DESPITE “overwhelming support” from friends and family, Marianne Conception Teregeyo admitted that she was worried and hesitant at first to accept the position offered to her by Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres — secretary of the Department of Public Lands.
The post, she said, is a lightning rod for criticism.
In her testimony before the Senate Committee on Executive Appointments and Government Investigations on Friday during the public hearing on her nomination, she said she asked the governor for some time to think it over.
Teregeyo said she did not accept the offer immediately because she wanted to find out herself if she could handle the magnitude of the tasks that would be given to her as head of a key department.
She said previous DPL secretaries had been criticized for varying reasons and placed under the microscopic lens of the community more than any other department head.
As Department of Lands and Natural Resources secretaries and colleagues could attest, she said, “I work hard and am very passionate about helping our island. In accepting this nomination, I vowed to the administration and to you that I will always perform my job, to do my best and do due diligence.”
Teregeyo said she has been with DPL for 10 days since her appointment, adding that she has already started identifying some of the weaknesses and strengths of the department.
“I believe in transparency, accountability, efficiency, progress and diligence and you can expect that I will reemphasize such within the department,” she told the senators.
As for CNMI homestead applicants, she said there are around 3,178 on Saipan; 180 on Tinian; 208 on Rota; and six in the Northern Islands.
She said there are 618 agricultural homestead applicants on Rota and 437 on Tinian.
But DPL cannot issue homestead lots because it is unable to fund the necessary infrastructure from its operational budget, she added.
“DPL will need to work effectively with the Legislature and the Office of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget or [Capital Improvement Projects Office] to appropriate funding for infrastructure within these proposed homestead lots as well as working with [the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality] on the possibility of allowing individualized septic tank systems,” Teregeyo said.
Sen. Frank Cruz, chairman of the appointments committee, asked her to look into the pending applications for homesteads and to expedite their processing as most of them have been on the waiting list since 2009.
The Senate chamber was jam-packed with Teregeyo’s supporters during Friday’s public hearing.
Senator Cruz said a total of 12 persons submitted written comments in support of her nomination while more than 16 others submitted oral testimony also expressing support and these include former DPL Secretary Pete A. Tenorio, Department of Public Safety Commissioner Robert Guerrero, Gary Sword, Rep. Edwin Propst, Liana Hofschneider, former DLNR Secretary Dr. Ignacio Dela Cruz, former Attorney General Matthew Gregory, Fish and Wildlife Director Manny Pangelinan, Ramon Camacho, Patricia Seman Rasa, Velma Reyes, Northern Islands Mayor Jerome Aldan and Tina Camacho.
They highlighted Teregeyo’s educational background, knowledge and work experiences, saying that they believe she is the right person to lead the department.
In an interview, Teregeyo said she was humbled by the support and the people’s high expectations.
“I am deeply touched but I have to make sure that I live up to their expectations. The reason why I did not accept the offer immediately is because I needed to make sure that I could do it. I will do my best.”
Teregeyo has a bachelor of science degree in natural resources with a minor in fisheries conservation and two associate of arts degrees.
A former Saipan Cable TV reporter, she worked for DLNR for over 13 years.
Source: Marianas Variety