CNMI News Bites

December 29, 2009

CNMI to Repatriate Body
The CNMI government has finally decided that it will pay for the remains of Evaristo Flores to be flown back to the Philippines. Mr. Flores died on November 6, 2009. In an act of defiant disrespect the CNMI DOL ignored pleas from the widow, Ombudsman Office and Philippine Consulate to expedite the handling of the matter of repatriating the body until this week. Almost two months after his death, the CNMI government will pay for the Mr. Flores' body to be flown to Manila. I was told that the Philippine OWA will cover the expenses from Manila to the family's home province.

By law, the employer of last record is responsible for repatriating the body of the foreign employee. Helen Sablan, Director of the Medicaid Office was the employer of last record and allegedly reported that she lacked the funds to fulfill her legal and moral obligation.

I am glad that the CNMI government has finally decided to do the right thing, yet many questions remain. Will the employer be prosecuted for violating labor law? Will the cost of the repatriation be deducted from her pay checks? Will she be fined by DOL or will she walk free like the thousands of other employers that cheated contract workers of fair wages and/or subjected employees to other abuses? Will the CNMI DOL finally realize that they must have funds available if such cases arise in the future? Have they learned anything from this or will this situation continue to arise from time to time as it has for decades? Will the law be changed to include a time limit so proper respect is paid to the former worker and his/her family members? We will probably never have these questions answered. DOL finds it difficult to respond to inquiries.

Alien Registration Ends
Midnight marked the end of the alien registration at the Federal Ombudsman Office. An estimated 19,000 foreigners registered. The registration process lasted for 16 days beginning on December 14th. Leaders of various guest worker groups assisted with the registration on Saipan, Tinian and Rota. Employers also assisted by submitting the registration forms for their employees. The flexibility of the ombudsman's office in accommodating the aliens helped to ensure the smooth process.

Class Action Retirement Lawsuit
The plaintiff's filed an Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss in the lawsuit against Governor Fitial in the Retirement lawsuit.

The document states:
The CNMI government, while obligated by CNMI and Federal law to subsidize
the NMI Retirement Fund, has opted instead to brazenly ignore and violate that law, and by so doing to knowingly effect a role reversal by which the Fund has instead subsidized the CNMI government to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars...
Recognizing that the current CNMI governor has appointed all current Board
members, who in turn authorize the hiring and retention of Board and Fund personnel including attorneys, there is little surprise but considerable disenchantment when these public officials under feigned guise of arms’-length dealing, effect collusive decisions and policies, while engaging in business and operational activities evincing little if any objective regard for fiduciary obligations generally, or the imperilled well being of the Fund assets and beneficiaries specifically.
The motion argues that: standing capacity and jurisdiction are adequate; the fund may be sued; equitable redress is available and necessary; the plaintiffs may sue and proceed anonymously, the plaintiff can seek injunctive relief, the conspiracy claims are legally sound, the plaintiff's injuries are sufficiently alleged, supplemental jurisdiction is warranted and essential, and taxpayers have the right to sue the CNMI government.


The Saipan Blogger said...

However charitable it may seem, the CNMI government should not be using taxpayer money to send Mr. Flores home. The employer should be paying for this, not me. And not you. I don't know the exact cost of the flight home for the body, but whatever it was, Mrs. Sablan just got a very substantial tax credit in that amount.

Anonymous said...

I agreed with the Saipan Blogger...why would the "taxpayers" be burden with it? As again, not to sound very insensitive in behalf of the family, but the law should be implemented. Employer should pay for it, that's a "contract" that they are bound to do.

captain said...

My understanding is that this money comes from the "repatriation" fund.
I believe this is the fund that $25 is given to from every worker's contract fees.
Also it will be a over $4K and it will also include the funeral service in the Phil.

I am assuming that the Morgue fees at the CHC are being waived, as for this many months it would be much.

It was my understanding that the OFW office has funds to handle the funeral in the Phil. and also to pay survivor benefits to the family.(around 10K peso, little over $200 US)
My people however tell me that is very difficult to collect from the OFW Org. for any benefits even though they pay fees for this and other "insurance"

And why was not this former employer not taken to court by the widow or other family member.
Could not the Phil. counsel take this "employer" to court on behalf of the family?

I also wonder how much wages is owed to this deceased?

How was this woman allowed to have a contract without a bond. (stupid question looking at the last name)

Now what will the ramification's be for this former employer, what action (if any) will this corrupt Govt. or DOL take.

I wonder also how much salary this woman make at the Medicaid office that she can qualify to hire a worker (or need one)
How many other workers does she employ? A house worker also?

Anonymous said...

There is a phrase among the contract workers.. Try not to work for a chamorro family...they will work you to death.

Anonymous said...

Why is nothing done?

Check out the manpower levels at the OAG. They don't pay enough to get most lawyers to work there.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 11:59

I know some Chamorro families who treated their foreign workers as family members.

Anonymous said...

Likewise, there are many mainland Americans, who come from a culture where they are unacquainted with the employment of domestic workers, who treat their help attrociously inhumanely.

One Assistant AG on Capital Hill in the early to mid 1990s comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

To Angelo (Saipan Blogger),

I like your train of thought. Along the same lines [sarcasm begins] I hearby call for a stoppage to all public programs that I do not personally avail of. Let us start with Public Schools. I have no kids and I went through private schools in the past. No longer should we, tax payers, be straddled with educating other poor peoples' kids. Right?[sarcasm ends]


You really need to think before you open up your mouth or type.