February 19, 2013
May prosperity, justice and honor be restored to the CNMI. Governor Benigno R. Fitial has resigned.
(Thanks Angelo for calling me.)
In a decision that was the best for himself and for all of the people who call the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) home, Governor Benigno R. Fitial has resigned. The governor was impeached by the House last week and faced a Senate trial that was scheduled to begin on March 7th. May his resignation mark a new beginning for the CNMI that ushers in an era of reform, justice and democracy.
For decades the CNMI has suffered under corrupt leaders who have placed their own self-serving agendas before the good of the people. Political hirings and firings, threats, disregard for the law, oppression and abuse of legal nonresidents, backdoor deals, and dangerous schemes have cast dark clouds over the islands. Today, for the first time in a very long time, the sun is starting to shine through.
It is through the dedicated efforts of people of integrity and honor that reform has triumphed over corruption. People like Glen Hunter, Tina Sablan, Ed Probst, the late Ruth Tighe, and countless other individuals exposed corruption and educated the masses to demand reform. They are heroes.
I could not help but feel overwhelmed with emotion when I heard the news. I think of all of the people who have suffered at the hands of former Governor Benigno Fitial and his allies. If Mr. Fitial had been arrested or stopped when he and felon Jack Abramoff conspired to steal the speakership to ensure that federalization and justice for the foreign workers would be blocked, today there would be a different CNMI, a better CNMI.
Without the interference of Fitial, his allies and lobbyist pals, it is likely that the bipartisan CNMI reform bill, the Northern Mariana Islands Implementation Act (S 1052), that was introduced by Senator Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Senator Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) in 1999 and unanimously passed by the Senate in February 2000 would have passed the House and been signed into law. That bill contained a provision that would have granted a pathway to citizenship for the CNMI's legal aliens.
If that bill had passed, imagine all of the suffering that could have been prevented; all of the wage theft, illegal recruitment, contract violations, and other unspeakable abuses of foreign workers that would never have occurred. If that bill had passed, a skilled and stable workforce would have been in place to grow the CNMI economy. If that bill had passed, Congressman Sablan would not be struggling to push for status to protect dedicated long-term legal nonresidents from being deported to the detriment of not just the nonresidents and their families, but the whole CNMI. If that bill had passed, the nonresidents who face an uncertain future would be at peace now.
While no one cannot turn back the clock, everyone can work to ensure that the dark times like the one that have clouded the CNMI over the last few decades never return. Impeachment and resignation of the governor will not ensure reform. It will take hard work to make sure that the past mistakes are not repeated, that corruption is replaced with honest governance, that the best interests of the people are placed before the interests of elected officials.
I wish former Governor Fitial no ill will. May he learn from his mistakes and live in peace. May Governor Inos lead the CNMI to prosperity and unity and restore the reputation of the beautiful islands.
Best wishes to all of the people of the CNMI.
Listen to an interview with Advocate Glen Hunter here.