Marianas Variety

Last updateWed, 14 Nov 2018 12am

Headlines:

     

     

     

     

     

    Tuesday, November 13, 2018-2:00:37P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

Font Size

Settings

NMI’s first elected AG assumes office

FORMER Superior Court Presiding Judge Edward Eladio Manibusan yesterday assumed office as the CNMI’s first elected attorney general.

Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro administered the oath of office to Manibusan during a 30-minute investiture ceremony in the Supreme Court courtroom.

In an interview the AG said: “I will call for a staff meeting to learn what they are doing and to implement immediate restructuring.”

In his speech, Manibusan said “the oath I have taken today applies to all government and elected officials. It is an enduring oath. I ask each and every government official to act faithfully in the discharge of his or her duty to the best of his/her ability as I do so myself”

Manibusan said he wants the AG’s office “to be the best law firm in the commonwealth, in all the territories and in all of Micronesia. My over-arching goal is to ensure the safety and security of the people of the commonwealth.”

He said he is “committed to working with the governor and regulatory agencies, and I plan to engage with our commonwealth agencies and meet regularly to discuss issues to build and improve relationships, discussing issues relating to enforcement of our law and to promote training so that we can all property and legally do our job.”

Manibusan said “in a few weeks, budget permitting, I will hire a deputy attorney general.”

He said “the position is critical to the function and operation of the AGO. The position requires a person who possesses good judgment, credibility, integrity and good moral character. This person together with the AG will be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the office.”

He said he is “committed to pursuing justice and not to prosecuting cases for numbers.”

“I will bring in a chief prosecutor who will manage the criminal division and ensure that all criminal cases are thoroughly investigated and reviewed before charges are filed — a chief prosecutor with years of experience who will look at charging decisions, plea bargaining policies and one who will work with law enforcement in investigating cases and bringing individuals to justice.

CNMI Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro, right, administers the oath of office to  Attorney General Edward E. Manibusan, left, as Mrs. Delfina Manibusan holds the Bible. CNMI Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro, right, administers the oath of office to Attorney General Edward E. Manibusan, left, as Mrs. Delfina Manibusan holds the Bible.

“[A]cknowledging the tremendous power of the attorney general in the prosecution of crimes. I am committed to ensuring a fair criminal justice system for all citizens.

“I am committed to keeping the rule of law for everyone, individuals and government alike. I am committed to making sure the Office of the AG is open and transparent.”

Joaquin V. Diaz served as the master of ceremonies, the session starting at 9 a.m. and ending 30 minutes later.

Deborah Fisher gave brief welcoming remarks and introduced Manibusan. She recalled that Manibusan, then the local court’s presiding judge, hired her as law clerk and brought her to Saipan in 1998.

Fisher said Manibusan “through years of quiet service has committed himself to making this community stronger and better. And the people of the CNMI recognized not just his outstanding legal credentials, but his service to this community, when they voted for AG Manibusan. The people have thrown their support to AG Manibusan, and I cannot think of a better person to introduce now as your new Attorney General, Edward Manibusan.”

Mrs. Delfina “Del” V. Manibusan held the Bible as Chief Justice Castro administered the oath to Manibusan.

Father Ryan Jimenez, apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa, blessed Manibusan and his wife.

“In wisdom and foresight, the commonwealth of the Northern Marianas recognized the need for its own elected attorney general. On this day we celebrate an historic moment in our judicial history as we inaugurate the first attorney general chosen by popular vote of the people,” Jimenez said.

Manibusan, in his remarks, thanked the over 8,000 voters and all of the people of the CNMI who believed in him “to lead one of the most important organizations in our commonwealth.”

Attorney General Edward E. Manibusan poses with, from left, Supreme Court Clerk of Court Deanna M. Manglona-Ogo, attorney Deborah Fisher, attorney Lillian Ada-Tenorio, Assistant Attorney General Cinta M. Kaipat, former Judge and AG Herbert D. Soll, Manibusan, former AG Gil Birnbirch and attorney Robert T. Torres.  Photos by Andrew O. De GuzmanAttorney General Edward E. Manibusan poses with, from left, Supreme Court Clerk of Court Deanna M. Manglona-Ogo, attorney Deborah Fisher, attorney Lillian Ada-Tenorio, Assistant Attorney General Cinta M. Kaipat, former Judge and AG Herbert D. Soll, Manibusan, former AG Gil Birnbirch and attorney Robert T. Torres. Photos by Andrew O. De Guzman

He also thanked Chief Justice Castro for swearing him in and for allowing his investiture to be held in the Supreme Court courtroom.

Manibusan likewise thanked his “hardworking [campaign] committee.”

He spoke of the “dramatic” change from an appointed to an elected AG.

He said, “We all know the reasons why. And on this great occasion, I will not revisit what occurred in those dark days in the history of our commonwealth. What I can tell you is those dark days that took us here have become lighter and brighter and will not be repeated under my watch.”

Manibusan said he will establish a Solicitors Division to ensure timely review of contracts, providing legal opinions to the executive branch and its agencies and addressing legislative concerns.

He will seek funding for the Office of Consumer Counsel, and re-establish a white collar crime/public corruption unit within the criminal division to work with the Office of Public Auditor and other law enforcement agencies on cases involving graft and corruption.

Manibusan said he wants the AGO to be “a truly independent office free from political interference and influence as mandated by the people.”

He wants his staff, legal and administrative, trained internally and through organizations such as the National Association of Attorneys General.

He also wants to expand the training to government offices on government procurement so that the government can be more efficient and reduce or eliminate procurement disputes.

He said he will ask for flexibility over the AGO budget in order “to accomplish the goals of a truly independent AG” while working with the executive branch and the Legislature “to secure the AG’s right as an independent office to procure goods and services, and to hire personnel and set its own budget.”