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Judiciary resubmits proposed procurement rules to Legislature

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THE judiciary has submitted an updated version of its proposed procurement rules to the Senate and House of Representatives.

The original procurement rules submitted by the judiciary on March 23 were disapproved by the House even though Attorney General Edward Manibusan stated that the proposed rules “are a necessary part of the administrative functions of the judiciary.” The AG said the proposed rules should be given the presumption of legality, adding that they will be tried and tested over time.

In a joint letter, Chief Justice Alexandro Castro and Presiding Judge Roberto Naraja told Senate President Victor Hocog and Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao that the judiciary has re-evaluated and updated the proposed procurement rules in light of the various concerns raised by the House Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operation and the Office of the Public Auditor.

The chief justice and the presiding judge also told the lawmakers that the administration has no objection to the updated proposed rules.

Since the ratification of House Legislative Initiative 10-3, which made the CNMI judicial branch co-equal and independent of the executive and legislative branches, the judiciary has had a series of discussions with the central government, on the issue of procurement, Castro and Naraja said.

They recalled that in 2013, the Judiciary also met with then-Gov. Eloy S. Inos, and as a result of the meeting, the Department of Finance  issued a letter stating that the procurement responsibilities pertaining to the judiciary would be handed over to the judiciary.

Castro and Naraja said the judiciary has “efficiently and prudently handled its procurement since the handover, and it has overseen the processes whenever the judiciary has been given the authority to do so.”

The judiciary, they added,  worked with past administrations and continues to work with the Torres-Palacios administration in carrying out and overseeing the procurement functions of the  judiciary in accordance with the authority delegated by the Department of Finance.

“It is critical for the judiciary to handle its own procurement functions so as to effectuate the intent behind H.L.I. 10-3 and Article IV [of the NMI Constitution],” Castro and Naraja said. “In so doing, we elevate the CNMI judiciary’s institutional independence to the same level as that of the other judicial branches across the nation.”

 

 

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