Report Response: Governor Fitial's Facebook Page Reveals His Position

May 2, 2010

Haidee V. Eugenio from the Saipan Tribune wrote a comprehensive article detailing conflicting view on the Report from the DOI that was released last Friday.

Many of the comments reflect ignorance about the process or frustration of elected officials who, in this instance and many others, waited to react instead of being proactive. Everyone who had even the slightest knowledge of the CNRA should have known since May 2008 when the bill was signed that the DOI report was due out by May 10, 2010. Still some claim that they were "left out of the process." Did they forget the hearings, the forums, the visits by the Codel? Do they not know how to pen a letter or contact those who were charged with writing the report?

Certainly Governor Fitial cannot claim that he was left out of the process. He even asked for an extension on the reporting date in his May 2009 testimony. Yet his press secretary, Angel Demapan, told the Tribune, "Why were we not given a chance to comment on the report and recommendation before they gave it to Congress?” Is he serious!? You can't send a comment? Many of us sent letters, petitions, email pleas and even went to Washington to meet with officials. The governor met with DOI officials when he was in Washington, DC in March. He didn't discuss this with them? I find that incredible.

It was reported that "key officials" will meet today to come up with a comment and recommendation. Covenant Party member Vice Speaker Felicidad Ogumoro, who attended the meeting with DOI Assistant Secretary Babauta last Friday, said that she plans to introduce a resolution opposing the Interior recommendation.

Governor Fitial's Opinion
Governor Fitial did not attend the meeting with Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta last Friday. The Saipan Tribune reported:
Fitial was not feeling well on Friday, so he was not able to personally receive a copy of the Interior report.
The Marianas Variety reported last week:
Governor Benigno R. Fitial failed to attend the meeting due to family matters.
Yet, in a comment on a previous post on Unheard No More! an attorney stated:
One last note--the report was given to Lieutenant Governor Eloy Inos because Governor Fitial was off-island. He was indeed--I saw him on Managaha, where he went for an afternoon of relaxation.
I guess the governor went to Managaha to relax with a family member to avoid receiving the report that may have made him ill.

Although the governor has failed to issue a statement on the report, I received an email containing a message that was taken from Governor Fitial's Facebook page. It shows where he stands:
Ben Fitial May 2 at 7:25am
This is very serious. Kilili should be voted out of office.
He is introducing legislation to implement the recommendation
of the Interior Department to bestow US citizenship upon the
15,000-plus foreigners who are presently working in the CNMI.
If Kilili's bill is approved by US Congress these foreigners
Will takeover control of the local government and the local
indigenous Chamorros and Carolinians will become minority in
their own islands.

I need you to help me fight Kilili and the Interior to help
prevent Congress from approving Kilili's bill from becoming
law. Please spread this message to all your friends and relatives.

Thank you and God bless!

Governor Fitial
I cannot confirm this. I don't have Facebook, but the source is reliable.

"The indigenous Chamorros and Carolinians will become minority in their own islands." What a statement coming from the governor who claimed authorship of the original labor law that brought in tens of thousands of foreign contract workers. Can you get any more hypocritical? I guess bringing in workers is good when you are the vice-president of the largest garment firm and everyone is profiting and stuffing their pockets with the money that flowed from the sweat of the indentured servants, but is bad if these workers are finally released from their chains and allowed to have social and political rights.

Just a few months ago the governor publicly stated that if the DOI recommended green cards for the workers, he would not oppose the decision. Previously, he worked to have the grandfathering provision removed from the original legislation and filed a lawsuit to try to maintain local control over the foreign workers. If he has a position I would say it is anti-worker. Any statement he made in support of the guest workers during his campaign was probably to get the vote of those who were foreign-born.

Does the governor know that Kilili introduced the legislation in question last year and not in response to this report? I would be far more concerned about those members of Congress who have followed this issue for decades and are ready to close the door on the controversy that has given the U.S. a black eye for decades. I would be more worried about those members of Congress who have spoken on the floor of the House and Senate to denounce labor abuses and support reform; those who have called for and testified in hearings since the mid-1990's; or those who hate the fact that the CNMI hired felon Jack Abramoff to block reform and allow abuses and the broken local system to continue.

Other Voices
Juan T. Guerrero a former gubernatorial candidate and business man was quoted as saying:
Businessman Juan T. Guerrero said the report and recommendation will help stop the confusion on the status of alien workers in the CNMI.

Guerrero, a former gubernatorial candidate and former president of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, said “it will be more productive if the governor works with the federal government and not work against it, and to maximize the full potential of the partnership not only for alien workers but also for the local workers and the CNMI economy.”

“It doesn't matter whether we agree or disagree. It doesn't matter anymore because this is now a federal matter. We have to move on. This has been in discussion for a long time, let's move on and live with it,” he said.
Impressive and wise advice.

Greg Cruz, president of the TaoTao Tano said that "the group has no problems with anyone wanting citizenship or any type of status so long as the administrative process through the appropriate channels is followed. " How can you get status any other way? I don't understand that statement. Cruz also questioned the intentions of the federal agencies and CNMI's delegate.

I will summarize the intention as succinctly as possible. In 2000 the U.S. Senate passed unanimously a bill that would institute reform and grant status to the long term foreign workers of the CNMI. The CNMI government hired felon Jack Abramoff to successfully block that bill and justice was delayed until May 8, 2008 when the CNRA was passed. However, because of lobbying by the CNMI government and CNMI and Guam indigenous groups, the grandfathering provision was removed from the CNRA. Finally, the bill was revised to include the provision that allowed the DOI to issue a report with a recommendation to Congress concerning the status of foreign workers. The original intent in 2000 is the exact intent that was stated in the report:
"Consistent with the goals of comprehensive immigration reform, we recommend that the Congress consider permitting alien workers who have lawfully resided in the CNMI for a minimum period of five years to apply for long-term status under the immigration and nationality laws of the United States."
Henry Torres (sorry, don't know who this person is) was quoted by the Tribune as being confused about the CNRA's provision that workers leave by 2013 and the status recommendation. He also "blames the local government for not enforcing its labor and immigration law, and for allowing the federal government to enforce its laws."

Foreign Workers' Reactions
Rabby Syed supports U.S. citizenship or green cards. He said we must distinguish between illegal aliens in the mainland and the legal foreign contract workers in the CNMI.

Ramon Awit, an advisor for the United Filipino Association said that the "CNMI government should respect the decision of the federal government."

The Saipan Tribune quoted other foreign workers:
Lito Espino, a Filipino contract worker, called on the CNMI government not to block any longer a proposal to improve the immigration status of foreign workers.

“This will put a stop to confusion in the community about the status of nonresident. Isn't that what the CNMI government also wants? Stop the confusion? Respect the report and recommendation,” he said.

Tibu Perdasa, a jeweler from Sri Lanka, said Interior's recommendation is “good news” and hopes that the U.S. Congress will confer U.S. citizenship to legal alien workers in the CNMI.

Guo Jun Miao, who has a long-term business permit, said with improved status for legal alien workers, the CNMI economy will improve. He said more will invest in the CNMI, including leasing lands for homes instead of forever renting apartments or putting up businesses.

“CNMI people may not like it but the federal government is now in control of immigration. They should not stop the federal government on what it wants to do because it's good for everyone here,” said the businessman from China.
We need to organize now to ensure the swift passage of legislation that will grant U.S. citizenship to the long-term foreign workers. This question has been debated, studied, analyzed and tossed about for decades. The time to take action is long overdue.


Anonymous said...

It is up to the U.S. Congress, whether a Bill would move fast, slow or not move at all. Let us heal this land with love and prayers no matter what happens! We can work hand in hand, heart in heart with each other and we can start it now. Time will come that the new generations of Chamorro, Carolinian, Filipino, Bangladesh, Korean, Japanese, Thailander, Chinese etc etc will do it in the very near future. WHY NOT BEGIN IT NOW so that we can experience lives that are worth sharing with one another.

Anonymous said...

very well said. thanks!

Captain said...

Well now, hopefully by he next Gov. election there may be at least 15K more voters to get rid of all of this "Virus" from the present to the past recycled clowns looking to only line their own pockets.
I will repeat it again, as have many times, look at what happened to Fiji after so many years with their "imported" contract workers that they gave citizenship to.
In the 80's they had enough voter to push out the "local" administration and vote in an Indian Govt majority. (Till today)
"Payback is hell"
But on the other hand, with US Citizenship or "Green Cards", most workers will leave these Islands to Guam and point east.
So maybe there will not be enough "voter" to get rid of this "trash" in the Govt.
We shall see. This will be interesting, and another chapter in the "corrupted" history of the NMI "connected"

The Saipan Blogger said...

Uh, that's not Ben Fitial's Facebook. That's Ray Austin's. I don't think Fitial has a Facebook page. I think all the pages out there are somebody posing as me.

Anonymous said...

Yes, he has a facebook page Angelo. Look it up.

The Saipan Blogger said...

Oops. Not posing as me; it should read, "posing as him."

There are two profiles on Facebook for Ben Fitial. I don't think either one is really him.

Anonymous said...

Angelo, you are Ben Fitial's friend on his facebook page. So is his wife. It's him.

Anonymous said...

Angelo, you are Ben Fitial's friend on his facebook page. So is his wife. It's him.

Captain said...

Fitial does not have the education to be able to use a computer. Let alone be able to spell "Foreigner" or other words. (like most of the elected and Political appointees)

Anonymous said...

Most politicians, entertainers, and business leaders have someone to handle their mundane chores such as Facebook for them.

Some with more time on their hands, or who are really into it, do it themselves.

What else is new?

Anonymous said...

Have you considered the possibility that if CW's are granted outright U.S. Citizenship, even if they leave the CNMI, they might be given voter eligibility. If this so, we could still lose the indigenous run government as there is still absentee ballots and CW's granted Citizenship would of course have to be CNMI residents for over 5 years. Maybe we should ask for Native American Indian Status and make each of the CNMI Islands Reservations.

Anonymous said...

Too late for that. The Covenant does not make the CNMI an indigenous reservation.