Editorial: Mendiola should rescind resignation. Babauta should not bring Tinian bloc back to power

Senator Dennis Mendiola of Rota resigned Monday from two CNMI Senate committees in a sort of dual protest statement to the committees’ chairwoman, and courtesy step aside for Tinian’s three republicans.

The committees – the Executive Appointments and Government Investigations and the Judiciary, Government, and Law committees – are both led by Saipan Senator Celina Babauta. The same Celina Babauta, who led the House impeachment of former Governor Ralph Torres in early 2022.

The same EAGI committee once led by Tinian Senator Francisco Cruz, who rubber stamped all of Mr. Torres’ gubernatorial appointments.

The same three republican senators from Tinian who formed the bloc that stopped a fair and reasonable impeachment trial against their buddy Ralph Torres.

So much for judiciary, government, and law.

Mr. Mendiola, in his letter of resignation, wrote, “The current composition of the committees includes three senators from Rota and yourself representing the Island of Saipan. While this arrangement is not inherently unjust, I strongly feel that the island of Tinian, as an integral part of our Commonwealth, should also have a dedicated member in these committees. By doing so, we can foster a greater sense of trust, inclusion, and fairness among the three senatorial districts, thereby strengthening the unity and cohesion of our beloved islands.”

Of course Ms. Babauta does not want those senators on her committee. Otherwise, she would have invited them.

After years shutting down righteous people, the Tinian senators now know what it feels like to not be invited to the prom.

While Senate President, Tinian Senator Jude Hofschneider put in place every impediment to the prosecution of Mr. Torres during the impeachment trial and rolled out the red carpet for his defense.

He assigned Tinian Senator Karl King Nabors to manage the process, and what resulted were arbitrary rules, among them the inability for the House to even have lawyers to help in the presentation of its case.

It was a kangaroo court, one that people throughout the region and all the way to Washington DC watched with disbelief and disgust.

Why would any reasonable chair of these committees – committees that demand members of the utmost character and commitment against corruption and for justice – allow these harbingers of corrupt politics and injustice to flourish in them?

And let’s not forget just how ‘represented’ Tinian has been since the disgraced republican era. The multimillion dollar annual budgets that, by all accounts, likely are slush funds for the Tinian delegation. The BOOST grants to the select few. An underground utilities project that is enriching a handful of landowners only.

Tinian’s senators have represented themselves and those in their favor. No one else. Had the spoils of their time in power come from a place of leadership and love for their people, the people of Tinian would not be enduring near-complete reliance on government, the same high cost of living, and its division between the haves and the have nots.

We have to wonder why this bloc wants so badly to be on these particular committees? To derail gubernatorial appointments? To thwart any future investigations into Mr. Torres and his republican cronies?

And, finally, there’s the matter of Rota. Mr. Mendiola has been a fine addition to the EAGI committee, in particular. He probed political appointees, added value to conversation, and always pushed for his island of Rota. When Mr. Mendiola abdicated his seats on the EAGI and the JGL, he also forfeited that voice for Rota. A voice so sorely needed in the halls of leadership.

Let’s not get this twisted. For those Tinian senators – and, likely behind the scenes, Ralph Torres – this is not about the camaraderie of the islands. This is not about the people of Tinian. This is about the benefit of three people in power, and what that power can do for their cronies.

I mean, come on. We’re talking about the elite who were in power when more than a billion dollars in cold hard cash was sent by the American taxpayer to the people of the Commonwealth. How much of that money did you see? What did they improve for you, your family, and your islands?

Now, do you want to see them back in power?

The issue here is not about a division among the islands, but a flailing Republican Party starved of power and craving it once more. Mr. Mendiola’s gesture is noble, but seen in the context of the bigger picture, it unfortunately paves a path back to those dark days of rampant, unrestrained cronyism.

All due respect to Mr. Mendiola, a new senator who appears to be doing good things for Rota and the Commonwealth… this is not one of them. It is our opinion he rescind his resignation and continue his good work. Don’t let those Tinian senators or Ralph Torres bully you, Senator Mendiola. You are a good and decent man.


  • Troy, don’t you think the word ‘decent’ was just thrown out the window.
    I read from one commentator that says, ‘is this act for convenience or, an act for convenience. And another guy mentioning about him running away from dealing with Jorgensen”s confirmation because of the petition and Uncle Vick. The guy is getting to be a smart politician. Hopefully, for the better.

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