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NORTHERN Marianas College and the Department of Finance on Friday signed a memorandum of agreement formalizing a partnership in administering a customs and quarantine academy.

NMC Interim President Frankie Eliptico and Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig signed the MOA in the presence of Customs Director Jose Mafnas, Customs personnel, NMC Regent Irene Torres and other college officials at 10:30 a.m. in the NMC Board of Regents conference room.

Under the agreement, NMC and Finance will work together to train Customs and Biosecurity cadets. The cadets who participate in the Customs and Quarantine academy will receive training and professional development opportunities that relate to their responsibilities.

Eliptico said the cadets will also be considered full-time NMC students and will have access to student services, programs and financial aid available to NMC students.

Those who complete the Customs and Quarantine academy will earn 40 college credits in the process of their coursework. These college credits can be used toward the completion of a degree in the field of criminal justice.

In April, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres issued Executive Order No. 2021-09 transferring the Agricultural Quarantine Section of the Department of Lands and Natural Resources to the Division of Customs Services.

Atalig said the signing of the MOA is meaningful to his department, which is now providing Customs and Quarantine services.

“Nothing can go wrong with education,” said Atalig, a former NMC director of finance and administrative services. “My heart has always been with NMC and I'm an avid supporter of its programs.”

He said his department’s partnership with NMC will open a new chapter in the professional career of future Customs officers.

He said his department will encourage the cadets to further their education at NMC as he thanked Eliptico, the regents, other NMC officials, Mafnas and Customs personnel.

“I think this is a great step in the right direction and we are really excited,” Atalig said.

For his part, Mafnas said the training program is not only for cadets but also for Customs staff. “We have been talking about training. One of our major goals is to train our officers. I am 100% in support of this MOA. The Finance secretary has always been supportive of Customs programs especially the training of officers, he added.