Political status commission suspends operations

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IN light of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions and lack of funding, the Second Marianas Political Status Commission has suspended its operations.

The commission was created by Public Law 19-63 “to examine whether the people desire continuing in a ‘Political Union with the United States of America.’”

With all the eight members present, the commission met on April 23 and voted to suspend its operations, including its public education activities, effective April 30.

Its chairman, former Sen. Pete P. Reyes told Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao that part of the commissioners’ mandate was to schedule and hold public education hearings in all of the three senatorial districts of the CNMI.

Pete Reyes

But this is currently not possible because of the Covid-19 emergency, Reyes said.

Another concern, he added, is the lack of funding to continue to operate and pay for accrued and accruing administrative staff invoices, some of which have not been paid since January.

Reyes said they were also informed by Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig that the initial funding appropriated for the commission by P.L. 19-63 “is no longer available to the commission to pay its expenses.”

Reyes said, “Other sources of funding must be used to pay for the invoices for the services already provided to the commission.”

He also recognizes that at present, government revenue sources  are limited and scarce.

For these reasons, the commission voted to suspend its operations, he added.

Reyes said when the governor feels that the situation in the Commonwealth allows for public gatherings, the commission will meet again and decide when to resume its operations. The resumption will depend on the availability of funding for the commission, he added.

The other members of the commission are Frank Rabauliman, Zania Fleming, Fermin Atalig, Aubry Hocog, Richard Lazaro, John Gonzales, Elizabeth Rechebei, and Rosemond Santos.

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