Opinion: This is no way to run a government

By Tina Sablan

The abrupt transfer of Customs Director Jose Mafnas to a nonexistent position in an entirely different department is political retaliation, plain for all to see. The complaint he has filed in court reveals much about the circumstances that led up to the transfer – from Mr. Mafnas’ open support for another gubernatorial candidate, to his refusal to obey Governor Torres’ “verbal instructions” to funnel a federally funded, multimillion-dollar procurement through the governor’s brother.

Mr. Mafnas is not the first and will not be the last victim of this vindictive and childish administration. But he is one of the few to publicly challenge the Torres regime, and he deserves praise and support for courageously asserting his rights as a civil service employee and as a citizen. I encourage every public servant who is a victim of political retaliation to do the same.

Sadly, there have been numerous examples of political retaliation and intimidation in this administration over the years, and numerous examples of violations of the due process rights of civil service employees. Remember the mass furloughs? The illegal replacements of long-time civil servants with political hires? The sacking of the OMB Director, and the pink slips handed out to government employees seen at non-GOP events or merely associated with non-GOP supporters? The retaliatory transfers of law enforcement officers suspected of disloyalty to this administration? This is no way to run a government.

In the Marianas we know too well the costs of public corruption, political intimidation, fear, and silence. Leila Fleming Staffler and I are firmly committed to ending this toxic culture in our government. Our administration will ensure respect for the law and the rights of all public service employees. We will protect and support whistleblowers. Honest, hardworking public servants should never have to fear losing their jobs because of who they vote for, or their political beliefs. Public servants deserve better. The people of the Marianas deserve better.

Tina Sablan


Christina “Tina” Sablan is a member of the CNMI House of Representatives, and the Democratic candidate for governor in the 2022 general election along with her running mate for lieutenant governor, Leila Fleming Staffler.

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