Atalig to be subpoenaed; subpoenas of Ralph Torres and Wil Castro discussed

A legislative tribunal investigating the corruption of the Ralph Torres administration has voted to subpoena former finance secretary David Atalig, Jr., and may soon consider the subpoena of Mr. Torres, himself, and his former chief of staff, Wil Castro.

Eight of the nine members of the CNMI House of Representatives’ Special Committee on Federal Assistance & Disaster-related Funding were present for the committee’s first meeting since May to jumpstart the so-called corruption hearings now that the legislature has passed the fiscal year budget. And everyone appeared to be on the same page: Find the illegal activities and criminal actors, and refer them for prosecution.

“There are businesses that received BOOST, but never opened. There are people who received funding, then closed down their businesses,” Edwin Propst, committee vice chairman, lamented. “We are gonna actively look into that.”

But the federally-funded $17 million BOOST program is a drop in the bucket compared to the $1.9 billion in federal pandemic and disaster-related funding Mr. Torres “squandered” while he was governor, Mr. Propst said. “And we’re going to look at all of that. This isn’t just about BOOST. We’re going to look into all of that funding.”

Reading a privileged speech Tina Sablan made in December 2022 as the previous House’s joint investigative committee on the BOOST scandal, Mr. Propst pressed Ms. Sablan’s point that if so many clear cases of outright theft were discovered in the $17 million BOOST program, imagine what the new legislature will find by reviewing the rest of the federal funds Mr. Torres spent.

“There needs to be justice,” Marissa Flores, committee member, said. “Someone has to be prosecuted.”

Ms. Flores did not hesitate to vote in favor of the committee issuing a subpoena testificandum to Mr. Atalig, despite a close familial connection to the former finance secretary.

Vincent Aldan, also a member, said part of the problem he has seen is that people who were in power or were protecting those in power excused their corrupt behavior by proclaiming they were just helping family.

“What place in the world would call it family and do corrupt things and say it is okay?” Mr. Aldan asked, incredulous. “Are we gonna excuse certain people because they’re family? There’s no honor among thieves.”

The committee disposed of business quickly in its first day back on the job, unanimously approving the issuance of 1309 letters to the Bank of Saipan, Department of Finance, Zoning Office, Division of Revenue and Taxation, Business License Office, Department of Commerce, contractors, and anyone else at the discretion of the chairman, Ralph Yumul. “1309” refers to a section of the Commonwealth Code that gives the legislature the authority to gather evidence and information during investigations. It is a step short of a subpoena duces tecum.

The committee, however, believes Mr. Atalig’s presence and testimony are needed instantly in the interest of truth and justice. His is the first and only subpoena testificandum, or call to testify.

“Will we be able to call in Ralph Torres? Wil Castro?” Ms. Flores followed up. “These are some of the people I’d also like to see before this panel.” Mr. Yumul responded that the committee soon will be considering their subpoenas to testify.

“Many have been waiting and wanting answers,” member Diego Camacho said. “I look forward to finding resolution on these issues.”


  • It’s about time! They must also bring in Edward Deleon Guerrero (tofila) and the scum bag Jesus Taisague! And please…by all means si Wil Castro. These guys made off with most of those funds.

  • Around 1600, Shakespeare wrote of “The law’s delay and the insulance of office.”

    If the Bard wrote of insulant foot-dragging seven hundred years ago, not much has changed. Our legislature is so painfully slow, that an exhausted snail could run rings around them.

    I am forbidden to [censored] the legislature [censored], but I may just risk it. Might put a bit of life into them.

    It may also encourage them to stop acting like frightened children, grow up, do their jobs, and to drag Torres and his cronies [censored]. Excuse me, I meant justice.

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