Manglona walks out of Senate session

SENATOR Paul A. Manglona walked out of the Senate session on Thursday after opposing a measure that did not include funding for Rota.

House Bill 20-102 would appropriate $13 million for Tinian and Saipan for the payment of the retroactive salaries of their government employees.

It was amended by the Senate to include Manglona’s recommendation to appropriate $500,000 for Rota’s tourism enhancement program.

Paul A. Manglona

But the House rejected the Senate amendments so a bicameral conference committee was created to draft a version of the bill acceptable to both chambers.

The House conferees were Reps. Joseph Deleon Guerrero, John Paul Sablan and BJ Attao while the Senate conferees were Justo Quitugua, Jude Hofschneider and Steve Mesngon.

They agreed to delete the Senate amendments including the $500,000 for Rota’s tourism enhancement program.

During Thursday’s session, Manglona expressed his disappointment with the conference committee’s decision.

He said Rota is not asking a lot, adding that the island has suffered so much due to lack of economic opportunity. The $500,000 for tourism enhance would have helped Rota, he said. He then left the Senate chamber.

Sen. Teresita Santos and Senate Vice President Steve Mesngon, who are also from Rota, asked that Senate action on the conference committee report be deferred to give the Rota delegation a chance to discuss it.

Mesngon said he agreed to sign the conference committee report because he was assured that Rota would get “something in the next funding measure.”

Quitugua said during the conference committee meeting, it was pointed out that Rota was already getting funds from Marianas Visitors Authority for the island’s tourism enhancement program.

But Quitugua said Rota will get additional allotments as soon as the next funding source becomes available.

The conference committee report was then adopted by a vote of 5 to 2 with Santos and Mesngon voting no.

Manglona, in an interview with Variety, said a conference committee report cannot be amended. “So it’s either we accept  or reject it. I was assured by Sen. Jude (Hofschneider ) that he will defend the Senate amendments or the funding for Rota that’s why I was expecting that Rota would still get something, but it turned out Rota was not getting anything and was excluded, as usual. In every funding measure, Rota is always left behind. $13 million is a lot of money. Is it too much to ask for a portion of it? We are only asking for $500,000. They appropriated $13 million but not a single penny for Rota. That’s very unfair.”

Manglona said he will ask Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres to veto the bill.

Sen. Frank Cruz, for his part, said it is not Tinian’s fault that the conference committee came up with an agreement that did not include funding for Rota.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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