CNMI governor defends $59K trip to Pagan

CNMI Governor Ralph Torres
CNMI Governor Ralph DLG Torres says the trip provided a rare opportunity to market the CNMI. (Still image from the CNMI Governor's special address)

After CNMI Governor Ralph Torres came under fire over the timing and cost of his trip to the northern islands for the YouTube show “Deer Meat for Dinner,” the governor defended his decision during a press conference yesterday.

Torres’ trip was scrutinized by the CNMI Legislature last week during the budget hearing for the Marianas Visitors Bureau. CNMI Rep Tina Sablan, in particular, questioned the $59,000 allocation for the trip at a time when the bureau is reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Torres says the trip provided a rare opportunity to market the CNMI.

“You know ..the whole purpose of the trip is to market the whole Marianas and we had this rare opportunity and privilege to have Robert Arrington and his family to come together to promote the Marianas,” the governor said.

Torres also defended the introduction of captive deer to Pagan — which is illegal under CNMI law — saying it was his decision to do so. He also claimed that the permit to release the deer was not under the name of Robert Arrington, the Deer Meat for Dinner host.

“I initiated that … So the release of the deer…it was under my request,” Torres said.

“Deer Meat for Dinner” features host Robert Arrington hunting, fishing, diving, and cooking wild game.