Official: Measure to abolish DPL unconstitutional

DEPARTMENT of Public Lands Secretary Marianne C. Teregeyo is strongly opposed to the measure that will abolish DPL, saying it is unconstitutional.

Teregeyo appeared before the House on Thursday to speak out against House Bill 19-82 which was introduced by Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro.

Starting in 1978, CNMI public lands were administered by an independent board which was abolished in 1994, re-established in 1997 and abolished again in 2006.

The House Committee on Natural Resources chaired by Rep Edwin Aldan has recommended the passage of Ogumoro’s bill which will establish a Marianas Lands Corporation run by a board.

But the House did not act on the measure Thursday.

In an interview on the same day, Teregeyo said the measure as drafted is already irrelevant as some of the issues it raised have already been addressed.

“The issue of an advisory board was already addressed. We have an advisory board right now, and it is meeting monthly to discuss various issues and land compensation,” Teregeyo said.

“As to the testimony about questionable land dealings, when I first came in, the public auditor investigated one case. Some questionable dealings may have taken place, but it’s no longer the case now — the department is now managed efficiently so abolishing it is irrelevant as of this moment.”

She said if there are some questions regarding land deals, the public is welcome to come to the DPL office, and she and her staff will be there to answer any questions.

“We are open to the public and to any inquiries or questions — we will address doubts about anything,” Teregeyo said.

Connie C. Togawa, the former head of the now defunct Marianas Public Lands Authority homestead division, on Thursday said DPL should be abolished, adding that land matters or any decisions concerning public lands should be decided by a board and not just by one person only.

Togawa lost her job in 2006 when MPLA was abolished after then-Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, citing the board’s “abuses,” signed P.L. 15-2 which also created DPL.

Source: Marianas Variety

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