Two Letters to the Editor

May 11, 2009

Today's Saipan Tribune had a variety of thought provoking letters to the editor.  A heartfelt letter from Ernest Maicle relays the sentiments of many guest workers:
Of hopes and possibilities

It has been more than five years since I was introduced to a group simply known as MOVER. I can still vividly picture the first time I was introduced to the group one Sunday noon and most of the members were people who, I have learned, had stayed in the Marianas for a long time. Since then, I started joining the Sunday meeting of this group for I have witnessed the organization's primary goals and found it interesting, being involved in cleaning the environment and helping their fellow guest workers.

Picking up trash, cleaning seashores, restoring drainages along beaches, cutting bushes and all that is not easy work, especially when you are doing it during your supposed rest day. I often ask myself, “Don't these guys get enervated?” Yet they enjoy doing what most would find tiring. As time passed, I found out what motivates these people to do such unselfish chores. That is because they love the CNMI and have embraced the passion to take care of its environment because for them, the CNMI is their home. And so I became a member and have considered the group my second family.

But because things are transitory, mostly because of the status of guest workers, the group gradually depopulated. Some joined other groups and more went back to our homeland because their contracts were not renewed. Often, I have seen their reluctance to go home because they have spent their lives in the CNMI for a long time. I was always saddened by these repeated scenarios of guest workers going home. And the notion often crossed my mind that, if only they had the chance to stay longer or if their status is not transitory, then maybe I wouldn't be seeing sad faces and instead the same happy faces that I met five years ago.

For the past few months, I had these questions in mind. Is it be possible for guest workers who have stayed and have loved the CNMI for so long not be impermanent? If the federalization kicks in, will it grant them better status in the CNMI? Since I believe in facts, I started to mingle with friends and talked about Public Law 110-229. And an item in Section 6 of P.L. 110-229 caught our attention. The paragraph is titled “Report on Nonresident Guestworker Population.” The paragraph says, “The Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Governor of CNMI, shall report to the Congress not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008. The report shall include: (1) the number of aliens residing in the CNMI; (2) a description of the legal status of such aliens; (3) the number of years each alien has been residing in the CNMI; (4) the current and future requirements of the CNMI economy for an alien workforce; and (5) such recommendations to the Congress, as the Secretary may deem appropriate, related to whether or not the Congress should consider permitting lawfully admitted guest workers lawfully residing in the CNMI on such enactment date to apply for long-term status under the immigration and nationality laws of the United States.” Sharing thoughts and ideas with my friends and reading each line again and again made me feel that there are answers to my questions. Answers with hopes and possibilities.

Based on my understanding, if the Secretary of Interior is required to submit such a report to Congress and this report will be used by Congress as a basis whether lawfully admitted guest workers may or may not be permitted to apply for long-term status, then there is a possibility for Congress to consider allowing guest workers to apply for long-term status.

With these, I would like to end my lines by asking the Secretary of Interior to please provide such a report to the Congress. a report that can lead to answers to my questions and the plight of many amongst us. Lastly, for the U.S. Congress, please consider and reconsider the status of guest workers in the CNMI.

Ernest M. Maicle
It is not too late to write a letter to Congress! See this post for more information.

_______________________

Another letter, Pray Remove the Pudding, written by Ron Hodges questions statements made in a previous letter to the editor signed by Bill Fitzgerald.  Attorney Fitzgerald's letter defended "volunteers" Willens and Siemer. Ron responds to Mr. Fitzgerald:
Pray remove the pudding

Regarding the letter in defense of Howard and Deanne, I would agree that the high road is best traveled and all deserve compensation for their labor, but residents of the CNMI have valid concerns regarding this matter. Anyone drafting Public Law 15-108, or helping with the disgraceful case against America, that vilified citizens including the federal ombudsman, attacked CNMI Rep. Tina Sablan, participated in ghost-writing letters for the CNMI Department of Labor, lobbied to block the first minimum wage increase here in a decade, or supported the status quo of servitude that has shamed the CNMI and America for a generation, should be considered a liability to the improvement and future of our Commonwealth.

Deanne Siemer's reputation for ethics precedes her. Her past testimony has, according to Judge Roush-a highly regarded Washington D.C. judge who awarded $500,000 in a small matter that involved Siemer-lacked credibility. Read the full account of this tale at http://www.fr.com/jjs/breakingup.pdf and perhaps you will sympathize with the concerns decent citizens of the CNMI have with her involvement, paid or otherwise, in CNMI departmental affairs.
Siemer's response letter to Tina was arrogant, shocking, and fundamentally deceptive. While volunteers have a noble past in health care, child protection, and social justice, free help with legal maneuvering, policy manipulation, and human exploitation pollute the term volunteer and could be used to cloak impropriety, or shield future liability. Disingenuous input into governmental affairs could irreparably harm citizens here and the CNMI may be better served by their removal. These unscrupulous antics should not tarnish the reputations of the good-natured people of these islands.

Ron Hodges
via e-mail

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fitzgerald really wrote that letter?

Anonymous said...

"Pray remove the pudding"?

Anonymous said...

"Pray remove the pudding"? You know Hodges.. and his phrases. Remember the "spitting in the soup" letter? Jeff Turbitt used to be Ron's controller and helped the guy stay out of trouble. Jeff moved off island and Ron is now hellbent on sabotaging himself.

Anonymous said...

"Spit in the Soup" was a title created by the MV staff as Ron did not title the piece and "Pray remove the pudding" was coined by Winston Churchill, a phrase Ron and Deanne understand, but a bit beyond the above noni, Stanely, or Bateman.

Anonymous said...

ERNEST is ONE of the SMARTEST leader the guest workers could have...He was a graduate of computer engineering and worked as a professor in Philippine Military Academy in Baguio for couple of years...
So UNSELFISH with his desire to help improve the staus of long term guest workers way back 2 years ago, when he was just here on island for 3 years knowing his length of stay was not covered...
I salute you Ernest!
I wish there are more people on this island like you!
You are the "UNKNOWN HERO"...

Anonymous said...

In regards to Guest workers getting "status"
Hawaii in the early years accommodated that were brought in as plantations workers. This was done by the Fed Immigration, prior to statehood and after statehood until just before the start of the demise of the plantations when they halted import of contract workers.

After working in Hawaii for 5 years they became eligible to become US citizens.

On the closing of the plantations,most of the workers were deeded the plantation house and surrounding property that were provided by the plantation during their working years.(on all of the islands)
Many took up options to rent some of the plantation land for farming purposes and created farms and supplied the local markets as well as their own small stores.

If this happens to the NMI (US status)this will then have the capability of getting rid of this "old boys network" and "connected" families and changing history with a new NMI.
There will be non indigenous in the elected Govt.and also the working Govt. Not unlike Hawaii and Fiji (among other places.)
This would have the potential of eventually making the NMI closer to self sufficient in the area of farming and possibly fishing along with meat products.
It will also mean an increase of Capital investment funds along with the "intelligence" and capabilities to be able to tap these funds instead of the funds being reverted back to the Fed or sitting idle as has/is happening now.

Also If this happens it will mean more and diverse small business' popping up, creating lower prices.

The Asian nationalities tend to work together to "grow" a business, unlike Polynesian and Pacific Islanders, that seems to always have a family member with a hand in the "kitty" or spend the money before the bills are paid. (mostly credit and forget it)

This could be good in the long run or bad, depending on how you look at it.
It will mean more and more mixed marriages (as in Hawaii, with, now less than 2% pure indigenous blood)
It could also mean a possible loss of the "local" language in the next 25 years.
Tinian and Rota will have it's own drastic changes due to the small present populace.
Another downside it may also drive many islanders to the mainland US or keep many from returning to compete for any jobs.

wendy said...

"Pray remove the pudding. It has no theme", was a phrase attributed to Winston Churchill. It is often quoted and used to express the sentiment that something that is not good or has no purpose must be removed.

Anonymous said...

Pray remove both puddings!

Boboy Doromal said...

Mabuhay Ernest!

I read above that you worked in the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio. Do you know my cousin Colonel Wilhelm Doromal?

Great letter!

Anonymous said...

MOVER hasn't done a cleanup since 2006. What have they been doing the last three years?

snack pack said...

The anonymous commenter a few spaces above is correct that the status issue is ultimately about "changing history with a new NMI," which "could be good in the long run or bad, depending on how you look at it."

An obvious corollary to that is that not everyone is going to look at it the same way. Some may think it's great for history to be changed in a particular way; others will surely disagree. For example, there are certainly those who would view the examples of Hawaii and Fiji as cautionary tales of the kinds of changes to history that should be avoided.

Another corrollary, maybe not as obvious, is that some people, somewhere, are going to have to make the decisions as to whether history should be changed, and if so, how. This means that there is not only a question of what changes, if any, should be made, but who should be making the decisions.

So who SHOULD be making these kinds of history-changing decisions for the creation of a "new NMI?" The locals? The aliens? The feds? Some combinations or subsets of the above? Why?

Anonymous said...

Boboy,

I haven't met Col. Doromal but I've heard of him when I was still there and i think he was a Major then promoted to Colonel when I left baguio city.

As to the one asking the cleanup, the group didn't stop cleaning... only to a certain level and concept...