CNMI governor prepares for impeachment trial in the Senate
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres is psyching himself up for the impending impeachment trial in the Republican-led CNMI Senate, where he enjoys a certain level of political comfort.
“I reiterate my previous statements by expressing my trust in the Senate’s ability to conduct upcoming proceedings regarding this matter with transparency, in proper decorum, and in accordance with a set of published rules," the Republican governor said in a statement today following the House of Representatives' 15-4 vote to adopt the impeachment resolution charging him with felonies, misuse of government resources and neglect of duty.
The nine-member Senate comprises six Republicans, one independent and two Democrats.
"And further, that they will restore credibility and respect for these truth-seeking processes and ensure fairness and equal protection under the law," said Torres, who is seeking reelection.
The resolution consists of six articles of impeachment: theft of utility services, questionable reimbursements of personal expenses, unlawful first-class and business-class travels, misuse of government resources, negligence during crisis and contempt of legislature.
Outside the legislative building on Capital Hill, residents staged a rally seeking Torres' impeachment.
“It is unfortunate to witness the hatred and the willful spread of misinformation from the mouths of certain individuals, as evidenced by the calls for impeachment and the demonstration held outside of the legislature," the governor said.
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“To those who showed up to support the House’s vote for impeachment, I respect your right to peacefully protest," Torres said. "However, I continue to respectfully urge you to try to look past your personal biases, and see the situation for what it is: they want to impeach a governor simply because they do not like him. I have done nothing wrong, and the facts support this."
If he survives the impeachment trial in the Senate, Torres will be in a three-way race against his current lt. governor Arnold I. Palacios, now running as an independent, and Democratic Rep. Tina Sablan.
Torres, the ninth governor of the CNMI, first assumed the gubernatorial seat on Dec. 29, 2015 following the death of Gov. Eloy Inos. In 2018, he was reelected as governor in his own right, defeating former governor Juan Babauta. At 42,
Torres became the youngest incumbent governor in the United States.
"I have been advocating for all of us to work collaboratively as one united commonwealth, and yet, politically-motivated members of the House of Representatives have chosen time and time again against this," Torres said.
"Instead, they have chosen to pursue a witch hunt in order to perpetuate this notion that I am a corrupt leader who does not care for the wellbeing of my home and its people. Those who know me and who have worked with me know that this could not be true.”
“Not only have the members of the House Committee on JGO made repeated personal attacks against myself, members of my family, and the hardworking members of my administration, their willingness to spread false and misleading information benefiting their personal interests is unbecoming of any elected official and knows no end.”
Torres maintained his innocence, dismissing the House Judiciary and Governmental Operations' allegations as a political attack.
“To say that I am a governor who has committed felonies, as stated in the House Resolution for impeachment, is not factual by any means," he said.
“I have said this multiple times and I will continue to say it. I have not done anything illegal. Those who choose to accuse me of wrongdoings choose to remain blind to the fact that progress and good work continues in the Marianas for my supporters and nonsupporters alike," he added.
“"Even after today’s impeachment proceedings, I continue to reach across the branches to reaffirm my position that we are a stronger Marianas when we choose to work together," Torres said.