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Judge rejects ex-lawmaker’s heirship claim

SUPERIOR Court Judge Joseph N. Camacho has ruled that former Rep. Melvin O. Faisao is not an heir to the estate of Rita Rogolofoi.

Faisao cited Carolinian customary law in his claim.

On May 5, 2017, Faisao filed a claim as an heir to the estate Faisao filed a claim as an heir to the estate following reports that the estate would receive almost $3 million as land compensation from the CNMI government.

He said he is the grandson of Macaria Rogolifoi Faisao who was the biological sister of Rita Rogolifoi through the decedent’s father, Pedro Rogolifoi.

According to the former lawmaker, Pedro Rogolifoi left Dolores Faibar, Rita Rogolifoi’s mother, and began a relationship with Antonia Faibar.

Pedro Rogolifoi then fathered Macaria R. Faisao when he and Antonia Faibar moved to the Northern Islands and did not return to Saipan, Melvin Faisao said.

He said the property in the Rita Rogolifoi estate belonged to Pedro Rogolifoi and was held in trust in Rita Rogolifois’s name for Pedro Rogolifoi’s family.

Melvin Faisao said as a descendant of Macaria Rogolifoi, he is entitled to a share of the property and proceeds from the property within the estate.

In his order, Judge Camacho stated that Carolinian customary law guides the distribution of the estate because Rita Rogolifoi was Carolinian and died without a will.

The property is the Carolinian family land of Rita Rogolifoi and not Pedro Rogolifoi, the judge said.

He added that the only documented title to the property is a title determination dated Oct. 13, 1953 which gave ownership of the property to the heirs of Rita Rogolifoi.

Judge Camacho said no testimony or evidence established that Pedro Rogolifoi owned or occupied the property.

“Instead, the testimony and timelines presented prove that the land was cleared by Rita Rogolifoi with the help of her descendants in the early 1900s with the intent to lay claim to the land under the protocols set after World War II. While the land was used according to Carolinian custom and Rita Rogolifoi’s siblings and their descendants were able to freely enter the land and collect fruits, this does not necessarily show ownership rights to the land,” the judge said.

He also found that Macaria R. Faisao was not the daughter of Pedro Rogolifoi or the biological sister of Rita Rogolifoi.

The judge said Melvin Faisao’s “theory of his family history and testimony of his witnesses echoing this theory are not credible compared to the reliability and credibility of the church records made at or near the time the events occurred.”

The judge said based on church records and the information on the birth certificates of Macaria R. Faisao’s siblings Ana Faibar Rogolifoi and Carlos Faibar, Melvin Faisao’s claim that “Pedro Rogolifoi moved to the Northern Islands with Antonia Faibar and remained there with her for the rest of their lives cannot be true.”

Antonia Faibar’s two youngest children were born on Saipan and Vicente Rogolifoi was listed as their father, the judge said.

Vicente Rogolifoi was Pedro Rogolifoi’s younger brother.

The judge said Melvin Faisao’s claim fails to prove by a preponderance of evidence that Macaria R. Faisao was Pedro Rogolifoi’s biological daughter and/or Rita Rogolifoi’s biological sister.

According to the judge, the preponderance of evidence establishes that Macaria R. Faisao was the daughter of Vicente Rogolifoi, the niece of Pedro Rogolifoi and the cousin of Rita Rogolifoi.

“As the grandson of Macaria Rogolifoi Faisao, Melvin (Faisao) is therefore not an heir of Pedro or Rita Rogolifoi,” Judge Camacho said.

In addition, as Rita Rogolifoi was the original land owner, under Carolinian custom, the land passes to Rita Rogolifoi’s children and their descendants, the judge said.

Melvin Faisao is not Rita Rogolifoi’s child or a descendant of one of her children, therefore he has no right to the property in question or a share in the estate, the judge added.

Melvin Faisao was initially represented by attorney Charles P. Reyes Jr. who later withdrew as the former lawmaker’s counsel.

The administrator for the estate is Clarence “Bud” White who was represented by attorney Stephen Nutting while Joaquin Torres is counsel for the heirs of Pedro Rogolifoi, the estate of Jesus Faisao and the estate of Macaria Rogolifoi Faisao.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/103615-judge-rejects-ex-lawmaker-s-heirship-claim

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