $190 million power purchase agreement with Saipan Development LLC before they can include it in the impeachment resolution.

He said they will look at all the articles of impeachment while the judiciary only decides on one of them — the governor’s signing of the power deal with Saipan Development LLC.

“The work of the House is to find probable cause whether the evidence is enough to support the impeachment,” Dela Cruz said.

He does not believe the ongoing court hearings on the power deal issue will affect the new impeachment move.

“I believe that the governor was very much responsible in the power purchase deal. He was into this all along, behind closed doors, until the media broke the story,” he said.

The 18th Legislature will be sworn in on Jan. 14.

Incoming Speaker Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero earlier said that aside from the resolution to adopt House rules, they will introduce the new impeachment resolution against the governor because it was the mandate given to them by the people in the last elections.

In a separate interview Senate President Paul A. Manglona said Fitial’s failure to appoint a DPS commissioner amid rising criminality is an impeachable offense.

He said appointing a DPS commissioner was something the governor should have done many months ago. He said that despite the burglaries, robberies, murders and the unsolved case of the missing Luhk sisters, the governor has refused to submit a nominee for DPS commissioner.

“This is something very serious. As long as nobody is in charge, the police are not going to make things better. It is irresponsible on the part of governor and that is an impeachable offense,” Manglona said.

The Senate president also noted the funding issue that the police commanders raised with Sen. Frank Q. Cruz last week.

Manglona said, “Yes, there is a budget issue but all of this is compounded by the fact that there is no commissioner and nobody is taking the leadership role that is badly needed in the department.”

Neither of the Ogumoro brothers was present when DPS commanders met with Cruz in the Senate chamber last Dec. 27.