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NEWS: First lady receives illegal & separate lodging in Rota

Bodyguard illegally paid double for Rota suite

By Nancy I. Maanao

(Tumon, Guam) Ralph and Diann Torres, and one of Mr. Torres's bodyguards - Adrian Mendiola, each charged the Commonwealth for their own suites at the Rota Resort and Country Club between September 15 and 17, 2017.

According to travel voucher no. 788251 approved by then-Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog, Mr. Mendiola stayed in Suite 3604, Mr. Torres stayed in Suite 3605, and Ms. Torres stayed in Suite 3606 - a four-bedroom oceanview villa at the resort.

The Commonwealth's taxpayers paid for Ms. Torres's separate lodging. This is not legal, according to the Commonwealth's travel laws.

The payment for Mr. Mendiola's room also is an illegal use of public funds. According to the travel documents, Mr. Mendiola received a $250 per diem from taxpayers on top of taxpayers footing the $230 for his hotel stay, which means he was double paid for his Rota duties. That travel authorization - 33380 - was requested and approved by Department of Public Safety Commissioner Robert Guerrero.

The trio left Saipan for Rota the morning of September 15 aboard a DPS boat for what is described as official business - a cabinet meeting in Rota - on behalf of the people. However, in separate reimbursement documents coinciding with this date, Mr. Torres filled a DPS boat with fuel on government dime using local funds.

DPS boats fall under the Boating Safety Program, which is 100 percent federally funded. The account number under which funds were drawn was 1011-63030, a local account. The governor used $919.10 of the Commonwealth's money at Middle Road Mobil at 6:29 a.m. the morning of September 15, 2017, to fill that boat.

In a previous story on Kandit, we revealed travel reimbursement documents showing another so-called cabinet meeting to Rota, where taxpayers footed the bill for the governor and his cabinet to travel to Rota for a Republican Party rally. The governor also traveled to Rota on government dime via a boat, which sources confirmed was filled with party supplies for the political rally.

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