By Nancy I. Maanao
(Tumon, Guam) Today marks the fourth anniversary of the death of the Commonwealth's beloved Governor Eloy Inos. He died while recovering from medical treatment in Seattle December 28, 2015, leaving the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in mourning.
Mr. Inos led the Commonwealth through a tumultuous era. He was called into service, becoming the Commonwealth's lieutenant governor following the demise of former Lt. Gov. Timothy Villagomez, then becoming the governor, when the man he served, Benigno Fitial, resigned in 2013.
Aside from the political upheaval of the time, the economy and the government's finances had tanked, and the pension fund was in trouble. Under Mr. Inos's leadership, the Commonwealth weathered these crises and started the era of economic expansion that produced yearly unprecedented GDP growth until 2018. Unlike any person who had occupied the governor's seat prior to him, he faced these challenges in a job he never applied for.
But in 2014 he did throw his hat in the ring; Mr. Inos won the election for governor that year with his runningmate, Ralph Torres.
The following year Soudelor ravished the NMI and nearly destroyed public infrastructure and displaced thousands. As the recovery was happening, the senior statesman's health declined. He went off island for surgery and died December 28 four years ago.
Mr. Inos was concerned for the welfare of his people literally into his death. In accordance with his wishes, he did not receive a state funeral, which would have cost the Commonwealth's taxpayers thousands of dollars. Instead, his family held a wake for public viewing on January 12, after his body was flown back home from Seattle.
Then-Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo cancelled his scheduled meetings in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. to attend Mr. Inos's funeral, along with thousands from the NMI and Guam. He declared January 12 an official day of mourning for his friend, Mr. Inos. The two leaders worked closely on a number of issues, and worked well together.
Leaders throughout Micronesia and the military commands also attended his funeral, which is thought to be the largest attended in the Commonwealth's history.
In the year preceding his death and in consideration of the fiscal situation, Mr. Inos did not avail of the monthly utilities stipend accorded him by law, despite his medical battles.
Mr. Torres was sworn in as the Commonwealth's governor following Mr. Inos's death.
Mr. Fitial, whose one-year jail sentence was commuted by Mr. Inos, attended Mass services in commemoration of his former lieutenant governor at 6 a.m. today at Mount Carmel Cathedral. Former first lady Sophie Tenorio also attended the Mass.
Mr. Inos's wife, Dolores Agulto Inos, died in 2011 while he was serving as the lieutenant governor. They are buried next to each other at the Chalan Kanoa Cemetery for anyone who would like to commemorate their lives and visit their graves.