As CNMI prepares for polls, Torres set to deliver State of Commonwealth Address
Updated: Oct 20, 2022
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Saipan-- As he prepares for the gubernatorial race, CNMI Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres is set to deliver the 2022 State of the Commonwealth Address on Oct. 31 at the Kensington Hotel, where he is expected to present a recap of his administration's work and make a pitch for his reelection bid.
Torres was originally set to deliver his address on Oct. 21. However, the governor is seeking to convene a joint legislative session to receive the State of the Commonwealth Address.
“My administration is excited to share with the community the state of our commonwealth and the journey we have taken over the unprecedented events of the last few years," said Torres, whose administration was tested by typhoons, Covid-19, tourism slump and casino-linked scandals.
Without giving specific details, the governor said he "will be talking about our work together as a community and what we should do for our future if we continue this journey together."
Torres, who fought charges of corruption and official misconduct, survived the impeachment initiated by the House of Representatives. However, he is still facing criminal charges in court for contempt of the legislature and abuse of public resources related to his off-island travels.
The Republican governor is running in a three-way race against his former political ally, Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios, and Rep. Tina Sablan, one of the governor's most vocal critics, who spearheaded the impeachment move.
"We got some big choices ahead as a commonwealth, but I truly believe that if we make those right choices, our future will be bright," Torres said. "I really look forward to updating our community, both on island and online."
In his invitation letter to Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez, Torres said, "With increased access to federal assistance and stronger federal relationships, partnerships built between the public and private sectors, the return of our tourism industry, and a community that is ready to look toward the future, I humbly ask for your attendance as I share the story of the resilience of our islands and its people."
According to a report by Marianas Variety, Palacios and Sablan did receive invitations to the event, which they said veered away from the traditional protocol.
Palacios said the legislature typically adopts a joint resolution to invite the governor to deliver his SOCA.
"I'm not sure what to call it since it was not the legislature that called for the SOCA. What the governor plans to hold cannot be officially called SOCA," Marianas Variety quoted Palacios as saying.
Sablan told Variety that the SOCA "strikes me as being more of a campaign event to be held at the Kensington just before election time. I would be very interested in knowing how this is being funded and ultimately what it will cost taxpayers."
The governor's office issued the following statement, clarifying that the event is open to everyone.
“In line with respecting the authority of the presiding officers of the legislative and judicial branches of the CNMI government, formal invitation letters have been sent out to the president of the Senate, the speaker of the House, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, and the presiding judge of the Superior Court to invite them, as well as the respective members of their chambers," the governor's office said in a statement.
"This has been standard protocol in formal communications between the branches of government.
"Reserved seats have been designated for all members of the legislature and all justices and judges of the judiciary. This is inclusive of all other elected officials, as is always the case for a State of the Commonwealth Address.
"Invitations have also been sent out to the Cabinet, autonomous agency boards and executives, private sector partners and community stakeholders."