Letter to the Editor: Pohnpei AG v. Pohnpei CJ

05 JUNE 2017 - There seem(s) to be little doubt (that) the Pohnpei State Attorney General’s office is on an official rampage to derail the Pohnpei Chief Justice from office. First, it flooded the State Legislature with more than a dozen assertions of acts (that) the AG(’s) office deemed (to be) illegal...(that the office considered to be)...misconduct in office.
While the state legislature set about its task to determine (whether) the evidence (was) credible to support (the AG’s) claim of misconduct, the AG upgrade(d) the ante by filing civil action PCA No. 154-17 against the Chief Justice. The grounds alleged in the civil action (were) basically the same as those provided to the State Legislature to consider as bas(e) s for removal of the CJ from office by impeachment.
For its final assault, the Pohnpei AG’s office filed criminal case PKD No. 54-17 charging the Pohnpei CJ with more than 20 counts of violations of laws based on the exact grounds that support(ed) its call for impeachment, and its lawsuit PCA. No. 54-2017.
These three legal weapons, of choice, namely: (1) call for impeachment, (2) lawsuit, and (3) criminal charges, all point to a common goal, the removal of the Pohnpei Chief Justice from office.
It seems, though, that this is not going to be an easy goal on a silver platter in view of the AG’s course of action.
First, it raises a political question. Which branch of the government should remove the CJ(?) Can the Legislature proceed to impeach the CJ when the AG has pre-empted the legislature and filed criminal charges against the CJ? If convicted by the court, that would end the CJ tenure.
Common law dictates that an impeached official is not immune from criminal prosecution, but not the other way around; first prosecute and when (if) convicted, proceed with the impeachment.
For officials that can be removed from office by impeachment, a criminal charge is like a double-edge sword. This is so because conviction of (a) crime has two results: (1) removal from office(,) and (2) penalty for the crime is imposed, while an impeachment effectuate(s) removal from office.
The crux of the problem lies in the identical or same grounds that support both the proposed impeachment and the criminal charges. The Legislature could easily adopt an impeachment and the CJ will then be removed and await trial befor(e) a panel of three state court judges.
The standard of proof in the trial of the articles of impeachment is by preponderance of the evidence, while the standard of proof in the criminal charges is higher, which is proof beyond reasonable doubt...so that the criminal charges may create an impasse to the passage of the impeachment resolution, because adoption of an impeachment resolution means (that) two trials will be held on (the) same set of facts with two different standard(s) of proof.
The impeachment trial require(s) the lesser standard of proof and the criminal trial the higher standard of proof.
But surely, it does seem ludicrous to face two trials for the same set of facts that are (to) be tried under two different standard(s) of proof. It is anybody’s guess on the outcome of such trial, which can occurred only if the legislature opted to impeach the CJ.
These three events (were) fueled originally by the state public auditor report, that resulted in charges against the court’s Administrative officer, and a(n) assistant (C)lerk of court. The court’s AO was arrested under AG instruction, while he was about to board a plane with his wife and children to visit his grandparents in the Republic of Palau.
The court’s AO became distraught and traumatized by the arrest and separation from his family, according to family members, that he died (several months) later. The charges against him (the court’s AO) and the assistant clerk of court were recently dismissed by the court (without prejudice).
It is disconcerting that the criminal charges were filed without a thorough consideration of procedural ramifications of such course of action.
(I) am dismayed at the fact the CJ was not investigated or questioned about his travel advances before the filing of the charges. My cursory review of the CJ travel advances indicated (that) the Dept. of Treasury & Administration had approved all the travel advances.
Joseph (Joe) Phillip

[Editor’s note: As often as possible, I attempt to publish letters to the editor in unedited form even if I personally disagree with the opinions expressed. However, in the case of the above letter I was forced to make some edits while leaving intact, the opinion that was expressed.
I had initially intended to run the item exactly as it was submitted until I was reminded that if a newspaper publishes something when we know that parts of the information are false the newspaper loses it constitutional protections against defamation. In New York Times v. Sullivan, Time v. Hill, and Gertz v. Robert Welsh (1974) the Court, relying on a long line of previous cases further defined publication with malice as “reckless disregard” for the truth to include “subjective awareness of probably falsity.”
The good Mr. Phillip, esquire wrote his letter under the aegis of a group whose articles of incorporation were not accepted by the State government because the name the group chose would be misleading. As submitted, Mr. Phillip’s letter gave the impression that some entity governing all of the attorneys who practice law in Pohnpei agree with his opinion on the subject.
I corrected a statement regarding the amount of time that passed between the AG directed arrest of a court officer and the officer’s unfortunate and untimely death.
The Court did dismiss the case of Ms. Ruthie Hadley but did so at the prosecutor’s request and the dismissal was without prejudice, meaning that the charges can be revisited at a later date.
Most of the other edits I made were for correction of typographical errors, missing words or substantive grammatical errors.
Letters to the Editor are certainly welcome and we will do our best to publish them. Just be aware that we cannot allow defamation or falsehoods to be published under the guise of opinion. It is possible that the person who submitted the above letter believed that all of the information submitted was accurate. Just the same, I still had responsibility to correct what I knew needed to be corrected.]

K Press Perspective: False Facebook pages appearing for FSM Government elected leaders and appointed officials

Someone has been creating false Facebook pages for FSM government elected leaders and top appointed government officials. It doesn’t seem to be an innocuous, “I had nothing to do, so I created a Facebook page” type of thing. Rather, it seems to be an effort to gain the confidence of unwary Facebook users so that they can draw them into some sort of a financial scam.
The Internet has changed everything. It’s come to the point that some people can’t do much of anything without first consulting sources on the Internet or posting on social media that their feet just hit the ground as they got out of bed, and providing a photo of their feet hitting the ground to prove it.
But be warned, sites on the Internet can be wrong, whether intentionally so, or from malice. They can be disingenuous in the extreme. When some of those fake content sites are called to task, they will often say that their malice is entertainment, as we just saw with the Alex Jones (Info Wars) Custody battle in U.S. news this week.
Blogs and fake news sites on the Internet can take you in if you aren’t careful and vigilant. Some internet sites will prey on your preconceived notions and tell you what you want to hear with the end goal that you will do what they hope you will do. If you aren’t careful, sites on the Internet can steal your identity, your money. If you aren’t very careful, they can even steal the hearts of members of your family.

Read more: K Press Perspective: False Facebook pages appearing for FSM Government elected leaders and...

Opinion Editorial: Webber: Help Yap go to robotics competition

webber opinionLee P. Webber, for PDN
reprinted with permission
When was the last time you heard about the Yap Robotics team? The Yap Robotics team you say? The only thing we know about Yap is stone money, manta rays and grass skirts!
Au contraire.
The Habele Outer Island Education Fund is a U.S.-based 501(c)3 nonprofit, started by former Peace Corps Volunteers, that works across the freely associated states of Micronesia. It sponsored the first Robotics League on Yap, and the island has been invited to attend a global robotics competition in Washington, D.C., this summer.
The first Robotics Day on Yap was held in 2012, in Kolonia. It was a heavily advertised, open-air public event. Local residents described the event as unprecedented. Students and schools were highly enthusiastic.
In 2013, students from Chaminade High School in California provided used parts to refresh and expand the Yap teams' kits. Habele paid for, and coordinated, delivery. Additional new parts were purchased and provided by Habele. Interest in the teams among schools doubled.

Read more: Opinion Editorial: Webber: Help Yap go to robotics competition

Letter to the Editor: Who judges the judges?

Judges are among our most powerful public officials. They are invested with unparalled cases, lifetime tender to insulate them from influence and pressure. But what happens to them when they wield their power irresponsibly and twist the law they are sworn to uphold?
Usually, not that much. Judges are monitored in most cases, by fellow judges who are reluctant to penalize one of their own. Of course, most judges deserve the respect paid to them. But, as our investigation reveals, a disturbing number do not.
Proper investigation can show all.
Joseph Edward


Adding to the education experience
In all our work we ask, “What can we add to the education experience.” It is in the soft options associated with building such as teacher training. This is where we are adding value. We want quality education that enables students to develop skills. That means they can make a meaningful contribution to their community and society once thy have left school. We ensure that they are as employable as possible. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Our students are yet to do the hands-on exposure to technology skills. For many, it is going to play a critical role in their lives.
The key to having the ability to learn and make meaningful contributions is having a sense of self-respect and self-worth. Children go to school to learn, but modern day education wants to focus on increasing the sense of self-confidence that will enable them to use what they learned effectively.
Joseph Edward

Letter to the Editor: Counterpoint on FSM Dual Citizenship

I respectfully disagree with former president Haglelgam. He does not see the value in dual citizenship, but I’m sure his grandchildren will differ in their opinion once they reach the age of 18 in the US. By the way, it is not as easy as he makes it sounds to renounce your US citizenship. It can be expensive and the US government may restrict you from entering the country once you renounce your citizenship. Honorable Haglelgam claims only a small group will benefit from dual citizenship. Well, that number is not as small as it may have been when he was president and continues to grow everyday. I’m not going to get into the exact numbers, but about a decade ago the estimate was over 30,000 Micronesians living in the US and the number continues to increase due to the mass exodus in recent years. Some estimates are as high 70,000 people from the COFA countries that are currently residing in the United States. That is a pretty significant percentage of the population that would benefit from dual citizenship. I understand President Haglelgam’s opposition to the initiative but there are a countless number of grandpas and parents back home that do want to leave their land that may have been brought down through generations to their US born kin. Many Micronesians left their home island in search of work, education, or for health reasons. Many have settled in the US with their children or grandchildren in the hopes of someday returning to help and contribute to the development of their homeland. Many have joined the US military for similar reasons and have been limited to moving up in ranks due to restrictions on higher security clearances. President Haglelgam explains, “Is it worth enacting a dual citizenship for these people and risk allowing foreigners who are able to acquire dual citizenship for the FSM and their respective countries to own land in our country?” To my understanding as the law stands, a foreigner with no FSM blood can become an FSM citizen through the naturalization process so how would the dual citizenship favor someone who can already access the path to citizenship. The dual citizen initiative is intended to allow persons of FSM heritage (blood) to hold two passports. Aside from the naturalization process to become an FSM citizen, at least one of your parents must be from the FSM and you need to obtain your passport by the age of 21. Dual citizenship will enable someone of FSM heritage, whether they serve in the military and elect to get their US passport or whether they have US born children who would benefit from programs that their host country offers, without risk of losing their heritage.
On a slightly different note, but related, I’ve always felt our compact with the US allowing our young men and women to join the US military conflicts with our own FSM constitution which doesn’t allow allegiance to any other country. In simple terms we allow our citizens to die for the United States of America but if they become a citizen of the US they risk losing their heritage back home. Micronesians are one of the least represented islander groups in the US and having dual citizens to represent us without recourse from local governments whether in Guam, Hawaii or even at the federal level would be beneficial to all Micronesians. The Marshall Islands and Palau have dual citizenship and appear to be progressing yet holding on to their culture and nationalism. Islanders by nature are proud and have no issue with identity. Our greatest resource is our people so give them incentive to return with their families and contribute to our islands future. I’m for dual citizenship especially during this time of uncertainty with the fast approaching compact negotiations and the present U.S. administration’s hard stance against immigration.
My opinion,
Johnny Aliksa Duffy