Charges against Abello-Alfonso questionable?

The filing of criminal charges against a political candidate, Dr. Merlynn Abello- Alfonso on February 12, 2019 raises a lot of interesting and intriguing facts. I have been closely following the unfolding of this scenario and am compelled to share my observations on this matter because it is deeply troubling and has shaken my trust in our Government system. Everything about this issue with Genesis Corporation and Dr. Merlynn Abello- Alfonso raises the question of motives for this. Is it personal or political?? Regardless of the motive, it is without question very malicious, vindictive, and sickening.

Timing appears suspicious and seem aimed to affect her candidacy for the March 05, 2019 upcoming Congressional election. Everything that has occurred did not follow due process since day one. No opportunity was given for her to respond to the charges that were filed against her. Barely two weeks before the election, on February 12, 2019, the Pohnpei State AG, Mr. Dana Smith hastily filed criminal charges of human trafficking, violation of Pohnpei Labor Wage Law, and forgery among other things against Dr. Merlynn Abello-Alfonso and Genesis Corporation. All these charges simply do not fit the personality and person that everyone knew. The charges are so ridiculous I am in disbelief!

The stated charges were more civil rather than criminal in nature. These were labor issues and Pohnpei State Labor Office is the right division of government that should deal with these. The right process would be an administrative hearing to determine the information gathered and compliance imposed on the entity involved should there be a need to. So why is the Pohnpei State AG office directly handling and running everything on this case? Furthermore, investigations, interrogations were conducted by the State AG himself, Mr. Dana Smith and his lady staff Tracy Ardos.

On the facts, it appears that on August 7, 2018, Ms. Malpihna Nelper, Chief of Division of Personnel, Labor and Manpower development Pohnpei State did issue a letter to Dr. Merlynn Abello-Alfonso/Genesis Corporation requesting for the following information.  Employee name, address, date of birth, legal resident, citizenship, country of origin, expiration of entry permit, job title, wage, employment benefits, payroll records, employees education, number of employees and type of injury or illness if any, and copies of current contract and extension. That is a lot of information to request and very burdensome to submit considering there are more than fifty some employees under Genesis Corporation. That letter specifically stated” these information are important and to be used for our survey.” Illegal? No, not really as Pohnpei State Labor does have authority to request such information. Unusual? Yes, it was the first time such voluminous information was requested and Genesis did take its time responding due to the amount of work it entailed. But obviously the reason stated that it was for a survey was untrue. So why the deceit in requesting such information?

And a even bigger question is why is the Pohnpei State Labor Office not doing the investigation itself. Pohnpei State Prosecution office had none to minimal participation. Everything was done at AG by Mr. Dana Smith and Tracy Ardos. The other two attorney staff had been kept in the dark and clueless of what was happening. No opportunity was given for Dr. Merlynn Abello-Alfonso to respond nor was she asked about anything. What forces are working in our government to allow such actions to be tolerated? The charges did not even have a single  document attached to it to support  charges filed against her

and was very poorly presented. Any one with basic legal background would know it did not constitute much, was nonsensical,  and was not going to hold up in court.

On the afternoon of February 20, 2019, the doctor was served an arrest warrant for “obstruction of justice” for a general staff meeting she had which was  taken  out  of context. Again no due process was followed as she was read her rights and questioned only after she was released from nearly 22 hours in custody. Another obvious blunder! Interesting to note was that she has not even received a summons for that particular case in her individual capacity so how could there be obstruction of justice for a non-existent case?

After all the efforts exerted to file charges against Genesis Corporation and the doctor candidate, February 26, 2019 nobody showed up from the opposing party! So one is left to wonder, what EXACTLY is going on??

This certainly seems weird. Or perhaps maybe not after all. It could be an attempt to shred the reputation of a woman who has recently lost her husband and has led a life of service to the people of Pohnpei most of her life. No justice in all this as she is one of the kindest soul I know, Always ready to lend a hand and has served Pohnpei and its people, from all walks of life- students, youth. churches, women organizations, schools etc. I would not be surprised if she does turn around to sue our already poor government for all that it has put her through. We are certainly now a circus with puppets bending over. I am shocked at how everything has played out. It is alarming how our law officers and one of the highest government office trusted to protect its citizens has done such unlawful acts. It is scary, dirty and ugly and should not be tolerated. What forces lie behind these acts?

I shall leave the public to judge for themselves. Have we become such monsters??

Milo S. Abello

In the Pacific Islands the ocean is life and we need local and global action to safeguard it for future generations

By Carlotta Leon Guerrero

Wherever in the world you’re reading this we share a backyard—our ocean. In fact, we humans share nothing so completely, or as vast, as the ocean.

Here in the Pacific Islands, the ocean is life. For thousands of years it has provided food, dictated the weather, and served as the transportation system for our people. On Guam, we’re seeing a resurgence in traditional voyaging and sailing, a cultural practice that ties our people and history to the ocean. Enabling this renaissance to reach its full potential requires a healthy marine environment, as wayfinders rely on nature to provide navigational tools—such as birds, fish, and currents—to help them find islands beyond the horizon.

But in the brief span of my lifetime, our ocean has become warmer, more acidified, more polluted, and increasingly devoid of sea life, a deadly combination that threatens the viability of many coastal communities and, in some cases, entire island nations.

Clearly the time to act is now, and the big blinking arrow of scientific evidence points us to a way to responsible ocean stewardship: the creation of marine protected areas that keep full ecosystems intact, such as the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument does in my own ocean backyard. Scientists tell us that these large marine protected areas work. They protect the thousands of creatures that depend on a healthy food web, and they bring more and bigger fish, and have higher biodiversity, than do unprotected areas—thus ensuring ecosystem health and balance. Above all, by protecting our ocean, these areas help build resilience in the face of climate change.

That’s why I have become a Pew Bertarelli Ocean Ambassador, joining other leaders from around the world in a new initiative to advocate for the creation of large marine protected areas as one of the most effective ways to protect and conserve the ocean. All of us in the ambassador program, including co-chairs John Kerry and David Cameron, staunchly believe that a healthy ocean is vital to humankind’s future. 

Protecting the marine environment is not new to Pacific islanders. For millennia, we have recognized when areas have been fished too heavily and set them aside as no-fishing zones until they returned to their former productivity. Across Micronesia, this concept has a few different names: mo in the Marshall Islands, for instance, and bul in Palau.

The Pew Bertarelli Ocean Ambassadors, convened by the Bertarelli Foundation—under the guidance of foundation co-chair Dona Bertarelli—and The Pew Charitable Trusts, serve as ambassadors for ocean conservation and support national efforts to secure and implement marine reserves. While recent years have seen an increase in countries enacting protections, even taken together these measures are well short of what’s needed. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has recommended safeguarding at least 30 percent of the world’s ocean by 2030 in order to reverse negative impacts and sustain long-term ocean health; currently, only 3.6 percent of the ocean has any level of protection, and a mere 1.8 percent is classified as “strongly protected,” according to 2018 data from the U.S.-based non-governmental Marine Conservation Institute.

As an ocean ambassador, I’ll work to protect our marine environment so that someday my grandchildren will look out on her ocean backyard and see that it’s as healthy as it was when I was a little girl. As a global society, we’re very quickly approaching a definitive choice: to either protect this irreplaceable resource or forever forfeit our expectation that it will provide for us. I sincerely hope we have the collective conscience—and the political will—to choose the right course.

Carlotta Leon Guerrero, a native of Guam, is the executive director of the Guam-based Ayuda Foundation and served in the Guam Legislature from 1994 to 2000. 

The article on page 10 of your recent issue “Four arrested in conjunction with illegal dredging in Sokehs” should have read “Four wrongfully arrested for no valid reason at all”

The arrest of Mr. Jose San Nicolas, and his friends Mr. Sohs Abraham, and Mr. Juan San Nicolas was most unfortunate!  And very sad indeed!  The arrest was without probable cause.  The arrest was without a warrant.  The arrest was wrongful. The arrest was illegal.  The search was conducted without probable cause.  The search conducted was without a warrant.  The search was illegal.  The search was scary.  And their confinement in jail was illegal.

As couple of days later, the Pohnpei law enforcement gang, equipped with a search and an arrest warrant arrested Jose San Nicolas, Sohs Abraham, Juan San Nicolas and John Sog.  A couple of days later, the Pohnpei law enforcement gang again raided The San Nicolas business premises.

Pohnpei Public Lands Trust Board of Trustees, Pohnpei State Government Permit No. 059-15, issued its Permit No. 059-15 to Marcia David and Reed David, Jr., on January 12, 2018, as permittee to remove dyke and landfill at Danpei, Sokehs.  Attached herewith is a true and correct copy of Permit No. 059-15.  As a permittee, the Davids entered into a contract with Whitesand Company for the dyke removal and landfill.  Whitesand Company is a local company which engages in sand mining and dredging and is owned by Miko San Nicolas and his nephew, Larry San Nicolas.  Attached herewith are copies of Whitesand Company business license.

VCS Company is a local company which engages in construction, import of construction supplies and operation of a cement block plant in Kolonia.  VCS is owned by Juan San Nicolas.  Attached hereto is a true and correct copy of its business license.  VCS does not engage in sand mining and dredging.

There exists a privity between The Pohnpei Public Trust Board of Trustees, Pohnpei and the permittees, Marcia David  and Reed David, Jr., by virtue of issuance of Permit No. 059-15 to the Davids by the Board of Trustees.  As permittee, the Davids are answerable to the board of trustees for issues or matters pertaining to the terms of the permit.  However, instead of arresting the permittee for an alleged possible violation of the terms of the permit, Pohnpei State law enforcement gang went out and engaged in the often competitive enterprise of ferreting out crimes and illegally arrested Jose San Nicolas, Sohs Abraham, John Jog, and Juan San Nicolas and threw them in jail.

Thus, the wrongful and illegal arrest of Jose San Nicolas has radically re-defined the meaning of the word “Permittee” by introducing additional new elements in its ordinary meaning.  The word “Permittee” now has a new meaning:  One who engages in construction, imports construction supplies, and operates a cement block plant can be considered as “Permittee”, and subject easily to wrongful and illegal arrest by the Pohnpei law enforcement gang.

John Weilbacher

via Larry San Nicolas

Illegal sand mining and dredging

It is reported that illegal sand mining and dredging is the third largest global criminal enterprise behind counterfeiting and drug trafficking.  Illegal sand mining and dredging is ranked higher as a global criminal activity than human trafficking and illegal logging, ranked fourth and fifth respectively.  Air, water and sand are the most consumed natural resources in the world and we are running out of sand because organized criminal syndicates motivated by greed and business profit are illegally harvesting sand all over the world.  Sand is used extensively in construction and is the principal component of concrete, glass, mortar, and brick manufacture.  Sand is used throughout the world to make landfills and construct artificial reefs and has many industrial uses such as in hydraulic fracturing to harvest underground natural gas and in the manufacture of chemicals and plastics.

Sand is not a sustainable resource.  It takes millions of years to make a bed of sand and indiscriminate extraction of the resource has severe environmental and social consequences.  Uncontrolled mining of sand causes erosion, flooding and loss of shorelines.  It is reported that 75% to 80% of the world’s beaches are retreating, in part caused by harvesting sand.  When a large volume of sand is sucked up from the ocean floor waves and currents are impacted and gravity gradually fills in the hole impacting the coast line of adjacent shores.  It is reported that 25 islands in Indonesia have disappeared in part because of illegal sand mining.  Sand is essential to maintain our source of food and its uncontrolled harvest can result in loss of habitat for marine life, loss of biodiversity, and in the long term, impaired food security.

The Pohnpei Legislature amended Chapter 9 of Title 42 of the Pohnpei Code to regulate and control mining and dredging.  The Legislature established a statutory regime to regulate and control all mining and dredging for materials, including coral and sand, on public trust lands and designated the Board of Trustees of the Pohnpei Public Lands Trust as the sole entity to authorize issuance of permits to mine or dredge.  The Board of Trustees and Pohnpei State Government, with a view toward protecting our shorelines from erosion and limiting damage to marine habitat, must serve as stewards of this limited natural resource and be the guardians of our future wellbeing by regulating the mining of sand and dredging of coral, determining the appropriate locations of mining and dredging and restricting the amount of material which can be taken from any one location.

Dana W. Smith 

Guest Perspective: Domestic Violence Act passes after nine years

After a prolonged review and deliberation period, the Ninth Pohnpei State Legislature, in a unanimous vote (20-0) voted in favor of the Domestic Violence Act of 2017. This new law basically established family violence offenses as a separate chapter under the criminal code, provides for emergency protective orders for the victims, and incorporates rehabilitation opportunities for the perpetrators.
Over the years while the Bill sat in Legislature, the Pohnpei Women Council organized lobbying activities and appeared before the Legislature more than once to lend support to the passage of the Bill. In an effort to preempt passage of the Bill, the council took one step further and renovated an old government building to use for response and intervention services to victims of family violence. Now that the law is finally in place, it’s time to operationalize the delivery of that service.
Former Senator Magdalena Walter worked tirelessly to get her colleagues to come on board, so special acknowledgment of that work is proper and timely. The Pohnpeian students who came down from University of Guam to testify before the Committee did an excellent job of sharing their stories and a huge “Kalahngan” is extended to every one of them. The Association of Pacific Island Legislatures (APIL), back in 2011, passed a resolution urging passage of the Bill by the PSL. The foreign missions based in FSM, especially the Australian Mission, have consistently urged individual senators to support the Bill. At one point or another, during the past nine years, people in various capacities have expressed strong support for the Bill. Thank you all very much.
In 2013, when Kosrae State Legislature passed their Family Protection law, there was much confidence that the momentum would spill across the ocean to the PSL to follow suit, but unfortunately, there were still outstanding concerns regarding certain provisions in the Bill. According to the coconut wireless, the perceived conflict this law would have on Pohnpeian custom was a dominant factor in the delay of its’ passage.
Then right after Kosrae State passed its law, the UNFPA came into FSM and carried out a Family Health and Safety Study which revealed what was already known by many that violence against women exists in FSM (32.8%). In the final Standing Committee Report, it was the definition of the Discipline of Children that remained a concern so that was changed to align with the Constitution and Pohnpeian traditions. It should be noted here that Art. 5, s. 2 of the Pohnpeian Constitution clearly provides that where a statute is in conflict with Pohnpeian customs, the Legislature shall enact a new law to uphold that particular custom. The protection of Pohnpeian custom is therefore still paramount in this regard.
November 7, 2017 will go down in the history of Pohnpei as a particularly important day because of the passage of this new law establishing family violence as a criminal offense. At the end of the day, it is you, the Senators of the Ninth Pohnpei Legislature that made it all possible because you cast your affirmative vote on that day. Kaping lap oh mwuledek pwehki doadoahk eh pweidahr.
Now, onto enforcement!!!
Marstella E. Jack