Editorials 2020-March-13

Editorials & Columns
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The NMI delegate is doing a good job

THANKS to his dedication, experience and seniority, Congressman Kilili continues to deliver the proverbial bacon to his constituents in the Marianas. Among other things, his ongoing efforts to provide more stability to the Commonwealth workforce deserves the full support of the Torres administration, the rest of the CNMI leadership, and the local business community.

Recently, the congressman introduced legislation to appropriate $100 million in emergency assistance to the CNMI. The amount is less than a drop in the massive bucket of federal aid that the U.S. government is appropriating in response to the global Covid-19 outbreak, and there is a good chance that the bill will be passed by the U.S. Congress.

Besides addressing the public’s concerns regarding Covid-19, the CNMI government, for its part, should wrap up the land-lease negotiations with the Hyatt and Fiesta Resort which should be allowed to continue serving the island and its visitors.

However bleak the current situation may seem — and it is pretty bleak — it will, one way or another, sooner or later, clear up, and the tourism industry will remain the mainstay of the local economy.

Catch the perp

LAST week, MHS was “locked down” because of an email threat from a student account. As part of PSS protocol, the other public schools on Saipan were also locked down, and federal and local law enforcement officers in full gear conducted an extensive search at MHS before an “all-clear” was announced.

In January, KHS received a “shooting threat” from a student email account, but the student denied sending the email. The student might be telling the truth. But as a parent told Variety following the MHS lockdown, “Until a perpetrator is held accountable for wasting everyone’s time and government resources, there will be more of these ‘threats.’ ”

What happened?

WHEN the San Antonio hostage-taking incident unfolded on Tuesday afternoon, law enforcement officers responded with full force but acted with restraint and caution. For the next 36 hours, they tried to negotiate with the hostage-taker — a person with a criminal record — who had fired his gun more than once. Law enforcers, in addition, provided him with food and medicine.

But between 2:30 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Thursday, law enforcers “breached” the residence where the hostage-taker and his hostage were, and the result was a shootout in which both died.

There have been hostage-taking incidents in the CNMI before, but none, as far as we can remember, ended in bloodshed. In early 1999, for example, a group of inmates grabbed the gun of a jail guard, took control of their holding area, and held their fellow inmates hostages for about 14 hours. The ring-leader fired a gun, saying it was a “warning shot.” But in that incident, the relatives of the hostage-takers were allowed to talk to and meet with the hostage-takers. Shortly thereafter, they surrendered.

DPS has to explain to the public what exactly happened in San Antonio between 2:30 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Thursday. Who ordered the “breach,” and why? Like most members of the community, we appreciate the vital services provided by DPS, 24/7, rain or shine. But we also hope that DPS, and all of us, can draw appropriate lessons from this tragedy.

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