March 6, 2012
I know that the American public would be outraged if they knew about this project. I am. Are the people of the CNMI outraged? If not, why not? Why aren't they questioning why they are drowning in all of the problems created by the lack of leadership of their elected officials who are to be honored by a memorial?
The memorial will reportedly contain the names of "leaders" from Saipan during various periods throughout the history of the commonwealth.
It seems that this a memorial to honor any person who is nominated by filling out a simple form. It looks like everyone or anyone can be considered as a "leader" in the CNMI. It was announced last week that so far 359 names of "leaders from post-war, pre-commonwealth and present eras will be engraved in the Saipan Leadership Memorial Courtyard." Seriously, the tiny island of Saipan has that many true "leaders" that are to be memorialized?
More incredible is the fact that some "leaders" to be recognized may be as well-known for violating the law as they are for any contributions as "leaders". The list of leaders includes Felix R. Nogis arrested for littering at the American Memorial Park and Tomas B. Aldan, convicted in a scheme to defraud approximately $6.6 million from the Bank of Saipan. The list includes former lieutenant governor and convicted felon Timothy P. Villagomez; Rep. Raymond D. Palacios who was convicted of drug trafficking; Oscar Rasa, accused of scamming a businessman in 2005 and a Nepalese worker in 2009; and Ignacio DLG Demapan convicted of taking an endangered species.
Only in the CNMI would convicted criminals have their names etched in a leadership memorial. Is this not insulting to any of the true CNMI leaders?
One of the people credited with "conceptualizing the project" is Felipe Atalig who was charged with misconduct in public office, disturbing the peace and assault and battery based on a sexual harassment complaint filed by a CRM employee. His name too is scheduled to be etched alongside some other felon "leaders".
Perhaps some of the victims will scratch out the names of the criminals. Or maybe the whole monument will be razed just like the monument of another leader, Saddam Hussein. More likely the memorial will eventually look like the La Fiesta Mall or one of the island's abandoned garment factories. What a disgusting waste of money that could have been used to help pay for electricity for the schools, or supplies for the hospital.