By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

July 6, 2018

Federated States of Micronesia—Yap lost more than half of the “hotel rooms” it had planned on for the Micro Games when the “Forever Lucky”, owned and operated by Fahrenheit Company, Limited of Subic Bay, Philippines was detained in Bhataan, PI while sailing to the FSM.  The Yap government had signed an MOU with the company to provide rooms and catering services for the games.  The vessel claims to have 146 cabins including deluxe single, deluxe double and executive suites but at press time, that vessel is not likely to arrive.

According to multiple news sources, Philippine authorities detained the vessel when it got a tip from a foreign law enforcement source that the Forever Lucky might be involved in a human smuggling scheme.  When they boarded the vessel, they found 139 people aboard who, news sources say, were not on the manifest and did not have proper documentation for the journey or authorizations to work outside of the Philippines.

Some news sources say that the majority of the 139 victims of human smuggling were sent home and others are awaiting travel arrangements.  Without a staff, it appears that even if Philippine authorities were to release the “Forever Lucky” to sail to Yap, it wouldn’t be able to do the work.

One news source says that the CEO of Fahrenheit has denied wrongdoing and is cooperating with investigators.

Initial news sources in Manila said that the company was accused of “human trafficking”. Others say that investigations are continuing into allegations of that crime.  From the descriptions of the ongoing situation, the crime being investigated in the majority of the cases is “human smuggling”, an altogether different crime from human trafficking.

On Wednesday, the Yap State Government issued a short statement.  “The State of Yap has a two-month Memorandum of Agreement with Fahrenheit, Ltd. to provide extra rooms on the Forever Lucky ship during the 2018 Micro Games and to provide food and catering services for the athletes and coaches who will be participating in the event on July 15-27, 2018. The Micro Games Organizing Committee, a separate entity, met in an emergency session on July 4 to review options and is expected to make an announcement by Friday.”

Several hours after the Yap government had closed its business day on the announced day for the statement, the government had issued no statement whatsoever regarding any alternative plans they may or may not have established prior to the detention of the “Forever Lucky”.  By Saturday there still was no word from the Yap government.  Sources in Yap say that the government and the Micro Games Organizing Committee had been in an emergency session on Friday morning but no outcomes of that meeting have been released.

CaptureMembers of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures (APIL) met in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, June 26-28 for its 37th General Assembly, to discuss issues on Climate change policies, mitigation and adaptation.  The opening of the Conference took place at the Pohnpei States Legislature’s Chamber in Kolonia. Pohnpei State Lieutenant Governor, Hon. Reed Oliver welcomed the APIL delegates and expressed his support of the work of APIL in the areas on regional collaboration and cooperation.  His Excellency Robert A. Riley III, US Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia, gave the key note speech where he spoke on climate change mitigation and adaptation programs available under US Aid and other programs under the United States Government and its agencies. The APIL President, Hon. Vice-Speaker Robert I Taulung, welcomed everyone and reiterated in his remarks that our Island nations are on the front lines of global climate change. Heavy rainfall and rising sea levels are eroding shorelines and causing flooding. Warming and increasingly acidic oceans are damaging coral reefs that support fisheries for our sustainable use and attract tourists. At this meeting the APIL members will continue to discuss these important climate change mitigation and adaptation issues and recommend ways in which each APIL member jurisdiction can direct its efforts and advocate for policies and projects that will benefit the constituencies they serve.

APIL expresses its appreciation to the climate change experts and presenters who presented on the theme:  Mr. Asterio Takesy, Vice President- Bank of Guam spoke on “Climate Change: How policy makers in the Pacific region can be the solution and how do we link the business sectors in the equation”. Mr. William Kostka, Executive Director, Micronesia Conservation Trust,  presented on “Green Climate Fund (GCF): Possible funding resource for climate change mitigation and adaptation.” And Maybelline Andon-Bing, Secretary –Ministry of Finance, RMI presented on:“Climate Change and Adaptation programs and projects in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.” These presentations were very informative to the members and we again thank the presenters for their time and tremendous contribution to the General Assembly.  “APIL will focus on gaining the needed support and collaboration from our regional policy makers to improve and provide regional climate change mitigation and adaptation networks throughout our island communities”, said APIL President, Vice Speaker Taulung.

During the final day of the sessions, the members of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures (APIL) unanimously elected Speaker Fernando Scaliem to serve as the President of APIL for the 2018-2019 Term.

“I believe that regional collaboration is key to addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation and we need to network closely with our Pacific island neighbors” said Scaliem.

Under his leadership, Scaliem will work to ensure that a reasonable and actionable strategic plan is established and acted upon by the APIL. Scaliem made a commitment to work closely with regional chief executives to ensure that policies established by the association are supported and implemented by the APIL member state presidents and territory governors. “The prosperity and long term security of our Pacific people requires that executive and legislative branches of government cooperate.” said Scaliem.

Other officers and leadership positions for APIL’s 2018-2019 Term are:  Chuuk State Senator and Floor Leader, Hon. Nelson Stephen was elected to serve as the organization’s Vice President; Northern Marianas Commonwealth Legislature’s former Speaker, Hon. Joseph Deleon Guerrero was elected as Secretary and for the first time for this member entity to serve on the APIL leadership, Hon. Kaure Babo, M.P. from the Parliament of Kiribati gained the position as Treasurer of APIL.

The members of APIL, during its 37th General Assembly, adopted nineteen resolutions and they are as follows:APIL Resolution No 37-GA-01

“Conveying the deepest sympathy and earnest condolences of the APIL on the passing of one of FSM’s foremost leaders, the late Honorable President Leo A. Falcam.”APIL Resolution No 37-GA-02

“Committing the APIL to continue the legacy of His Excellency the late Tony A. deBrum through solidarity and unity to combat the overwhelming impacts of climate change.”

The resolutions that APIL passed are below:

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

July 4, 2018

Pohnpei—Pohnpei’s Office of the Public Auditor (OPA) recently released an audit on Infrastructure Maintenance Funds for fiscal years 2012 through 2016 that pointed out a number of examples of non-compliance with law and negligent accounting practices.

The Infrastructure Maintenance Fund (IMF) is established under the Compact of Free Association with the United States.  Each year the US and the FSM allocate 5 percent of the annual public infrastructure grants to the IMF.  During the years that OPA audited, the US and Pohnpei each contributed $1,571,646 to the fund for a total of $3,143,292.  The IMF is for the upkeep and maintenance of the Pohnpei Government’s capital infrastructure facilities and related assets in accordance with the government Infrastructure Maintenance Plan.  The Pohnpei State Legislature must appropriate the money for specific projects before they can be used.

OPA says that between 2012 and 2016, $1,311,942.80 of IMF monies was used for 29 projects that were not submitted to the legislature for specific approval.

In his response, Jack Yakana, Administrator of the Office of Transportation and Infrastructure wrote that the office notified “all concerned” including the Pohnpei Legislature that IMF project funds for 2015, 2016, and 2017 had not been appropriated during the course of their implementation of the IMF projects that had earlier been approved by the Office of Insular Affairs for those fiscal years.  He says that those project funds were eventually appropriated under the Comprehensive Budget Act for Fiscal Year 2017.

OPA did not audit 2017.  There were 17 projects funded in 2015 and 2016.

“Without the required due process, the corresponding infrastructure maintenance funds of more than $1.3 million were expended improperly.

Pohnpei Department of Treasury and Administration did not respond to the audit.

The audit said that the Pohnpei IMF savings account was not properly managed.  It said that the account was not properly managed, reconciled and monitored to ensure that only authorized and appropriate transactions are processed through the account.  It provided a chart of transactions totaling $450,000 that it said could be misconstrued as having been spent for purposes that were not in line with the purpose for which the account was created.

The audit report said that additionally, the total amount of the IMF account at September 30, 2012 reflected in the State Finance schedule did not match the bank balance by more than $180,000.

The report found that the $32,350 of State contributions to the IMF that was used to pay for the costs of a change order for the completion of a new gymnasium funded under a different grant was an unauthorized use of IMF funds.

The audit said that there was a lack of proper supervisory review and monitoring.  It said that if found that certain adjusting entries made to two contracts affect the total contract price.  I also noted that $3,342 of the IMF account was used to pay laborers renovating the State Hospital.  The payment was approved by the Office of Insular Affairs to be reimbursed on a later date by OIA.  That amount has yet to be reimbursed by OIA.

The auditors also found poor maintenance and safeguarding of pertinent records and documents.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

July 4, 2018

Federated States of Micronesia—For the fifth year in a row, the United States Department of State has ranked the FSM at Tier 2 in their Trafficking in Person report.  The report evaluates the efforts of countries worldwide to eliminate human trafficking.  Human trafficking is the exploitation of people through coercion and does not necessarily involve the movement of a person from one place to another.  It is involuntary servitude.

The Tier 2 evaluation means that the FSM does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.  The report said that the government demonstrated increasing effort by convicting two traffickers, increasing anti-trafficking training among judicial officials and students, and establishing and staffing a national hotline.

“Despite these efforts, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas.  Courts issued weak sentences to convicted traffickers and authorities did not follow an established procedure to identify victims among vulnerable populations or refer them to protective services, which remained undeveloped and under-resourced,” the report said.

The report recommended that FSM should consider eliminating provisions in its human trafficking laws that allow for fines in lieu of imprisonment.  It pointed out that in the one prosecution of two human traffickers, one was sentenced to a $5000 fine and only weekend jail time.  That convicted felon didn’t even serve his entire sentence and was allowed by the court to leave the country when his work contract expired. The other trafficker, the parent of the victim received probation for 15 months with no fine.  The report said that the prescribed penalties for human trafficking are sufficiently stringent with possible jail terms of up to 30 years, but by allowing for a fine or other greatly decreased sentence, the value of deterrence is greatly diminished.

The FSM continues to prosecute human trafficking cases.  In early August, four men in Chuuk who were convicted of Human Trafficking are set to be sentenced in the FSM Supreme Court for their crimes.  It remains to be seen and will be up to the court whether the men will receive sentences that are more in line with the apparent deterrent intent of the law than previous sentences that were handed down.

The report also made recommendations for protection of Human Trafficking victims and for prevention of the crime.

The Government of Japan has decidedThe Government of Japan has decided to begin issuance of multiple entry visas for short-term stay to nationals of Pacific Islands Countries including the FSM (ordinary passport holders) from August 1st, 2018.

This decision was announced at the 8th Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM8) on May 18th to19th of this year in Fukushima, Japan. Dialogue shall come into effect for applications submitted on or after August 1st.

The multiple entry visas will be issued at all the Japanese Embassies and Consulate Generals.

It is expected that this will help increase the number of each countries tourists to Japan and improve convenience in business activities, thus further developing bilateral exchanges between Japan and Pacific Islands Countries.

Multiple entry visas for short-term stay for nationals of Pacific Islands Countries (ordinary passport holders)

Recipient: Those who have fulfilled certain conditions and who have anordinary Machine-Readable passport(MRP) in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)standards

Period of stay: 30days 

Terms of validity: Up to three years

Where to apply: Any Embassy / ConsulateGeneral / Consulate of Japan in any country.

Note: The details including the specificapplication documents will be informedon the Japanese Embassy’s website.

Capture3

U.S. Department of the Interior

WASHINGTON – Doug Domenech, U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, this week announced $250,314 in FY 2018 funding support for the Micronesian Resource Center (MRC) One-Stop Shop on Guam.  The MRC One-Stop Shop provides orientation services, family support initiatives, and workforce development to migrants from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), and the Republic of Palau (Palau), also known as the freely associated states (FAS), who may travel to the United States to live and work under the Compact of Free Association agreements.

“This Office of Insular Affairs initiative is intended to help provide initial support to FAS families and the government of Guam as they struggle to meet costs related to providing public services,” said Domenech.  “It is important for communities on Guam to take the lead in finding solutions and we are encouraging the Micronesian Resource Center to become its own self-sufficient 501(c)(3) program so that it may continue serving and strengthening Micronesian children and families on Guam for the future.”

Now in their third year, the Micronesian Resource Center One-Stop Shop will receive $250,314 to continue to improve assessment of services and make meaningful impacts in new migrant orientation services, workforce development and employment services, and family support initiatives.  At the end of 2017, the MRC One-Stop Shop served more than 3,000 individuals on Guam. 

The MRC One-Stop Shop has built many important relationships in the community with Guam and federal government agencies, the Guam Mayor’s Council, local faith-based organizations, academic institutions, and other non-government organizations such as the Guam Homeless Council.  They serve on a task force spearheaded by Guam’s Governor to address social issues in a high-risk neighborhood known as Hemlani Apartments and recently completed a cleanup project Adahi I Tano with support from Matson Inc.  Every August, they host a fundraising 5K run, One Healthy Micronesia, which has attracted over 300 runners from a broad demographic.  The next 5k run is August 11, 2018.  Just last month, in a Guam Pacific Daily News, June 23, 2018, article, “Hiring FAS Citizens Challenge GPD”, the MRC was highlighted for its efforts to help the Guam Police Department recruit FAS individuals for the local police force.

The MRC recently relocated from their old location in Yona to a more central location at 272 E. Harmon Industrial Park Road, Unit 106, Tamuning, Guam.  In the past month at the new location, they have received more foot traffic than in a six-month period at the old office location.  The organization also does home visits and has logged in thousands of miles using the traveling office known affectionately as the Mobil Access to Information Van or “M.A.I.” Van (see picture).  “Mai” and its homonyms across the Micronesian languages mean breadfruit, an important staple crop across Micronesia.

A similar initiative supported through the Office of Insular Affairs is the We are Oceania (WAO) Hālau Ola One Stop Center in Hawai’i which also received FY 2018 funding support and serves communities in Hawai’i.  Both programs were created as a way to empower Micronesians on Guam and Hawaii to help the respective Governments of Guam and Hawai’s address and mitigate impacts of FAS migrants on social services.

Capture2Pohnpei-On June 22, 2018, the Pohnpei Office of the Public Auditor (POPA) conducted a fraud awareness workshop for the 2018 FSM Police Academy participants at their camp site, the Saladak Elementary School in U. The event was conducted as part of POPA’s Community Outreach Program in promoting public awareness of fraud and corruption in the public sector and how they can be prevented. In the past four years, POPA has received and investigated thirty-six (36) cases involving abuse, fraud, misuse, mismanagement, mishandling and misappropriation of public resources. Eleven (11) of the 36 cases received and investigated are now filed and prosecuted in the Pohnpei Supreme Court.  Some were referred to the appropriate management for administrative action, including but not limited to suspension, termination or restitution of monies and related resource gone missing. Other complaints received were unfounded. The Fraud Awareness Workshop was delivered by Ms. Sophia Pretrick, Investigative Advisor, Ms. Alice Etse, Audit Manager, and Iso Ihlen K. Joseph, Pohnpei State Auditor.

US Embassy in the FSM

and Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

July 4, 2018

IMG 9653Pohnpei--Every year the U.S. Embassy in Kolonia celebrates the Independence of the United States of America. This year the Embassy celebrated with the theme of “Friends In Freedom”, joined by many community leaders from the National and State Governments, American citizens, U.S. veterans and members of the Diplomatic Corps.

“242 years ago, 13 colonies came together in union to declare their independence, and eventually became the United States of America. Similarly, the islands of the FSM are stronger together; in unity of purpose, they provide security and opportunity for future generations. And our two nations will work together as Friends in Freedom to protect that future by tackling the challenges that we face in fostering sustainable economic development, combatting climate change, and enhancing maritime security, as well as the many other tests that will come our way.” –Ambassador Robert Riley, US Ambassador to the FSM.

The Embassy provided hot dogs and hamburgers along with an excellent chili.  They also provided American beer and wine along with lemonadeIMG 9594 and soft drinks.  Participants could get their faces painted or have their photo taken alongside a stand up cardboard likeness of US President Donald Trump.  Children also participated in a chalk art contest.  Near the end of the three hour event, prizes were awarded in several age categories for the winners of that contest.

Anthony Alexander, the US Embassy’s Economic and Consular Officer served as the Master of Ceremonies, and Pastor Epel Ilon provided the opening prayer.  Men from Youth for a Change performed the FSM and US National anthems.  Following Ambassador Riley’s speech, Secretary Lorin Robert of the FSM Department of Foreign Affairs was the next to speak followed by Pohnpei State Lt. Governor Reed Oliver.

US Deputy Chief of Mission, Theodore S. Pierce provided closing remarks for the evening as the sun set.

IMG 9619

Entertainers for the event were Disc Jockey Chris Johnson and rock band “Wetter Than Seattle”.

The program for the event listed a large number of volunteers as well as a list of donors who made the event possible which were Ace Office Supplies, Bank of Guam, Blue Nile, Etscheit Enterprises, Food Linx, Kolonia Town Police, Mike Veti, Pohnpei Ace Hardware, Pohnpei State Public Safety, United Airlines, and U.S. Agencies.

Conservation Society of Pohnpei

June 29, 2018

IMG 1012Pohnpei—On June 11th, 2018, the Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP) was copied in a letter to the Association of Pacific Island Legislators’ (APIL) President, Honorable Robert I. Taulung from the Palau delegation to the 37th General Assembly held in Pohnpei. The intention of the letter was to inform APIL that the Palau delegation wished to take a different approach for their traditional gift exchange.

Despite the usual physical gifts that typically represent respective cultures and traditions, the Palau delegation decided to entertain the association and the host state of Pohnpei by providing two of Palau’s top musicians to preserve local performance arts.  The Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP) was fortunate to partner with the Palau delegation to host a benefit concert to help raise funds to support local climate change initiatives in the communities of Pohnpei. The concert was held at the Kolonia-China Friendship Center with a lot of fun activities and raffle prizes for the lucky winners.

CSP wishes to thank the Palau delegation and the fantastic musicians (Kelau Remelik and Fredrick Olsudong) for such unique partnership.

The benefit concert for climate change would not have been possible without the support of the following individuals, businesses and agencies:  CSP Board of Directors, Pohnpei Hardware, Imelda’s Shoe Store, LP Gas, Seven Stars, Ace Office Supplies, Pohnpei Water Company, Australian Embassy, FSM Development Bank, Black Sand Inc., Palm Terrace Inc., Dr. Padwick Gallen, KOA Builders (Roy & Lindsay Lowe), Panuelo Gas Station, XIX Store, Pohnpei Port Authority, Pohnpei Surf Club, FSM Telecommunications Corporation, Hideaway Hotel, Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT), US Peace Corps, FSM Small Grants Program (SGP), Namiko Oliver, Catholic Mission, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Kolonia Town Government, VCS., Mr. Eugene Pangelinan, The College of Micronesia-FSM, Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, Dr. Brian Isaac and Family, Chris Johnson, Bill Jaynes.

Reaffirms U.S.-FSM Compact partnership continues and endures beyond 2023

POHNPEI, MICRONESIA-- U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular and International Affairs Doug Domenech today concluded his official visit to Pohnpei, the capital of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), where he conferred with President Peter M. Christian on the continuation and strengthening of the U.S.-FSM relationship under the Compact of Free Association.  While at the national government capital complex in Palikir, Domenech also met with Speaker of the FSM Congress Wesley Simina, Vice Speaker Esmond Moses, other senators and staff.  Accompanying the assistant secretary were Nikolao Pula Director of the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) also Chair of the Joint Economic Management Committee (JEMCO) and OIA staff.

 “On behalf of U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, I am here to celebrate the U.S. longtime friendship with the people of the Federated States of Micronesia,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech.  “The U.S. and the FSM embarked on this journey together many years ago following World War II.  Since then the FSM has transitioned from trusteeship to self-governance in 1986, and will transition again in 2023 from direct grant funding assistance to trust fund distributions,” he continued.  “The U.S. and FSM will continue to work towards the mutual goals under the Compact of Free Association to promote economic advancement, budgetary self-reliance, and economic self-sufficiency,” Domenech added.

Before beginning site visits and other meetings throughout the island, Assistant Secretary Domenech paid a courtesy call on Pohnpei State Governor Marcelo Peterson and Lt. Governor Oliver Reed.  He toured a Compact-funded building at Nett elementary school with Pohnpei State Director of Education Churchill Edward and Vice Principal Maxson Mallarme.  Assistant Secretary appreciated the strong support of the Parent Teacher Association at Nett elementary school as a model for schools on Pohnpei.

Domenech toured the Nanpohnnmal power plant and met with Nixon Anson Pohnpei Utilities Corporate General Manager and staff regarding the current problems on-island with power generation and the need for maintenance funding.  The Assistant Secretary visited the International Organization for Migration to learn more about emergency disaster assistance in Pohnpei and the FSM, and the Micronesia Registration Advisors on the FSM captive insurance domicile. 

Domenech took a boat ride through the Sokehs Dau mangrove channel with Willy Kostka of Micronesia Conservation Trust and other natural resource conservation leaders to learn about mangrove ecosystems and their vital role in food security and protection from storms.  Domenech visited Nan Madol Ruins, guided by FSM and Pohnpei State Historic Preservation Officers Gus Kohler and Jason Lebehn, following which he drove through the former campus of the Pohnpei Agricultural and Trade School and went to the Kepirohi waterfall.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

June 20, 2018

Pohnpei—On June 8, McGarry Miguel, Floor Leader of the Pohnpei State Legislature introduced a 45 page “by request bill” from Pohnpei’s Executive Branch for a “‘Micronesian Tourism Omnibus Development Statute of 2018’ to provide for and to regulate an integrated resort casino complex for the State of Pohnpei…” (L.B. 332-18)

The bill has merely been introduced and has been assigned to the Standing Committees on Resources and Development, Land, and Finance for hearings.  The bill could undergo substantial changes by the time it hits the floor for first and second readings.

Pohnpei, like most other states in the Federated States of Micronesia is scrambling to develop new sources of revenue to replace U.S. Compact funds that have been on a declining scale to zero in 2023.  At that time, Compact funding will switch to the interest from a trust fund that has not performed up to originally planned expectations.  It won’t be enough unless FSM states can find other revenue sources.

According to the General Provisions section in the tourism bill, the creation of a resort and casino is an important part of an overall strategy to ensure the state’s economic growth.  It says that during the development phase a resort casino would result in significant construction jobs and construction related spending in Pohnpei.  Once constructed, a resort casino would create new jobs for residents of Pohnpei and offer a wide array of employment opportunities for individuals with diverse educational backgrounds and skills.  Revenue generated could be used to fund critical needs in Pohnpei including investments and upgrades to roads and bridges, and other transportation infrastructure.  It claims that the additional revenues could also be used to offset the tax burden on existing businesses.

It says that since addressing the social costs of gaming is an important and necessary part of any comprehensive casino plan, the act envisions a high level of funding for public safety and a rigorous gaming regulatory and enforcement scheme.  “The resort casino must therefore be controlled to protect the public health, safety, and well being of the inhabitants of Pohnpei; to foster the stability and success of gaming and to preserve the competitive economy of Pohnpei.

On January 18, 2018, Senator Stevick Edwin introduced a bill calling on the Governor to submit a draft omnibus bill for a tourism complex that could include a casino.  The bill would have authorized the Director of the Department of Resources and Development to issue a call for submissions of notices of interest to potential investors to develop a casino/resort complex in the state of Pohnpei through a means that the director finds will effectively reach the largest number of potential investors but only after an omnibus bill is considered and passed.

That bill has seen no legislative action and now seems to be moot since the new tourism omnibus bill has incorporated most, if not all of the wording of Edwin’s bill.

Canton Construction Corporation of Guam has expressed interest in developing a resort and casino on land it would reclaim east of the Dekehtik causeway and south of the airport and has been communicating with government leaders about the idea since at least some time last year. 

Their proposal has not yet risen to the level described in the omnibus bill for a full-fledged investment proposal but the basic proposal says that it intends to train locals to be the management team and estimates that the total increase of employment would be 1000 new jobs on Pohnpei.  It says that it would also try to bring in new airlines to the island to support the tourist arrival and local logistics problem.  It roughly estimates that the annual increase of Pohnpei’s tax revenues from the casino would be $20 to $30 million plus the potential for expansion of support businesses not directly related to the resort.

It say it intends to target customers from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and Europe and has plans to create a sort of fantasy experience for its customers including boat rides, parasailing, water slides, sky diving, and cultural shows.  It would offer excursion tours to Nan Madol, Kepirohi, and Lididuniap waterfalls, as well as to Sokehs Rock.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

June 6, 2018

Chuuk—Several defendants have pled guilty and have been sentenced for crimes connected, even if after the fact with the October 12, 2017 break in and theft at the Chuuk headquarters of the FSM National Police during which firearms and ammunition, along with other items were stolen.

Quinity Elimo pled guilty to unauthorized removal of government proper and to illegal possession of a firearm.  He was sentenced to one year for each count to be served concurrently, all suspended except for 30 days that will be served for ten consecutive weeks.  He will be required to report to jail by 6:00 p.m. each Sunday starting on June 10, and will be released at 7:00 a.m. the following Wednesday.

Limo Elimo was convicted after he pled guilty to possession of a firearm without a valid permit and on his plea of guilty to use of an illegal firearm.  Counts 1 to 6, and 8 and 9 of the charges filed against him were dismissed by a national government motion.  He was sentenced to two years for each count to be served concurrently, which with credit for any time served will be served on consecutive weekends by reporting to jail by 5:00 p.m., Friday June 15, and every Friday thereafter by the same time and released by Monday, June 18 at 8:00 a.m., and every Monday morning until the 180 days have been served.

Jesse Meffy pled guilty to illegal possession of a handgun and was sentenced to one year in jail, all but 30 days of that suspended.  He is to serve his jail time on 10 consecutive weekends beginning at 5:00 p.m. on June 8 to be released at 8:00 a.m. Monday mornings until his sentence is served.  The remainder of his sentence will be served on probation.

David Willy pled guilty to illegal possession of a handgun.  Three other charges against him were dropped.  He received a sentence of one year which was suspended except for 30 days that will be served on 15 consecutive weekends.  He will need to report the jail on each Saturday, starting June 9, to be released at 8:00 a.m. on the following Monday.

IMG 0124June 14, 2018

Thursday, many gathered at the PICS gymnasium for a lovely farewell lunch for the students chosen to represent Pohnpei overseas in Japan.

Every year, twelve honourable students are chosen from different schools around Pohnpei for a twelve day exchange program in Japan. Students are chosen based on their; grade point average (GPA), good behaviour and all-round student performance. The students’ ages range from as young as ten and up to fourteen. They will be accompanied by their chaperones; Teacher of the Year, Kamleen Sam and Youth Coordinator, George Donre.

The exchange program is sponsored by Japan to strengthen international relationships and foster cultural exchange between Japan and the Pacific. Also attending the exchange program will be students from Chuuk, Kosrae, Yap, the Marshall Islands and Palau. Each group will perform five minute traditional dance in a celebration of their culture.

Japan has hosted this annual exchange program since 2002. It is a great opportunity and privilege for the students to be representing their state.

A crowd of proud families and friends turned up for the event. It is a great chance for Pohnpei to represent itself as a state of Micronesia in a foreign place.

Attending the showcase was the Honorable Lt. Governor Reed B.Oliver, Director of Health and social Services; Director Kapilly Capelle, Acting Chief of social services; Lululeen Santos, Student Services Specialist representing the Department of Education; Mr Dioplus Dioplus, family members and the general public.

The representatives made remarks about the honour they had for the students embarking on this journey.

After the speeches the students presented their synchronised performance for the guests with great pride.

The students looked very excited to be embarking on their journey departing this Saturday via Guam. For many this will be their first time in Japan and they are looking forward to the new cultural experience.

The twelve students travelling to Japan are; Maliza Mauricio, Sean Troy Moses, Trisha Casey Joab, Vemica Paula David, Ginero Primo, De Angelo Williams, Melessa Jonathan, Jenna Helieisar, Sidney Kilmete Jr., PJ Helgen, LeeRon Johnny Silbanuz, and Carlamae Raynor.

Good luck to all the students and have fun!

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

June 11, 2018

FSM—Four men, officers of a church in Patta, Chuuk have been convicted of one charge each of Trafficking in Children after each of them had sex with a young girl of 14 or 15 at the time of their crimes.

Onsori Sino, Kachura Angken, Taisiro Loves, and Lucky Shiro each face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and or a fine of not less than $5000 but not more than $50,000.  However, a Supreme Court Associate Justice previously handed down significantly lighter sentences to two people convicted of human trafficking crimes in Chuuk.

The convicted felons are due to be sentenced by the FSM Supreme Court on August 8 at 9:30 in the morning at the FSM Supreme Court in Chuuk.  The sentencing hearing is open to the public.

Chief Justice Dennis Yamase is presiding in this case. 

Prosecutors proved to the court that the young victim’s claim that in September of 2015 Sino had sex with her in exchange for marijuana were true.  The criminal information on the case said that on that day, the victim had been sent by her mother to buy disposable diapers.  Shiro followed the victim and urged the victim to allow Shiro’s daughter to buy the diapers for her so that she could go to his house with him.  After the act, witnesses saw the two leaving Shiro’s house.

Kachura Angken was convicted based on evidence presented by the prosecutors along with the victim’s testimony that in October 2015 he solicited a minor to have sex with him in his taro patch for the sum of $15.

Tasiro Loves was convicted on testimony of the victim, other evidence place before the Court, and arguments of counsel.  In 2015, lured the victim to a home belonging to another person on Patta and induced the minor to have sexual intercourse with him for $2.00.

Lucky Shiro was convicted of having had sex with the victim for a promised sum of two dollars that he apparently didn’t have the cash to pay after the act was completed.

Each of the defendants was accused of multiple counts of the crime of Trafficking in Children for sex acts they allegedly committed in separate acts for tiny sums of money.  The Court found them guilty of only one count each.

The government had contended that the defendants had shared with each other the vulnerability of the victim and that each then acted on his own to exploit it. The Court did not find that the prosecution had presented enough evidence to prove a charge of conspiracy to commit trafficking against children. 

Sentencing will be on August 8, 2018 at 9:30 in the morning.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

June 12, 2018

Pohnpei—After four years, the FSM Supreme Court has sided with MiCare for denying coverage to a man who injured himself while intoxicated.

FSM Supreme Court Associate Justice Beauleen Carl-Worswick decided the case on June 7, 2018 and her Finding of Fact and Conclusions of Law were entered on June 12.  The original complaint was filed in the court on February 5, 2014.  The causes of action were an appeal of a decision of an administrative agency, violations of regulations, breach of contract, due process, equal protection, civil rights violations, declaratory and injunctive relief, and breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealings.

The finding of facts says that on the evening of his injury on March 22, 2013, the plaintiff and another man consumed two five dollar bottles of sakau, a bottle of 80 proof vodka, one beer, and an unidentified mixed drink.  At trial in February of this year, the plaintiff admitted that he was intoxicated.

While on his way home after consuming the alcohol and sakau, the man stopped in Metipw, U to relieve himself.  While standing on a ridge on the side of a river, he fell, sustaining serious injuries that meant that he can no longer climb or run, and he now walks with a permanent limp.

The physician who attended him at Pohnpei State Hospital Emergency Room said that the man sustained a severe cut on his forehead, looked drowsy and appeared to be intoxicated.  Pohnpei State Hospital recommended that he receive further treatment in the Philippines.

MiCare denied coverage for the referral.  The man appealed the decision and after an administrative review in August of 2013, the MiCare board upheld the rejection.  In February of 2014, the plaintiff filed his petition with the FSM Supreme Court.

The Court’s Conclusions of Law quoted Section 7.3 of the MiCare Regulations that lists excluded medical conditions that are not eligible for medical insurance coverage.  Section 7.3 (r) excludes, “treatment of injuries which are attributable to the member’s own misconduct, negligence, intemperate use of drugs or alcohol, direct participation in the commission of a crime, violation of law or ordinance, and unnecessary exposure to health hazards.”

At trial, the plaintiff admitted that he was “sakaula”.  That combined with the fact that although no blood or alcohol test was performed on the night of the plaintiff’s injury, the attending physician who treated him testified that he was drunk.

The court also considered whether the plaintiff would have fallen from the ridge had he not been intoxicated.  But though the plaintiff argued during closing statements that he might have fallen whether he was intoxicated or not, the matter was never raised in the plaintiff’s “case in chief”.  “Had the plaintiff proven that a reasonable or ordinary non-intoxicated person would have fell at the same location, then alcohol would not be a contributing factor to the fall, and MiCare would be obligated to provide coverage,” the ruling said.

The court dismissed all of the plaintiff’s claims.

Pages from final pdf 2We are very happy to announce that the book “Pohnpei: Pwuken Kadaudok” (Volume 1) has just been published! This book was initially planned by Peterson Sam, one of the Directors and Co-Founders of Kousapw Roasdi, a Pohnpei based NGO. The idea was inspired by his initiation in forming a group or forum on Facebook called “LEPINKAHS / LEPINMAHSEN” (currently 1,557 members), where people discuss about Pohnpeian oral heritage such as proverbs (lepinkahs) and archaic expressions (lepin mahsen). Takuya Nagaoka, Executive Director of NGO Pasifika Renaissance, who has been involved in cultural preservation and revitalization on Pohnpei for two decades, had assisted the whole process of this Kousapw Roasdi's endeavor since 2016, from securing a grant to serving as an editor of the book.

This book is intended to preserve Pohnpei's disappearing oral traditions and traditional culture. It is written in the Pohnpeian language and includes proverbs, archaic expressions, chants (ngihs), legendary tales (soaipoad), and other knowledge (e.g., Pilepilenpwong, Pilerehre, customs related to sakau). It is for Pohnpeian children and adults, on Pohnpei and overseas and is meant to enhance cultural pride and empower communities.

You can download a free copy in PDF and Kindle formats from https://goo.gl/gng6SL. A paperback book is also available for purchasing in Amazon.com (https://goo.gl/c19drS) for $5.38 (please note the author will not receive any royalty from the sales of the book). This project was funded by the Pacific Development and Conservation Trust (established by the New Zealand Government).

We hope to continue to working on new volumes to cover other important topics in crucial need of preservation for future generations and would like to thank all the people who supported the project.

 MG 0442 EditBy Pohnpei Fishing Club

June 9, 2018

Pohnpei—The Vital Fishing Tournament, co-sponsored by Nauru Airlines attracted a record number of boats for any Pohnpei Fishing Tournament in its 25 years of existence.  46 boat owners and their crews signed up for the tournament during which many big fish were landed including four qualifying marlin.  Eleven Yellow Fin tuna, all over 60 pounds placed for prizes in the tournament.

Vital’s (Micronesia Petroleum Corporation) fuel vouchers for all participating boats and the possibility of scoring round trip tickets on Nauru Airlines were the big draws for anglers.  Colorful fluorescent yellow Vital T-Shirts provided to each angler were added draws.

In the “Big Fish” category, Mary Tretnoff scored a huge marlin at 329 pounds and took the top prize of a round trip ticket on Nauru Airlines and $200 in fuel vouchers from Vital.

Shambhu Prasad also landed a good sized marlin at 178.5 pounds.  That catch earned him the second place prize of a round trip ticket on Nauru Airlines and $100 in fuel vouchers from Vital. MG 0355

Third place in the big fish category again went to Mary Tretnoff with another marlin of 171 pounds.  She earned another $240 fuel voucher for that catch.

Rodney Phillip earned a $220 fuel voucher for his fourth place catch of a 110.5 pound marlin.

Hilarko David won the fifth place prize of a $200 fuel voucher for his monster 92 pound yellowfin tuna. tuna.

Daunte Peterson was just behind scoring a $180 fuel voucher for a 91 pound yellowfin tuna.

Mary Tretnoff also took seventh and 9thth places for 87 pound and 81 pound yellowfin tunas.  She took home $160 and $120 fuel vouchers for those catches.

In between, at eighth place Westcott Panuelo won a $140 fuel voucher for his 86 pound yellowfin tuna.

Oliver Hawley caught the 10th biggest fish, a 76.5 pound yellowfin tuna for a prize of a $100 fuel voucher.

The top two lady angler prizes for fish that had not been awarded another prize went to Mary Tretnoff for yet another large yellowfin tuna at 72 pounds.  She earned a $100 fuel voucher for that catch. The second place lady angler prize of a $40 fuel voucher went to Gina Becker for a 68 pound yellowfin tuna.

 MG 0200Falcam Hadley and Isaiah Hawley won the top two junior angler prizes of $100 and $40 fuel vouchers for their catches of a 64.5 pound yellowfin tuna and a 29.5 pound barracuda.

Prizes were also awarded for the biggest fish caught of each species that had not won a prize in another category.  First and second place prizes were $100 and $40 fuel vouchers.

Snyther Biza caught and 18 pound skipjack tuna for first place.  Second place was a tie between Samuel Thomas and Nick Gilmete who each caught 17.5 pound examples of the species.

Trumaine Penias landed a 74.5 pound yellowfin tuna for first place of the species.  Mary Tretnoff scored yet another prize for her second place winning 67.5 pound yellowfin tuna.

Jojo Hentrick caught the only mahi mahi of the day at 32.5 pounds for first place.

Thomas Inatos’ 25.5 pound wahoo earned him first prize followed by Konrad Englberger with a 23.5 pound fish. MG 0360

True to form, Konrad Englberger landed the largest barracuda at 34.5 pounds for first place.  Second place went to partner and boat mate Esperanza Guiuan with a 23.5 pound barracuda.

The biggest giant trevally was landed by Rodney Phillip, a seven pound fish.  Berno Hedson’s six pound grand trevally earned her second place in the category.

The weigh in and awards ceremony was a lot of fun.  Vital put on food and beer for all the anglers.  Additionally they were rocked by the sounds from Chris Johnson who served as DJ.  It was a great event.

Every boat that registered and attended the weigh in and awards, also received free gas from Vital.  That made for a lot of really happy fishermen.

We want to thank all the staff of Vital who helped out, along with the all of the regular Fishing Club helpers, Tina, Praise, Bill, Cel, Paul and Ansper, along with all of Kumer’s guys.

 MG 0347

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

June 5, 2018

Chuuk—Based on his guilty plea that he aimed a laser pointer at an aircraft, Isak Rawit of Chuuk was sentenced to four and a half years in jail.  All but six months of his jail sentence was suspended.  He is to report to jail by 5:00 p.m., on June 13, 2018 to serve out his sentence.

During the suspended portion of his sentence, the court placed Rawit on probation and his laser pointer was confiscated without compensation.

Rawit could have been sentenced to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each of the two counts of the crime he was charged with committing.  The government dropped one of the charges.

United Airlines pilots, Captain Kidder and Captain Falsani, reported that at approximately 9:40 PM on October 29 and again at 2:30 AM on October 30, they were attacked by a green laser light during flights. The pilots reported the coordinates of the origin of the laser beam as being in waters off Ruo in Chuuk State.

Through an investigation and questioning, National Police learned that Isak Rawit had been fishing in those waters on that night and that he owns a laser pointer with red and green lights. The laser pointer is similar to military grade laser pointers used to aid in sighting targets. It is not the small type of laser pointer that can be bought at variety stores. The criminal information says that the pointer that was used is six inches long and in addition to the laser beams, also has a flashlight mode. It is not a crime to own that type of laser pointer, but it is a crime to point it at an aircraft.

Rawit told the police that he and five other men were spear fishing in waters off Ruo. He admitted that each time he saw the United Airlines plane pass overhead, he took his laser pointer out of his bucket and shined it at the plane.

Prosecutors said that a United Airlines pilot testified about the dangers of laser pointer attacks on pilots when they are flying saying that an attack is hazardous to the pilots who are charged with the safety of their passengers.

 MG 0611By The United Filipino community

June 17, 2018

Kolonia, Pohnpei FSM- Filipinos in Pohnpei celebrated the 120th anniversary of Philippines independence, marking the day with presentations, messages, and traditional Filipino games from each regional organization. To remind the Filipino community of the precious heritage of Filipinos, the regional organization hosted games and sold Filipino cuisine. Tickets were given to those who won the games and were then used to spin a wheel to go a chance to win a variety of prices. Among the games played during the event were “sipa”, “tumbang preso”, “luksong tinik”, “piko” and “luksong lubid”. Children commonly play these traditional games before they got occupied with today’s modern technologies. Organizers of the event wanted to remind Filipinos of the rich culture and tradition they have that is in danger of being forgotten because of the fast changing technology. Aside from the games, a variety of Filipino foods were sold by each regional organization. The style of cooking and the food associated with Filipino cuisine have evolved over many centuries to a mix Indian, Chinese, Spanish and American influence. During the event, each regional organization showcased each unique cuisine from their region.