CNMI Rep. Ivan A. Blanco (R-Saipan) passed away today after being taken to the Commonwealth Health Center’s emergency room, He was 45.
According to Marianas Variety-CNMI, Blanco attended a Developmental Disabilities Council meeting at the Aqua Resort Friday morning and "felt weak and then became unresponsive" by noon.
He was rushed to the Commonwealth Health Center where he was pronounced dead at past 1:30 p.m., according to Marianas Variety.
CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres ordered that the CNMI and U.S. flags be flown at half-staff in honor of Blanco.
"Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios and I, along with our families and our commonwealth, extend our deepest heartfelt condolences to his wife Carmen, their children Lilly, JC, +Pierre, Kide, Paige, and the entire Blanco family during this difficult time," Torres said in a statement.
He described Blanco as a "true statesman in every sense of the title."
"He was humble, intelligent, and passionate, and he held a deep love for our islands and the people who call them home, especially his beloved Precinct 3. He was a gifted communicator that brought people together and knew how to make anyone feel welcome," Torres said. "He treated everyone with kindness and respect and worked until his passing day to make a better Commonwealth so that our future generations are blessed with an opportunity to have a better life."
"He lived his life purposefully and with immense joy, lighting up any room with his warm smile and cheerful greetings. He believed in raising the standard of living in the Marianas by developing our economy responsibly, enhancing our infrastructure, and protecting our environment.
"He believed in the power of our youth to make a difference and empowered them to be leaders in the future. He also believed in collaboration with our Micronesian brothers and sisters to achieve solutions for our communities across our Blue Continent. "
Blanco was first elected representative of Precinct 3 in 2016 and was re-elected in 2018 and 2020.
CNMI Press Secretary Kevin Bautista remembered Blanco as one of the first friends he made when he came back home to work for the CNMI government in 2015.
"He welcomed me as an equal and treated everyone around him with dignity and respect. He was a gifted communicator, and an even better Congressman, who always looked out for the people of Precinct 3 and the Marianas.," Bautista said.
"To follow in his footsteps as press secretary was an honor, and his mentorship meant everything to me during those first years in public service. Every now and then, we would check in with each other in our busy schedules just to see how the other was doing," he added.
Blanco was a graduate of Creighton University. He worked with the Office of the National Public Auditor of the Federated States of Micronesia for three years before he became director of the Central Statistics Division of the CNMI Department of Commerce.
He later became the department’s deputy secretary and then the special assistant for protocol and communications of the CNMI Office of the governor.
On Guam, the Republican Party said it was saddened by the sudden passing of Blanco.
“Congressman Blanco was not only a great public servant, but a dedicated family man and friend. His leadership will be missed,” stated Republican of Party of Guam Chairman Juan Carlos Benitez.
“He was a great public servant for the people of the CNMI and a good friend of the people of Guam. On behalf of the Republican Caucus, I ask that we continue to pray for his family during this difficult time”, stated Minority Leader Chris Duenas.
Blanco was the secretary of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures.
The Committee on Regional Affairs released the following statement:
“It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Representative Blanco, and I extend my sincerest condolences and sympathies to his wife Carmen, family, and friends. Ivan will be remembered for his passion and steadfast commitment to serving his constituents and the CNMI as a whole.
"Through the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures and the Marianas Working Group, I was blessed to work beside him in uplifting our communities, encouraging innovation and economic development, and safeguarding opportunities for our peoples. Ivan taught me a lot as a public servant, and I was fortunate to call him a friend. I join the people of the CNMI in mourning his untimely passing,” said Vice Speaker Tina Rose Muña Barnes, chairwoman of the Committee on Regional Affairs.
"As the APIL Secretary, Rep. Blanco represented the Marianas well and shared the Håfa adai spirit with our brothers and sisters across Oceania. Our brother Ivan will be sorely missed, and we extend our condolences to the people of the Marianas and especially to his family and loved ones," added former senator Régine Biscoe Lee.
“Representative Ivan Blanco was a genuine soul committed to improving the quality of life for everyone who resides in the Marianas. He was a pioneer, statesman, family and Godly man. We mourn the loss of a brother and a friend,” stated former senator Wil Castro.
"Representative Blanco represented the NMC Legislature in APIL and was well respected by the regional legislative body. The members of the APIL are heartbroken and he will be dearly missed by his brothers and sisters throughout the Micronesia region. Our sincerest condolences to Carmen and the family," APIL Central Secretariat, Walden Weilbacher."