THE CNMI'S only state veterinarian who is also a retiree is willing to work for the government again.
But Dr. Ignacio Dela Cruz, who is also a former Department of Lands and Natural Resources secretary, is still waiting for a certification from the NMI Settlement Fund, which pays pension benefits to members of the NMI Retirement Fund like Dela Cruz.
He started working again for the CNMI government on April 16, 2021 as state veterinarian after the Office of Personnel Management issued a notice of personnel action.
In his letter to NMI Settlement Fund Administrator Lilian Pangelinan last week, Dela Cruz said his job contract makes him "confident and reassured that my employment was legally in order."
But he said since the beginning of his employment, he has been requesting a copy of the exemption letter from the governor that allows Dela Cruz to work for DLNR as a contract employee.
Dela Cruz said his retirement benefits have been suspended, "although I strongly believe that as medical doctor (veterinarian) I am fully entitled to double-dipping benefits and privileges as provided by current CNMI law."
What he would like to know, Dela Cruz said, "is whether there is concurrence [on the part of the] NMI Settlement Fund regarding my employment as CNMI state veterinarian, and if not, whether I should immediately stop working as such and to have my retirement pensions reinstated at once."
Dela Cruz's current contract with the CNMI government states: "Whereof, the parties enter into this contract for employment, which shall become effective only upon certification of contract completion by the director of personnel."
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, in a separate letter to NMI Settlement Fund Trustee Joyce C.H. Tang, said Dela Cruz should be exempted from the anti “double-dipping" provision of the law.
The governor said the position of state veterinarian is important, and Dela Cruz is the only veterinarian currently in the CNMI.