Celina: The leader who makes Ralph Torres quiver in fear

This is the fifth of a five-part series, where Kandit brings to you biographical information on five democrats rumored to be contenders for the party’s nomination for governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. According to Democratic Party of the NMI chairwoman Nola Hix, as of the evening of Saturday, October 23, three qualified voters of the CNMI have submitted letters of intent to seek the party’s nomination for governor. Ms. Hix said November 1, 2021 is the deadline for interested candidates to submit their letters of interest to her in order to be considered to be the party’s nominee for governor in next year’s election. The party will announce its nominee by November 4.

Of all the rumored democratic candidates for CNMI governor, Rep. Celina “Subpoena” Roberto Babauta has the most extensive experience in the governor’s office itself. If she successfully seeks the office of governor, Ms. Babauta’s 15 years of experience working for four different governors between 1991 and 2006 can assure voters she will need no on-the-job training.

This real-world experience has benefitted the lovers of justice and truth throughout the Commonwealth as she has led the CNMI House Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee in its investigation into allegations of  corruption by Gov. Ralph Torres. Ms. Babauta, a freshman lawmaker elected overwhelmingly by Precinct 1 voters, has led the investigation with steely competence and a determination that has brought the governor and his administration to its knees.

In the advent of the hearings, Mr. Torres quipped, “I have nothing to hide,” and arrogantly baited the committee, saying he can’t wait for his opportunity to tell the truth. One by one, witnesses to his corrupt acts began answering questions, and by the third witness, tactics coordinated by the administration began to be employed to prevent progress in the investigation.

The hearings have captivated the Commonwealth. With all eyes on Ms. Babauta’s stewardship of this historic process, she has more than displayed the gravitas needed for the legislature’s meager legal team to go head-to-head with the governor’s high-powered Washington, D.C. attorneys. In fact, Ms. Babauta – who has degrees in criminology and criminal justice and management – has gone toe-to-toe with the Washington powerhouses, and has not once flinched at the games being played. Her focus in this investigation has been the focus all her career: justice.

Before becoming Subpoena Celina, a nickname given her by her fans in light of the subpoenas she has issued for witnesses to testify before her hearings, Ms. Babauta has led a career and civic life in the private, public, and non-profit sectors of both Saipan and Guam. She worked in banking on both islands prior to her tenure as executive assistant to four governors. As the wife of retired Lieutenant Colonel Franklin Reyes Babauta, who was a member of the House as well, she has been an advocate for decades for both active duty servicemen and women, and for veterans.

On a personal note, I am proud to call Ms. Babauta my friend. It is my fervent belief that when all is said and done, history will remember her as having made one of the largest contributions to the forward movement of the people of the Commonwealth… a movement away from corruption and injustice… a movement toward the Light.

Ms. Babauta and her husband have four children, SPC William, CPT Francine, Kolina and SPC Franklin, Jr.

She is the daughter of Maria Borja Roberto and Andres Ada Roberto (both dec).  She was born and raised in Saipan, CNMI and is a native of Chalan Kanoa Village, Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

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