Senate republicans pass lopsided rules

Senate republicans banded to pass impeachment trial rules that 100 percent of public commentary called lopsided, unfair, and unjust. The minority – Rota Senators Paul Manglona and Terry Santos, both independents, and democrat Sen. Edith Deleon Guerrero from Saipan – voted against the rules.

Republican Sen. Justo Quitugua of Saipan was conspicuously missing from the vote on the rules, and the preceding attempted by Deleon Guerrero and Manglona to amend the rules. Those amendments also failed. Ms. Santos joined her two minority colleagues in attempting to amend the rules.

“No matter what I say, it’s already a done deal,” Mr. Manglona said of the process in the Senate, which has been led by Gov. Ralph Torres’s supporters.

Five senators voted in lock step to keep the rules as presented by the chairman of the committee that purportedly authored the 34-page document – Tinian Sen. Karl King-Nabors. They include Mr. King-Nabors, Senate President Jude Hofschneider and Sen. Francisco Cruz of Tinian, Sen. Victor Hocog of Rota, and Sen. Vinnie Sablan of Saipan. Mr. Sablan is the governor’s running mate in this year’s race for governor and lieutenant governor.

“The rules were authored by the governor himself,” Mr. Manglona accused the majority party. “We should have a fair trial. Let’s hear from the House. Let’s hear from the governor. Let’s see the evidence. We cannot put handcuffs on the House of Representatives.”

Among the rules passed is a provision that takes away the House’s ability to choose its own prosecutor. Instead, the Senate is requiring Speaker Edmund Villagomez to prosecute and cross examine Mr. Torres even though the speaker is not an attorney.

The rules also give broad powers to Mr. King-Nabors, allowing him wide latitude in the admission of evidence, the determination of a so-called and subjective meeting of a ‘constitutional threshold’ that could lead to dismissal of the articles of impeachment, and the ability to keep minority members from being heard.

“These rules afford an unfair advantage to one party,” Ms. Santos lamented. “The Senate will not be conducting a fair trial. The proposed rules are littered with bias. The scales of justice are tipped.”

“The Senate as a whole is stripped of its role as a jury,” Ms. Deleon Guerrero said.

Rep. Leila Staffler, who is the democrat candidate for lieutenant governor, addressed the Senate during the public comment period.

When I read the rules, I wont lie, I was shocked at the lengthy procedure that, at any point even prior to the actual impeachment trial proceedings, could disqualify the copious amounts of evidence that show clear and repetitive actions of felonies, corruption and neglect of duty by Governor Torres over several years. Without the evidence to back it up, the impeachment process is incomplete,” Ms. Staffler told senators.

They have hired a barrage of lawyers who are trying to build a wall of protection around this governor,” Ms. Staffler said in her remarks before the Senate. “Protection from who?  The people want to know.  Doing what is right is never easy, but it is always the right thing to do. Senators, we ask you to do what is right for the people.  Be fair.  These rules, they are not fair.  They skew in favor of this impeached governor.  Senators, we ask you. To do what is right for the people.  Be fair.”

Mr. Hofschneider took exception to the public criticism of Senate republicans right before the votes on the amendments and the rules themselves.

“We’re already being condemned without going through the hearing process,” the senate president said. “For some of us, I would say, I respectfully disagree with some of the criticism out there.”



  • The majority rules in any political arena world wide and the CNMI governor will walk away “scotch free”. Blood is thicker than water in the CNMI and it is a done deal. But the governor will not make the run off election this year and some prayers will be fulfill.

  • Albert Sablan Palacios

      03/05/2022 at 9:02 AM

    The ties look nice, the smirk spells $$$ self interest and cover ups!!!! It feels good that we know what they are up to and what they are trying to accomplish!!!

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