SAIPAN - Retirees feel that they are being betrayed by the CNMI government, Sen. Paul A. Manglona and House Minority Leader Edwin Propst said.

In an interview on Thursday, Manglona said several retirees asked him to air their sentiments about the possible suspension of their 25% benefit payments in light of an anticipated revenue shortfall.

The retirees, who did not want their names to be published, told Manglona that they supported casino legalization on Saipan because it would save their pension.

They said they already felt “betrayed” when Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed Public Law 20-10 in September 2017. Authored by then-Rep. Angel Demapan, the measure removed the retirees’ 25% from the list of the recipients of the $15 million annual casino license fee.

House Minority Leader Edwin Propst said: “To the retirees, you know what is really sad? The fact that the 25% cut is being considered. Why? Because the $15 million annual license fee [Imperial Pacific International] paid was originally used to pay the 25% benefit payments that weren’t required by the Settlement Agreement, so that you would receive 100% of your pension.”

Administration Press Secretary Kevin Bautista responded, saying "it’s unfortunate that the congressman and the senator choose divisive politics during this vulnerable time." 

“Shame on the senator and the congressman for politicizing our commonwealth’s unanticipated economic circumstances at a time when we need to come together to promote the Marianas to our other source markets Korea and Japan and produce revenue-generating measures," Bautista said, noting the administration, along with members of the legislature, is working on cost-containment measures, including revisiting the tax structure, and looking at work hours for government employees. 

"This is on top of seeking new investments and revenue generation. Options are being considered. Financial cost impacts are being finalized in order to ensure the most accurate numbers. An announcement of our latest estimates will be made on Friday."