Weekend Report Sept. 24,2012

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Senate CIP committee urges Attorney General to investigate Asphalt plant system
The Senate Committee on Capital Improvement Project chaired by Senator Paul Ueki is urging Attorney General Ernestine Rengiil to investigate the issue of Palau’s asphalt plant system procured in 1999. “I humbly request that you further investigate the issue for matters of fair value exchange and possible collusion, tadalafil “ said Senator Ueki in his letter to AG Rengiil dated on September 20.  Ueki was tasked by Senate President Mlib Tmetuchl to update the Senate on the current status of the asphalt plant procured by the national government for paving projects. According to Ueki’s investigation, the plant was procured in 1999 for paving roads in Peleliu and relocated to Koror where it was stored at Surangel and Sons due to lack of space. The plant and components, which cost nearly $700,000, were surveyed where three of four components were sold to Surangel & Sons for nearly $65,000, but no monetary payment was received. Ueki’s investigation indicated that Surangel & Sons completed the Ngersung road improvement project for the said amount instead. The other component remained in Surangel & Sons marina until 2009 when Airai state requested its disposal.
Chamber of Commerce questions Palau Airways FIB license application
President of Palau Chamber of Commerce, Ken Uyehara is raising concerns about Palau Airways’ application to the Foreign Investment Board (FIB) after operating since May without the foreign investment approval certificate from FIB. In his letter to FIB Chairperson John Skebong on September 12, Uyehara said the airlines application should not even be considered in the first place. “There should be strong objection raised by your good office over violation of the FIAC and blatant disregard of a regulatory application process,” said Uyehara. He also expressed concern that the airline did not have the minimum investment required when it established its business. The company incorporated in Palau with only $200,000 capitalization. “They are undercapitalized for an enterprise that they themselves projected to cost $4,490,000 in startup costs,” Uyehara said. In a statement to media, published by Tia Belau Newspaper, Palau Airways stated “in good faith, the company interpreted Foreign Investment Board regulations to exempt airline operations from the requirement to obtain an FIAC. Further stating, that after several months of operation the airline was advised by the Republic of Palau to obtain an FIAC, which they complied.
Feasible offsets identified for Palau compact legislation
With a tremendous amount of support from high U.S government officials about the timely passage of the Palau compact legislation currently pending the U.S Congress, more are now publicly showing their support. CNMI Congress man Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan said on Monday September 17, 2012 that “one of the reason for the delay in approving the 15-year renewal is the congressional requirement to offset the cost with savings elsewhere in the budget.” But he indicates in a press release that “there are now feasible offsets indentified in the legislation”. Sablan, a member of the U.S Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs and co-sponsor of the bill urge the promoted approval of Palau’s compact legislation. “We have to stop nickel and diming our important ally, which consistently supports the United States at the United Nations and which is strategically located in the Pacific Rim”, says Sablan. After testifying at the recent subcommittee hearing, Guam Congresswoman Bordallo urged for the passage of the compact stressing that it may “affect U.S’ diplomatic relations and political capital with allies” in the region.
Witness identifies Misech as hacking suspect during Testimony
Witness identifies Misech as Hacking Suspect during Testimony
A number of testimonies were heard this week in the case of the Republic vs. Amador Misech aka Amador Osima. On September 17, 2012, the court heard the testimony of Mr. Richard Delarosa, who identified the defendant as the suspect with the machete. During his afternoon testimony at courtroom 101, Delarosa told prosecutors that he identified Misech to the police as the person he witnessed holding a machete during the initial stages of the investigation. He testified that the defendant was holding a machete with a black plastic handle during their brief encounter at his barracks. Defense attorney Siegfried Nakamura presented a machete marked as evidence if it was the machete he saw the defendant holding, Delarosa said that he could not confidently say that it’s the exact machete he saw the defendant with, but he indicated it was ‘like’ it. The trial continued throughout the rest of the week with several other testimonies from other witnesses including the presentation of evidence for the jury. The jury consists of eight local men and women.
Kosrae to create massive Shark Sanctuary
Kosrae has become the first state of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) to establish stark protection in its waters, a bid that encompasses two million square miles of ocean. “The protection of sharks fits into an even larger conservation goal for Micronesia,” said Governor Lyndon Jackson. “This goal, called the Micronesian Challenge, seeks to effectively conserve 30 percent of near shore resources. But some species, especially sharks, swim in and out of protected areas, so additional policies are needed.” Once approved, the sanctuary will ban the sale, trade and possession of shark products in Kosrae and prohibit commercial shark fishing in the 12-mile area under its jurisdiction. Kosrae now joins Palau, Tokelau, Marshall Islands, Honduras and two other countries in establishing shark sanctuaries.
US JTF HD and Palau Emergency committee conducts table top exercise
The U.S Joint Task Force Homeland Defense team and Palau’s National Emergency Committee gathered for the table top exercise, aiming to overview the country’s disaster management and communication within the incident command system. JTF HD and Emergency committee members joined together to participant in a scenario in which a typhoon called Sepat has brought heavy rains, flooding and damage to the island. Another exercise included the no-notice mass casualty exercise at the airport. Officials say the training exercise is an opportunity to share information between Palau and the US JTF HD on how to facilitate the response for any incidents that would require several authorities to respond. The exercise also focused on communication and ability. A similar exercise was conducted in CNMI several weeks ago.
Primary Election seeks two candidates for the Executive Branch
Palauan voters will be going to the polls on Tuesday September 25 to seek two Presidential and two Vice President candidates for the 2012 general election in November. Palau Election Commission has started obtaining votes from confined voters at their residence or hospital. More than 2,000 absentee ballots have also been sent overseas, and have received nearly 800 ballots and will continue to receive them until seven days after the primary. Vying for the Presidential seat are Sandra Sumang Pierantozzi, Tommy Remengesau Jr and Johnson Toribiong. Vying for the Vice President’s office are Jackson Ngiraingas, Stevenson Kuartei, Tony Bells and Kerai Mariur.
Temekai released in efforts to replenish fish stocks
More than 2,000 temekai or grouper fish were released last week as part of the effort to replenish Palau’s depleting fish stocks. Officials from the national government including President Toribiong and ROC Ambassador Maggie Tien were on hand to release the groupers after 45 days in tanks at the new Palau National Aquaculture Center. The groupers project was led by four Aquaculture staff including two experts from Taiwan.  During the release, President Toribiong extended the Republic’s appreciation of Taiwan’s continued assistance in securing Palau’s food security.
Fiji threatens to withdraw from PACP group
After being banned from the Pacific Islands Forum and excluded from the Pacific ACP meeting as a result, in addition to a country paper tabled at the PACP Trade Ministers meeting in mid August, Fiji said if the Forum Secretariat continues to deny the country’s participation the nation will be “forced to withdraw from PACP forums.” Fiji has also indicated that it will consider withdrawing from the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) like it did for PACER Plus, if it is not allowed to participate fully at the highest level at PACP meetings and activities.
FSM payroll system has widespread problem says Public Auditor’s office
The Public Auditor’s Office of the Federated States of Micronesia says the country’s payroll system has widespread problems. In an interview with Radio Australia, the Public Auditor’s office revealed the extent of the problem, which included paychecks going to former employees that were not detected or corrected by the Finance Department. In a review of the last two years, the office found significant overpayments made to employees for unauthorized hours that were also not detected by the Finance Department. The Public Auditors office told Radio Australia that the gravity of the findings if not corrected, will eventually erode the integrity of the payroll system. The government reportedly issues 25,000 checks annually to a value of more than $15 million.
Kosraean soldier killed in Afghanistan
Kosraean soldier killed in Afghanistan
Another Micronesian son has paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving the U.S military in Afghanistan. 25-year old Army Sgt. Sapuro B. Nena, a native of Kosrae, FSM with ties to Guam died on September 16 when his team was attacked with small arms fire. According to the U.S Department of Defense, Sgt. Nena entered the military in 2008. Prior to his mission in Afghanistan, he was deployed to Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Guam Governor Eddie Calvo and his family offered their deepest and most heartfelt condolences to his family. His wife was staying in Guam during his deployment, but has since left for Dover, Delaware to retrieve Sgt. Nena’s body. The burial is expected to take place in Kosrae.
Kiribati man says Shark helped SAVE his life
41-year old Toakai Teitoi of Kiribati credits a 6-foot shark for his life after drifting for 15-weeks at sea. Teitoi told reporters that he woke to a scratching sound on his boat where he witnessed the shark circulating the boat and bumping against its hull. “He was guiding me to a fishing boat,” said Teitoi. “I looked up and there was the stern of a ship and I could see crew with binoculars looking at me.” Teitoi and his brother-in-law was lost at sea after their boat drifted while they slept. Unfortunately, Teitoi’s brother-in-law died of dehydration a month before he was rescued by a Marshallese fishing boat. He was taken to Majuro where he flew back home adding, “I’ll never go by boat again.”
Landslide closes compact road in Ngchesar until further notice
On the eve of Sunday September 16, a massive landslide prompt the East compact road in Babeldaob to close pending further notices. Officials indicate that the landslide was caused by recent weather conditions such as heavy rains. Traffic has been redirected and drivers are recommended to take alternative routes to get to the Capital, Ngiwal and Ngchesar State. The east compact road is the most commuted route from Koror to the Capital. Work is anticipated to take several days. As of today, the road is still closed until further notice.
Royal couple ends jubilee visit in Tuvalu
Royal couple ends Jubilee visit in Tuvalu
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and his wife Catherine ended their Jubilee visit to the Asia-Pacific region with a joyful evening ceremony in one of the world’s smallest and most isolated nations – Tuvalu. During their visit, the Duke and Duchess were taken on a tour of the tiny town of Funafuti, visiting the local school, playing some volleyball and meeting local chiefs. But the highlight came that night following a banquet of raw slices of Paala fish, leg of pork, roast chicken, fresh clam and lauluu – a local spinach. A barefoot Duchess wore a long flowing dress under a grass skirt with a floral crown. They then danced the night away at the gathering of island chiefs, with the inter-island singing celebration meaning they can officially lay claim to being true Tuvalu royals. “The whole world remembers the reception you gave Her Majesty back then – it is one of the iconic images of her reign,” William said in a speech referring to the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s visit in 1982. “Your wonderful welcome has to be the most original and quite literally uplifting ever, we will both remember it and the joy and happiness of what has followed for the rest of our lives.”
Pacific participants depart for Kizuna Project
First Pacific participants for the Kizuna project, a youth exchange program funded by Japan has departed for a two week study, aimed at promoting global understanding of Japan’s revival efforts in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake. Each country group consists of 22 students and one adult supervisor. The program is set from September to December of this year, which will bring students from across the Pacific including Palau, FSM, RMI, and the Cook Islands. The first batch of students who recently left for Japan is from Cook Islands, Niue, RMI and FSM.