Casino commission nominees confirmed

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GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres’ three nominees to the Commonwealth Casino Commission were confirmed on Tuesday by the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation.

Edward C. Deleon Guerrero, Ralph S. Demapan, and Mario Taitano will be sworn in this week to serve a six-year term, according to the delegation chairman, House Floor Leader John Paul Sablan.

He said, “It is critical to have a functional casino commission now because there are tens of millions of dollars that the lone casino licensee, Imperial Pacific International, must pay the Commonwealth.”

Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation Chairman John Paul Sablan, center background, floor leader Vinnie Sablan, left, and vice chairman Roman Benavente during a delegation session on Tuesday. Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

Seventeen members voted in favor of Deleon Guerrero’s confirmation while three voted no: Rep. Sheila Babauta, Rep. Tina Sablan, and House Minority Leader Edwin Propst.

Deleon Guerrero served for five years as the executive director of the casino commission.

Fourteen delegation members voted to confirm Demapan, a former House speaker. Six voted no: Propst, Babauta, Tina Sablan, Reps. Richard Lizama, Edmund Villagomez, and Ralph Yumul.

Taitano, a former House member, received 15 yes votes. Those against his confirmation were Propst, Babauta, Tina Sablan, and Lizama. Villagomez who is Taitano’s nephew, voted “present.”

The other members present during the delegation session were Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao, delegation vice chairman Rep. Roman Benavente, Vice Speaker Lorenzo I. Deleon Guerrero, delegation floor leader Sen. Vinnie Sablan, Senate Floor Leader Justo Quitugua, Reps. Joseph Leepan Guerrero, Janet Maratita, Luis John Castro, Jose Itibus, Marco Peter, Joel Camacho, and Joseph Flores.

 Edward C. Deleon Guerrero  Ralph S. Demapan  Mario Taitano

 Sen. Sixto Igisomar was excused.

Taitano expressed his gratitude to the members of the Saipan delegation and to the governor for their confidence in him to represent the interest of retirees and his Refaluwasch brothers and sisters on the casino commission.

In an interview after the session, delegation chairman and House Floor Leader John Paul Sablan said he was glad that the nominees were confirmed. He noted that since April 30, when the terms of Juan M. Sablan, Jose C. Reyes, and Alvaro Santos ended, there had been no functional casino commission. The remaining members — former Tinian Mayor Ramon Dela Cruz and former Rota Sen. Diego Songao — did not comprise a quorum. 

Now that the casino commission has five members again, he added, it must hold the casino operator accountable.






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