The following is the transcription of Rep. Donald Manglona’s remarks December 14, 2021, immediately preceding a unanimous vote by the CNMI House Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee to hold Gov Ralph Torres in contempt:
The past several months has been a challenging experience in the efforts to get answers and clarifications to complaints of corruption, abuse of power and flagrant spending of the Governor of the CNMI. We spent hours reviewing evidence and interviewing witnesses, to address these serious concerns because it is the responsibility of each one of us, including the legislature, to uphold the checks and balance of which are an integral part of democracy.
Not one individual or government shall be supreme and immune to consequences for actions that violate any laws. The actions of this body are not driven by these accusations of political gains. The actions of this body derive from sincere concerns over the well-being and dignity of this commonwealth.
And while we are coming to a close, putting these issues brought to the committee to rest, the one person under the subject of investigation is the only one who can explain these allegations. We’ve heard from witnesses who have shed light on the actions taken by the Governor. While our people were getting their utilities disconnected for a $20 past due balance, the Governor was living lavishly in excess of $10,000 a month. While our friends and family were getting furloughed, the Governor has taken several trips in business class wherein the cost for one of these trips alone can pay for someone’s salary. How can we turn a blind eye on these excessive abuse of government resources that are meant to support our people? It is our duty as elected officials and not just as member of the JGO committee to address these concerns from our constituents.
Finally, we asked the Governor to come before this committee to give us the truth. But, where is he? He continues to hide, deflect and cause delays to distract the people instead of answering questions that would provide clarity or reveal a concern that needs to be addressed. If he truly has nothing to hide then why is it difficult for him to stand before this body and before the people of this great commonwealth to clear his name? In closing, I want to thank this body and those who worked tirelessly in this effort to fight corruption. I also want to thank our people who have stepped forward, shared their concerns and provided their testimony. It is important that we hold our government to such high standards and hold anyone who attempts to lower these standards by abusing power, accountable.