17 Feb 2017
- By Bryan Manabat - email@example.com - Variety News Staff
THE office of Micronesian Legal Services on Capital Hill was burglarized and then set on fire, MLSC executive director Lee Pliscou said on Thursday, adding that there was evidence of forced entry.
“We worried about security — we’re concerned about it like everybody else. But we’ve been up here for a long time and hadn’t had any problems. We took adequate precautions, but it seems there are no guarantees.”
Among the items stolen from the office were a portable generator worth $1,800 and a step-down transformer, he said, adding that they are also missing some files and documents.
“Other than the generator, most of the things that people might take are still there. So a few things are missing but much was also left, and no compromising information was taken,” Pliscou said.
The MLSC office is in a Trust Territory-era building that the CNMI government allows them to use, he added.
He said they have informed the governor’s office about the situation and are seeking possible solutions.
“We had been thinking about a long-term solution because the termite damage was bad even before the fire. This is an opportunity to re-visit that issue and figure out what is the right thing to do. But absent better ideas, we will fix it as best we can and move right back in.”
In the meantime, Pliscou said, they will be working at their other office in Chalan Piao.
MLSC is a non-profit corporation established in 1970 to provide low-income persons in Micronesia with free legal assistance in civil matters.
When asked if the incident will hamper the services they provide, Pliscou said: “In terms of service to clients, which are our focus, we’re doing everything we can to minimize the impact. But I don’t foresee anything significant.”
Pliscou said MLSC is supported by the community, CNMI legislative appropriations, the local bar association and private donations.
In a report, Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services public information officer Derek Gersonde said their investigation determined that the fire was set to cover up a burglary and theft.
He said the point of origin of the fire was an office located in the center of the building, but the fire died before it could spread further.