THE question is not whether they worked overtime during CNMI’s response to Super Typhoon Yutu, but whether cabinet members should have been paid for OT, Governor Ralph DLG Torres said when asked about the complaint filed by the Attorney General’s office against the Ministry of Justice. Public Safety Commissioner Robert A. Guerrero in Superior Court for excessive overtime pay due to the typhoon.
The governor said it was his former special assistant in the Office of Management and Budget and authorized representative Virginia C. Villagomez who recommended the OT payments.
“I [had] asked, ‘Can this be done?’ The answer was yes, so we moved on. Everyone… got paid overtime,” Torres said.
Regarding the legal action against the DPS chief, Torres said: “It is not my position to say whether he is [legal] or not, but the moment we did [authorize it]I was told it was legal, and that’s why we decided to give…those who worked overtime [OT pay].”
He added: ‘So the question here was not whether they were working overtime, because they did during the disaster. The question is whether they should be eligible to receive overtime? Now [this matter is with] the court… and I will have to respect that process.
In Complaint Against DPS Chief, AG Seeks $46,892.96 Judgment for Recovery of Illegal Typhoon Bonus Payments, Overtime Payments, or Overtime Payments Not Permitted by Law Without Appropriation valid and in excess of the salary cap, including prejudice and post-judgment interest and prosecution costs.
The GA also noted that “other Commonwealth employees, including but not limited to other Governor appointees, have also received Typhoon Bonus for work performed during the October 23, 2018 to January 23, 2019, and are therefore in the same situation as the defendant”.
Guerrero declined to comment.