Wednesday, 29 October 2008 00:00 By Junhan B. Todeno - Variety News Staff
TAOTAO Tano leader Greg Cruz wants the Office of the Indigenous Affairs abolished, but Press Secretary Charles P. Reyes Jr. says this can only be done through the Legislature.
“Mr. Cruz…should appeal to the Legislature for legislation to effect such a change,” Reyes said.
Cruz said the office has two staff members and no funding for any of its program.
“We believe that this office is only functioning to satisfy special interest groups, constituent’s payroll and benefits and not serving or helping our people at all,” Cruz said.
He said the office was created to coordinate the development, adoption and translation of a comprehensive history of the Marianas, and to ensure local participation in executive managerial decision-making in the government and private sector.
The office, he added, was supposed to assist and promote local entrepreneurial development, establish a community foundation for the advancement of the indigenous people, coordinate the translation and distribution of official documents such as the CNMI Constitution and the Covenant
Moreover, Cruz said, the office is supposed to plan for the establishment of an indigenous cultural center and an indigenous hall of fame, while coordinating an annual cultural festival, developing and implementing a long-range plan to assist and promote the entry of the indigenous people into professional and technical institutions of higher education, and serving as an advocate of positions taken by indigenous people on CNMI issues.
According to Reyes, “If it is a constitutional office, a constitutional amendment may be needed, in which case Mr. Cruz may circulate an initiative petition or persuade the Legislature to pass an initiative for the voters to consider.”