Court denies motion to dismiss lawsuit against Palau President and Vice President
seek Right: Kerai Mariur” src=”http://www.oceaniatv.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/121019-toribiong-mariur-300×187.jpg” alt=”Court denies motion to dismiss lawsuit against Palau President and Vice President” width=”300″ height=”187″ />
On October 17, 2012, the Supreme Court issued a fourteen-page decision denying President Toribiong and Vice President Mariur’s motion to dismiss the case that was filed against them, personally and in their official capacities, by Senators Whipps, Jr., Oilouch, Baules, Remengesau, Jr. and Chin. The case involves the alleged misuse of the Uighur funds and alleged unconstitutional Executive Branch over-expenditures. The Court found that the funds given by the United States to Palau for the resettlement of the Uighurs were public funds subject to use and distribution according to applicable Palau law. The Court found that the Defendants will be held accountable for their use of the Uighur funds and no Executive defenses raised in their motion shall prohibit adjudication of the suit. The Court found that the doctrine of sovereign immunity does not bar this suit, explaining that the President was not acting under his “discretionary authority” when distributing the Uighur funds, since the President is bound by statute to follow the competitive biding process for the use of public funds. The Court rejected the application of the doctrine of Qualified Immunity and found that it does not require dismissal of this Complaint since a violation of the law “undercuts the protections of Qualified Immunity.” In other words, if “the President violated these laws . . . Qualified Immunity does not protect either the President or Vice President in this case”. Defendants also protested that there is no injury in this case, since the “President effectively managed the funds and got the Uighurs into a safe location.” The Court pointed out that the potential injury is to the taxpayers for the misuse of public funds. This decision comes 19 days before Palau’s General Election wherein Defendants President Toribiong and Vice President Mariur seek re-election.
Senator Baules subpoenaed for violation of probation and assault and battery
Less that 48 hours after Senator Baules was found in violation of his probation the Government is seeking his arrest anew. The Government alleges that on October 17, 2012 at approximately 9:50 a.m., Baules struck a patient of the Bureau of Behavioral Health, Kenheart Andrew, with a metal chair at the Did Ra Ngmatel (Blue Bay) gas station leaving Kenheart on the ground bleeding from his head. The Affidavit of Probable Cause filed with the Court on October 17, 2012 alleges that Baules told the police officer that Kenheart punched him in the head and that he could “ask around about why Kenheart was bleeding.” However, none of the witnesses at the gas station would comment on the events of that morning except for Rhodas Ngirengkloi. Ngirengkloi explained that Kenheart struck Baules first and then “speculated” that Kenheart was bleeding from his head because he might have “tripped and fell on the floor.” A statement was taken from Duet Viola Toribiong who was present at the gas station. She said that she saw Kenheart first punched Baules with his fist two or three times before he was restrained. As Kenheart was being pulled away from Baules, she explained, that Kenheart tripped over a chair and fell to the floor. As he was being helped up, Senator Baules took a “chair by the backrest and hit Kenheart in the head with the chair as Kenheart was lying on the floor in front of him. “ She then saw Baules continue to strike Kenheart with the chair, even while Kenheart was “immobilized” on the floor.
Misech found guilty of 2nddegree murder, not guilty on robbery and 1st degree murder
Six jurors found Amador Misech aka Amador Osima guilty of second-degree murder when the verdict was announced on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at courtroom 101. Misech was found not guilty of attempted robbery and first-degree murder. The first jury trial lasted several weeks where a number of testimonies were heard and evidence presented. Richard Delarosa, one of many witnesses identified the defendant as the person he witnessed holding a machete during the initial stages of police investigation during his testimony at the courtroom last month. The Attorney General’s office released a statement to the media saying that the victim’s husband and family were pleased with the outcome of the case. The Attorney General’s office also commended the work of the Bureau of Public Safety including the Transnational Crime Unit and the Australian Federal Police for their assistance in providing expert testimony and testing of items related to the case. Misech was on trial for the hacking murder of Virginia Galo in June of last year. A sentencing hearing will be set when Chief Justice Arthur Ngiraklsong returns from his trip off-island.
Multi-million dollar project set to improve water quality in Peleliu
A project is underway to improve the water quality in the state of Peleliu with the recent approval of a $4 million dollar desalination project for the State. Funded by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the project will involve the use of reserve osmosis technology to improve water quality and the use of solar energy to power the plant. “This is good news for the people of Peleliu who have suffered for years from brackish and inadequate supply of healthy potable water,” said President Toribiong, whose office helped spearhead the project. The Funds for the project are part of half a billion-dollar pledge from the Government of Japan to Pacific Island countries. In his letter of congratulations to Palau, Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat said that over the coming weeks, the Pacific Environment Community Fund (PEC Fund) will prepare a Financial Agreement for the implementation of the approved project, where both Palau and the Secretariat will work together to “ensure that the implementation of the project is expedited.” According to the Office of the President, a similar proposal is pending for Angaur state as they face similar waters issues.
Diaz Ignores Request for Equal Airtime Under the Law
Beginning 60 days before the general election, all advertising rates must be equal for political candidates. With Senator and radio host Diaz remaining on the air after the September 7th deadline, he has created a situation where he must now allow any and all senate candidates equal free airtime on his radio and television station, which now amounts to over 100 hours per candidate. Under the Palau election law it has been illegal for WWFM to charge any senate candidate for any appearance or advertisement on TV or Radio since September 7th. Senate candidate Moses Uludong has demanded his share of free equal airtime for himself and the people’s party. In a letter to Diaz, Senate Candidate Uludong cited the equal airtime law and also accused Diaz of lying to the voters with false attacks against himself, other candidates and lying about vote buying. Senate Candidate Uludong also challenged Diaz to a debate. Under the law Diaz and WWFM are required to give any senate candidate equal airtime which a candidate can use for any message including a talk show, advertisement or playing a pre-produced show. Any Senate candidate that has paid WWFM for advertising after September 7th also has the right to a full refund. OTV spoke with a WWFM representative who had no comment at the time. Senate Candidate Uludong has made a second request to Diaz requiring a response by October 22nd.
Palau mentioned in PBS show highlighting human trafficking in the Philippines
In a PBS series Agents of Change, highlighting people around the world working to improve the lives of others, Visayan Foundation Forum in an attempt to end human trafficking in the Phillipines has been conducted undercover sting operations to catch recruiters who engage in human trafficking. Throughout their investigations, it was found that some workers who have been recruited as waitresses here in Palau ended up being forced to sit on men’s laps, have a drink with them, and engage in prostitution. President Benigno Aquino of the Phillipines has pledged to crack down on these illegal recruiters and launched an anti-corruption drive to end organized crime and the human trafficking problem.”
Palau President proposes to extend COLA to government workers
Palau President Johnson Toribiong, who is seeking re-election this year, has submitted a proposal to the Olbiil Era Kelulau for the extension of the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) for the 2013 fiscal year with less than 20 days left until the general election. The President said that “any further delay in the extension of the COLA to those who make less than $25,000 per year would make it very difficult for them to make ends meet in view of the ever rising costs of living, especially the costs of electrical power and fuel.” The President’s legislation proposes a sum of $1.3 million to provide $20 bi-weekly COLA to every full-time employee of the state and national governments until the enactment of the FY 2013 budget. COLA extension is also included in the FY 2013 budget proposal, which is currently pending in the OEK. Government workers received COLA in the last fiscal year from July through September 2012 for the first time since the current administration took office.
Harrier Aircraft land in Palau
If you thought you saw a strange plane slowly moving across the sky you were correct. Two Harrier jets from the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu made an unscheduled landing on the island of Palau due to inclement weather on Oct. 6. The U.S. Embassy arranged for lodging for the two pilots and fuel for the aircraft. Capt. Mark Sakaguchi, stated that “The assistance that was provided by the Republic of Palau demonstrates the value of our partners in the Oceania region.” The San Diego based Peleliu is the flagship of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready group currently on a Pacific Ocean deployment. The file footage is from a AV-8B Harrier making a landing on board a U.S. helicopter carrier.
Palau receives high profile award for conservation policies in India
Two outstanding conservation policies implemented by Palau that won the 2012 Future Policy Award by the World Future Council was presented to Palau Conservation Society’s Heather Ketebengang at the recent United Nations Biodiversity Summit in India. “The Republic of Palau is working for the protection of its oceans and coasts and contributes to ensuring that our children and grandchildren can enjoy the many benefits the world’s oceans provide,” said Jakob von Uexkull Founder of the World Future Council during the award ceremony. Accepting the award on behalf the government of Palau, Ketebengang stressed that “conserving and protecting our marine and coastal biodiversity is important for sustaining our livelihoods in Palau and globally”. Palau was awarded with the 2012 Future Policy Award for the Protected Areas Network Act and the Shark Haven Act.
Movement to impeach CNMI Governor fails to pass
A historical resolution that sought to impeach CNMI Governor Benigno Fitial failed to pass during a tense five-hour session at the country’s House of Representatives. Fitial was facing 16 allegations of felony, corruption and neglect of duty. The House of Representatives during the heated session was only able to secure nene of 14 “yes” votes needed to impeach to the Governor. House minority leader Joe Deleon Guerrero told reporters after the session on Wednesday October 17 that he’s “disappointed” with the outcome and the “ultimate cover up” that the House leadership showed when it refused to grant a few days extension to review the committee report based on evidence. Deleon Guerrero is the main author of the impeachment resolution, along with six other minority bloc members. This is the first time in CNMI history that a resolution to impeach a governor was formally introduced, takes up by a special committee for a month and voted on by the full House of Representatives.
FSM PetroCorp files suit in bidding for power plant project
FSM Petroleum Corporation (PetroCorp) has filed a civil action protesting the method by which Energy Infrastructure Global (EIG) was selected as the winning bidder for a Pohnpei Utilities Corporation power plant project. ?In mid-summer, PUC called for Requests for Proposals for provision of power to Pohnpei. PetroCorp was one of the bidders. PetroCorp claims that they and other bidders unfairly lost the bid to EIG because of actions of the Governor including his order that PUC select EIG as the winner of the bid. “EIG…was not chosen by PUC or the PUC created committee charged with independently reviewing the submitted bids,” the claim stated.
Marshalls Telecom authority expands link to Kiribati
The Marshall Islands National Telecommunications Authority has tendered an agreement with the Telecom Service Kiribati to provide satellite and fiber cable communication links to world. The agreement following an earlier deal between NTA and telecom company in the Solomon Islands. The satellite links provided to the two telecoms are connected to NTA’s fiber optic cable, giving the Solomon Islands and Kiribati greater access to the outside world. “This is helpful to NTA because we have satellite contracts that we are committed to, but that we’re not using because of the submarine fiber cable that was installed two years ago,” said NTA general manager Tommy Kijiner Jr. According to Kijiner, Kiribati is only buying a small amount of bandwidth because of limitations in its equipment. “With Kiribati, it only for internet service now,” said Kijiner. “But there is a lot of room for cooperation between NTA and Kiribati.”
Fallen Kosraean U.S Army Sergeant honored
U.S Army Sgt. Sapuro Brightley Nena of Kosrae, who was killed in Afghanistan, was honored in his home state with full military honors. Nena’s body was flown to Kosrae on a military transport plane along with a Military Honor Guard from Fort Lewis, Washington. His funeral and memorial service was held on October 8, attended by his family, friends, government officials including the U.S Ambassador to the FSM. Sgt. Nena was a highly decorated soldier with several awards including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal and others. He is survived by his wife and mother.
Book recording Pacific Leaders conversation launched
A book recording conservations with some of the founding Pacific Islands Forum Leaders was launched in the region on October 9, 2012. The book titled ‘New Flags Flying’ is the work of veteran New Zealand broadcaster/writer Ian Johnstone and former New Zealand diplomat Michael Powles. The interviews in the book provides a unique record of Pacific history and reflects the views and memories of the most influential decision makers of their time – telling not only the political stories of independence, but the personal stories of the men and women involved. The book includes recording from Sandra Sumang Pierantozzi of Palau, Kessai Note of the Marshall Islands and John Haglelgam of the Federated States of Micronesia amongst other influential decision makers. “… We have in “New Flags Flying”, a portal into the past with which we must seek gains for today. As we pursue improved lives for the peoples of the Pacific, let us reflect on the stories told by Pacific Leaders in this book,” said Tuiloma Nerodi Slade, Secretary General of the Forum Secretary at the book launch. The book will be distributed to schools, institutions and libraries across the Pacific region with support from the AusAID Pacific Leadership Program.
Mobile Clinic to provide dental services in Micronesia
A mobile dental clinic designed by an Oregon State Dentist will be heading to Micronesia to provide dental services through the Caring Hand to Mouth Organization. Dentist Cedric Hayden of Oregon, founder of the Caring Hand to Mouth, a non-profit organization that provides dental treatment for low-income families, designed the trailer truck into a mobile dental office. The mobile clinic has a waiting room, a sterilization room and a fully equipped dental chair, which is aimed to bring dental care to anywhere in the world with its first stop in Micronesia. Hayden is still in the process of finalizing the transportation of the mobile clinic including recruiting volunteer dentists to help provide free care before embarking to Micronesia.
Young Cook Islander wins 2012 Pacific Break contest
18-year-old Jaik Berg of Cook Islands has won the 2012 Radio Australia’s Pacific Break 2012 with his standout song ‘My Oh My’. Competition was fierce with many outstanding entries as diverse and exciting as the Pacific Island nations they came from. However, it was ultimately Berg’s soulful voice, catchy tune, and laidback vibe that managed to receive the judge’s unified agreement as this year’s best. “Jaik Berg’s track My Oh My just showcased such raw talent in both voice and musicianship we couldn’t go past it. It caught everyone’s ears from the first moment,” said Damon Hughes from the judging panel. Berg will fly to Australia for a recording session at the ABC studios and to attend the Australasian World Music Expo in Melbourne. In addition, a selection of this year’s entries including Berg’s song will be featured on the Pacific Break 2012 compilation CD, which will be released early next year.
Palau Conservation Society Fundraising Event
The Palau Conservation Society (PCS) this year raised over $25,000 with help from partner agencies, members of PCS, the community and others. The event was held on the eve of Thursday October 11 where Koror State and Kayangel State governments won the top giveaway prize of roundtrip ticket to anywhere in the U.S sponsored by Delta and $1,000 junior grand prize. Over 600 people attended the fundraising event at the Ngarachamayong Cultural Center.
Micronesian Shark Foundation and PCS donates materials to MOE
The Micronesian Shark Foundation in collaboration with Palau Conservation Society presented new materials to the Ministry of Education on Thursday October 18, 2012 for student learning. The donated books were handed over to the Ministry by Tova Harel Bornovski the Foundation’s CEO and PCS’ Executive Director Elbuchel Sadang. The book titled ‘Finny and Friends’ from A-Z is created by Palauans for students grades 1-3. “Not only is it beautiful, not only is it educational, it’s a great opportunity for everybody to learn about marine creatures that some people never heard of”, said Bornovski during the brief handover ceremony at the Ministry’s office. The donation also included 1,000 copies of the book in coloring book form for students. The books will not only be distributed to schools in Palau, they will also be donated to schools around the region. “Our donation is a 160 books for elementary schools in Palau and we have more to be donated to neighboring islands,” said Bornovski.