November 18, 2014
In fact, one of the CNMI administrations that has inflicted the most damage to the CNMI nonresident workers has to have been the Fitial-Inos one. The list of their anti-foreign worker actions is a long one. I never trusted Fitial or Inos to do right by the nonresidents. Both men are cast from the same mold – two ambitious politicians who will stop at nothing to keep their power and can be manipulated by ethically-challenged and greedy characters. A dark shadow of corruption follows both.
Both Fitial and Inos contributed to the exploitation and suffering of many nonresident workers, while employed as executives for L and T and while serving as leaders of the CNMI.
Disgraced ex-governor Fitial was set to be tried on nine corruption charges when Associate Judge David Wiseman dismissed the criminal charges against the notorious politician. The judge ruled that the Public Auditor did not have the authority to prosecute the case. Public Auditor Hasseback has asked Wiseman to reconsider his ruling.
It will be interesting to see how the judge rules or whether the newly elected CNMI Attorney General will file new charges against Fitial. If and when Fitial is tried, he may reveal what role, if any, Inos played in his alleged criminal acts. The obvious role is accessory and enabler to a host of schemes.
Fitial's long time side kick, Eloy Inos is seeking re-election despite having some serious health issues, including diabetes, weekly kidney dialysis treatments, a recent heart procedure in the Philippines, and being hospitalized last week reportedly for the flu. Many question whether he is well enough to serve as the CNMI's top leader.
The duo began their partnership in Willy Tan's infamous L and T where both Fitial and Inos were executives. There is something extremely ugly about immigrants like Tan treating other potential immigrants and foreigners as less than human, as labor units rather than as future citizens. Ugly also was the attitude of the executives towards the foreign workers.
In 2009 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission settled four discrimination lawsuits against L and T companies. The EEOC press release stated, " L and T Group of Companies, Ltd., the largest employer and conglomerate of garment manufacturers in Saipan, has agreed to pay $1.7 million and to provide far reaching and significant injunctive relief to settle a series of lawsuits filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that charged the company with retaliation and discrimination based on national origin, pregnancy and age, all in violation of federal law."
Eloy Inos served as a Tan executive from 1996 to 2006. He was vice-president of International Trade and government relations from 1996 to 2004, and vice-president for business development from 2004 to 2006. He was called on to testify about the exploitation and discrimination for the EEOC case. His statement indicates he knew about the problems, but referred them to others.
In 2010 Acting Governor Eloy Inos commuted the sentence of prisoner
The Marianas Variety reported:
The prosecution said the signatures of six taxpayers were forged by Arriola to pay the tax obligations of six other taxpayers who paid their taxes in cash.
Arriola received a total of $383.27, but her scheme involved 12 individual accounts, and victimized six taxpayers, the prosecution stated.
Superior Court Associate Judge Ramona Manglona said Arriola’s conduct “undermined the trust placed in the commonwealth government by its taxpaying citizens and residents. Collection of tax money is the foundation of the commonwealth government’s livelihood. Her conduct causes a serious strain on the social contract between the…government and the governed. The government must hold its employees to the highest standards, a breach of that trust must be punished.”Inos cited “humanitarian reasons” in commuting Arriola’s sentence.Inos said Arriola “received support in her request for leniency from Speaker Froilan C. Tenorio, and Rep. Rafael S. Demapan…and other members of the community.”Arriola, Inos said, is the primary caretaker of her ailing mother and disabled brother for several years.She is also single mother with a 12-year-old minor son in need of nurturing and guidance, Inos added.“Velma, being a female, is culturally most acceptable and natural to provide the necessary care and assistance that her mother needs,” Inos stated.“Velma is most familiar, knowledgeable and understood the needs and manner of care-giving that her ailing mother and disabled brother deserve.”Inos said Arriola “has expressed remorse and regret for her actions.”All the victims have been reimbursed, he added, citing the information he received from the Department of Finance.“The ends of justice are served by granting [her] an opportunity to continue the path to a successful, law-abiding life,” Inos stated in his order.
In 1996 Jack Abramoff hosted Saipan garment magnate Willie Tan, his company executive, Benigno Fitial (former speaker of the CNMI House, former disgraced governor), and another Tan executive, Eloy Inos (former Secretary of Finance, Fitial's former lieutenant governor and present governor who is seeking re-election) at the 1996 Republican Convention held in San Diego, California.
8/10/96 PP [Patrick Pizella] 2.70 Dinner meeting with W. Tan, E. Inos and B. Fitial re: CNMI issues—minimum wage , immigration and upcoming congressional elections and CNMI legislation; discussion re: upcoming trips of journalists and think tank representatives to CNMI and visits to Tan Holdings factory.
8/11/96 PP [Patrick Pizella] 4:30 Participate in event sponsored by Sen. Santorum's “FIGHT PAC” with W. Tan, E. Inos, B. Fitial and Senator Jim Jeffords (R-VT); follow-up luncheon/discussion with staff director of Senate Energy committee- G. Renkes; introduction of B. Fitial to Cong. Dan Burton (R-IN).
8/13/96 JA [Jack Abramoff] 4.00 Meetings at the Republican National Convention regarding Congressional Conservative Movement and Republican Party support for CNMI
8/13/96 JB [ Jonathan Blank ] 8:00 Meet with Saipan officials.
8/14/96 JA [Jack Abramoff] 4.00 Meetings at the Republican National Convention regarding Congressional Conservative Movement and Republican party support for CNMI
8/14/96 JA [Jack Abramoff] 8:00 Meet with Saipan officials.
8/15/96 JB [ Jonathan Blank ] 8:00 Meet with Saipan officials.
In May 2002, Abramoff notified the US Senate that Rose Garden had hired him and Greenberg Traurig, his firm at the time, to represent Rose Garden's "interests before federal agencies and [the] US Congress." Abramoff recorded Rose Garden's address as a luxury flat in Tai Hang, above Causeway Bay, and its business as international trade.Over the next year and a half, the records show, Rose Garden paid Greenberg Traurig US$1.4 million (HK$10.92 million) for putting its case to the Senate, House of Representatives and US Department of Labor. Hong Kong's Companies Registry has no record of Rose Garden Holdings; nor does the telephone directory.The apartment listed by Abramoff as Rose Garden's premises has been owned since 1992 by Luen Thai Shipping and Trading, according to the Land Registry. Luen Thai Holdings and its controlling shareholders, the Tan family, were leading beneficiaries of Abramoff's Washington lobbying.
When the government stepped out, the private sector stepped back in. The Saipan Garment Manufacturers Association teamed with the Saipan Chamber of Commerce and two other local business groups to form the Western Pacific Economic Council, which in turn paid Preston Gates US$2.4 million in 1999 and 2000 for lobbying.In fact, in March 1999 The Western Pacific Economic Council contracted Abramoff to lobby against CNMI federalization and a raise in the minimum wage. The lobbying firm continued the original game plan they had drafted with Governor Pedero P. Tenorio, Speaker Fitial, and garment magnate Willie Tan. Inos was employed as Tan's vice president.
The Tan-Inos relationship continues. Under the Inos Administration the Department of Public Lands is leasing 4.8 hectares with five buildings to Tan Holdings for $100 a year.
Both Fitial and Inos opposed action on the 2010 U.S. DOI Report that called for upgraded status of the nonresident workers. Their administration supported maintaining the nonresidents' status as a disenfranchised underclass rather than backing the DOI recommendation.
Will the CNMI ever elect leaders who respect the nonresidents and view them as future citizens, rather than mere labor units? There are some signs of hope. Ed Probst was elected to the House of Representatives. Some of the nonresidents' U.S. Citizen children are grown and voting in elections. Soon one may run for office and win.
Until the time when there are enough CNMI elected officials willing to take a moral stand for the islands' nonresidents, CNMI nonresidents will have to turn to the U.S. Congress and President Obama for any help to gain them long-awaited action to improve their status.