Micronesia Conservation Trust

 

Jo LynneKolonia, Pohnpei- The Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT) prides itself on building the capacity of Micronesia’s young and emerging conservation champions through its peer learning networks, internships and scholarship programs. Over 100 young Micronesian women and men are supported by these programs, and recently one of MCT’s own, Senior Grants Officer, JoLynne Gallen Mori, graduated with a Master of Business Administration from the Benedictine University with a 4.00 average in every single semester she completed. JoLynne has been with MCT since 2014 and will continue serving in her capacity as a Senior Grants Officer. Her main role as Senior Grants Officer is to manage a number of grants that MCT has secured from international donors. She manages over 25 subgrants to our local implementing entity partners, supporting a wide range of conservation and climate change adaptation projects.

Jo Lynne joined MCT in 2014 after 2 years with the GEF Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP) where she served as the Programme Assistant. She earned her Associate Degree at the College of Micronesia-FSM in Liberal Arts in 1996. She worked at the FSM Department of Economic Affairs as the Assistant Registrar of Corporations from 1997-2002 where she decided to further her education at the University of Hawaii in Hilo. In 2005, she graduated from the University of Hawaii with a B.B.A in Business Administration.

Outside of MCT, Jolynne enjoys spending time with her family and friends, caring for her Mom and her home, participating in community events and volunteering whenever she can including being a founding member of the newly established KOHWA NGO in Pohnpei. KOHWA stands for Koupweliki OH Wauneki Atail -sohso, which means to have pride and respect for our inheritance including natural resources and culture. KOHWA is based in Pohnpei, FSM and works with communities to improve sustainable practices through alternative income generation and community education on health, environment and cultural heritage in Pohnpei.

Congratulations to JoLynne for a job well done! JoLynne’s graduation with a masters degree increases the number of recent MCT supported graduates students to four (4) in the last few months. MCT will continue to support our emerging leaders in the coming years and this year will soon be announcing four new scholarship opportunities for Fall2020.

Republic of the Marshall Islands

Public School System

fMajuro, Marshall Islands – On Tuesday February 18th, 2020, the Republic of the Marshall Islands contributed its second $25,000 check to the Bill Raynor Micronesia Challenge (BRMC) Scholarship Fund, for a total contribution from the RMI government of $50,000. This contribution will secure a 1:1 match from a US based anonymous donor.

The Minister of Education, Sports and Training Hon. Kitlang Kabua presented the check to the Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT) Board of Trustees, Mr. Francis Carlos Domnick at the Ministers office.

Also, present to witness the handover was Associate Commissioner Sally Ann deBrum.

This contribution is to support a target goal to raise an endowment fund of approximately $1.2 million dollars to generate at least 5% earnings per year, to support two full time students per year with $30,000 annual scholarships.  This endowment fund is to support graduate students in natural resources management fields who are citizens and/or long-term residents of the five jurisdictions of Micronesia, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of Palau (ROP), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), US Territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) pursuing their graduate degrees in biodiversity conservation and other related sustainable development at universities within the Pacific region or in the US mainland.  To date the fund has supported 13 students from across Micronesia with 3 having graduated thus far.

Mr. Lakjit Rufus of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Commerce is the first Marshallese recipient of the scholarship. He is expected to graduate with a Masters in Global Environmental Studies from Sophia University in Japan this summer. Applications are now

open, please go to www.ourmicronesia

.org/scholarships for more information.

The Micronesia Registration Advisors, Inc. or MRA as it known in Pohnpei, has met with the General Manager of the Pohnpei Port Authority to discuss a donation to the people of FSM.  MRA is looking to improve the check-in/lobby area of the Pohnpei International Airport by enclosing it completely with walls and doors and installing air-conditioning in the lobby area where people check in for their flights and wait for the screening to open before entering the departure area.

Currently, the lobby area is open to the elements and on days when there is little breeze, it can get very hot in the lobby.  Air-conditioning will alleviate this issue and create a pleasant atmosphere for our visitors and for people coming to the airport to say goodbye to their family and friends.  The total cost of the upgrade is valued at $27,500.

The Pohnpei Port Authority would like to thank MRA for its donation and is looking forward to the renovations to the lobby area in the near future.

As background, Micronesia Registration Advisors, Inc. (MRA) was established in 2005 and has a long-term contract with government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) to promote the FSM Captive Insurance Domicile and the FSM Corporate Registry Program to corporations in East Asia.

FSM Information Services

 

Untitled 1PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On February 12th, 2020 His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), following the Chief Executives Council with FSM Petroleum Corporation/Vital, convened the Chief Executives Conference to discuss matters of import with the Nation’s Governors. Agenda topics included the Nation’s relationship with the Blue Prosperity Coalition and the National Geographic Society, the proposed Foreign Investment Bill, financial assistance from the People’s Republic of China (China), updates from the Joint Committee on Compact Review & Planning (JCRP), Tax Reform, and Overseas Development Assistance, among others. The purpose of the meeting was to begin discussions on topics of interest so that the May 2020 iteration of the State & National Leadership Conference can make executive decisions and agreements immediately prior to the Fourth Regular Session of the 21st FSM Congress.

Regarding the Blue Prosperity Coalition, the State Governors commended the Nation’s initiative and encouraged further collaboration among the five Governments.

Regarding the Foreign Investment Bill, it was recommended that Governors convene discussion on this issue with their respective states on the premise that the FSM—internationally regarded as a weak choice to invest in due to five separate foreign investment regimes—must improve its investment image abroad, and the best means to do so is to have a single, nation-wide standard as opposed to five separate foreign investment regimes. “I want to be part of the movement going forward,” Governor Falan said, in comments echoed by the other Governors.

Regarding assistance from China, the Department of Foreign Affairs provided a briefing on the six agreements signed in December 2019 (which were the agreements on economic and technical cooperation, the MOU on agricultural cooperation, letters of exchange on renovating the Pohnpei State Government Complex, letters of exchange on a feasibility study for road improvements and the Micronesia subregional training institute, protocols between FSM and Chinese medical teams, and a visa waiver for Government officials). Governors urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to follow-up on with the Chinese Government on the progress of aid for all four FSM States.

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On February 12th, 2020 His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), alongside the Honorable Johnson S. Elimo, Governor of the FSM State of Chuuk, the Honorable Carson K. Sigrah, Governor of the FSM State of Kosrae, the Honorable Henry S. Falan, Governor of the FSM State of Yap, and the Honorable Reed B. Oliver, Governor of the FSM State of Pohnpei, convened the 2020 iteration of the FSM Petroleum Corporation (FSMPC)/Vital’s Chief Executive Council (CEC). As prescribed in Public Law 15-08, the CEC must meet annually with the Board of Directors to review FSM Petroleum Corporation/Vital’s ongoing work.

                The President and the Governors began the CEC with opening remarks. “I just want to open with saying that, as a country,” President Panuelo said, “I believe that everything we do in the area of economic development must be in harmony with our environment because our environment truly sustains us. [FSMPC/Vital] has already transformed from its origins [in Public Law 15-08] as an entity that was supposed to stabilize the price of fuel, to better facilitate the buying, selling, exporting, manufacturing, and processing of copra and other coconut tree products with the FSM through [Public Law 18-68, also known as the ‘Coconut Tree Act’]. The FSMPC Transformation Act would further evolve their mandate to focus on renewable, sustainable, and clean energy. I encourage the [CEC] to deeply consider the merits of such legislation and how it would positively impact development in your State and in our Nation.”

                “The development needs for each of the [FSM] States must be recognized,” Governor Elimo began. “I am thankful to you Mr. President for honoring our request to…come together and discuss the unique issues [that each of our states face]. …[Today] we are going to discuss another effort of our Nation in promoting the [FSMPC/Vital], which is a vitally important aspect of our Nation and its unity…[as we] forge our way forward.”

                The Governors of Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap shared similar remarks on the importance of national unity and the duty of the CEC to oversee and support FSMPC/Vital.

                In the past decade, FSMPC/Vital has reduced the price of gasoline approximately $1.40 at the pump, with approximately 80 million dollars in financial benefits to the Nation. These equate to 14 million in debt repayments; 15 million in cash, inventory, and stock; 10 million in risk mitigation and assets; and 42 million to people in the form of passing on savings at the pump.

                Leaders queried how FSMPC/Vital passes on savings to citizens.

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—From February 19th, 2020 to February 20th, 2020 the FSM Department of Transportation, Communications, & Infrastructure (DTC&I) hosted an Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) workshop with the United Nations World Food Program. Inclusive of attendees such as FSM Telecommunications Corporation (FSMTC), the FSM Telecommunications Regulation Authority (TRA), Micronesia Red Cross, the Weather Service Office, Pohnpei Port Authority, the Department of Environment, Climate Change, & Emergency Management (DECCEM), and the FSM State Disaster Coordination Offices, the purpose of the workshop was to explore how the FSM presently communicates to citizens during national emergencies and crises and to determine means of improvement. The primary outcomes of the workshop included the development of the FSM’s ETC Cluster Terms of Reference as well as an Action Plan for the remainder of 2020.

                The workshop began with opening remarks from the Honorable Carlson D. Apis, Secretary of DTC&I. “The FSM Telecom Act of 2014 points to the provision of disaster relief services under the universal access policy while the National [Information & Communications Technology/ICT] Policy of 2012 outlines the use of improved public safety through ICT, specifically disaster communications, as one of the FSM’s strategies,” Secretary Apis said. “Our aim today is to strengthen national and state coordination in the area of emergency telecommunications.”

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

Pohnpei—“Permaculture” isn’t all that easy to explain but the idea seems, on the face of it, to be a good one—a self-sustaining homestead.  Marek Albrecht, a US citizen of Polish origin213213 who has retired to Pohnpei thinks it’s an idea that would work here and wants to set up a demonstration center to help people here to put in their own infrastructure to live “off the grid” in a sustainable way.

“I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes,” Albrecht says speaking of Pohnpei young people who he says he wants to reach out to.  “Imported food is too expensive and who knows if it will always be able to be shipped?  So this is sort of my gift to the next generation.”

He calls it the Pohnpei Homestead Project.  Once he identifies a site for the demonstration center, he plans to build the structures from recycled and locally grown materials such as bamboo. It would be open to the public for instructional purposes.  There he would teach about composting, water purification systems, low effort agricultural methods, biogas, solar energy and other concepts to built a self sufficient homestead.

He said that the project is a way for him to give back to the island.  It is not intended to be a profit center for him.  He said that he is funding it himself.

He arrived in Pohnpei four months ago and since then has been doing some agricultural experimentation to determine the best and most productive type of soil and composting methods.

Caroleen Eliam Becomes Pohnpei State Spelling Bee Champion; Jerishameri Benjamin, Jadea Gene Salvador, and Teeshantra Amor Runners-Up

KOLONIA, Pohnpei—On February 11th, 2020 the COM-FSM Educational Talent Search Program (TSP), in partnership with Pohnpei Rotary Club, Pohnpei Department of Education and Pohnpei Catholic School, held the 6th Annual Pohnpei State Scripps Spelling Bee at the Pohnpei State Legislative Chamber. The Champion of the 6th Pohnpei State Spelling Bee is Ms. Caroleen Eliam, representing Ohmine Elementary School, with Runners-Up include Jerishameri Benjaming (Ohmine), Jadea Gene Salvador (Saladak), and Teeshantra Amor (Sapwalap). These four students will represent Pohnpei State at the Scripps Spelling Bee Regional in Guam on March 7th, 2020.

After an opening by Mr. Diopulos Diopulos who served as the emcee, and an invocation by Bernadita Benavente Helstrom, Principal of Pohnpei Catholic School, CTEC Dean, Mr. Grilly Jack, of the College of Micronesia provided welcoming remarks.

Attendees of the 6th Pohnpei State Spelling Bee enjoyed fifty-four (54) rounds of spelling. The Championship word was “totipotency”, which is the ability of a cell to differentiate into any other type of cell and thus form a new organism OR to regenerate any part of an organism.

Facilitated by Mrs. Kamleen Sam, the 6th Pohnpei State Spelling Bee included Mr. Patrick Petrus as the Pronouncer, Elder Blake as the Assistant Pronouncer,  Ms. Phyllis Silbanus as the Judge, and Ms. Terleen Shelten & Ms. Drystal Silbanus as the Record Keepers.

Prior to the State Bee on February 11th, which consisted of champion spellers from schools across the State, were the School Bees. In this respect, TSP recognizes the following students as School Bee Winners:

  1. Ohmine Elementary School—Caroleen Elmera Eliam (7th grade), Jerishameri Benjaming (8th grade), & Ioreen Lopez (8th grade);
  2. Kolonia Elementary School—Omar Kenyon Santos (8th grade), Grace Aldis (8th grade), &Chirstenson Nelper (8th grade);
  3. Nett Elementary School—Lana S. Lucios (8th grade), Cailyn Ponapart (8th grade), & Hector David (8th grade);
  4. Awak Elementary School—Lora Victor (8th grade), Deshawn Obed (8th grade), & Elray Silbanuz (5th grade);
  5. Saladak Elementary School—Jadea Gene Salvador (8th grade), Sean Dae Amor (7th grade), & Lilly Jean Alex (8th grade);
  6. Lukop Elementary School—Louisantra Ladore Sahle (8th grade), Kayleen Usor (8th grade), & Hasten Valentine (8th grade);
  7. Sapwalap Elementary School—Haley Jonathan (7th grade), Teeshantra Amor (7th grade), J-marisha Dee Redes (8th grade);
  8. Pohnpei Catholic School—Gabriela Gallen (5th grade), Jasma Rose Ringlen (6th grade), Sheridan Giltama (8th grade);
  9. Nanpei Memorial School—Danylove Tom (8th grade), Itleen Santos (8th grade), Herbieshae Santos (8th grade).

TSP notes that the nine schools that held School Bees are all schools that are either Level Three or Level Four per the FSM School Accreditation Procedures. Further, the Champion and Runners-up are all students at Level Four schools per the FSM School Accreditation Procedures. TSP encourages schools presently at Level One or Level Two to implement School Bees as part of their regular extracurricular academic programming.

Congratulations to all for their participation and for making the 6th Pohnpei State Spelling Bee a success!

dh

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

January 31, 2020

Chuuk—The Office of the Chuuk State Public Auditor has discovered that Chuuk State Finance Funds Division failed to collect over $396,000 in reimbursements for funds the Chuuk government advanced in order to run U.S. government funded programs for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.  According to the auditor, some of those funds may now be uncollectible.

“Aside from the Sector grants that Chuuk receives as its share of Compact money, it is also receiving different federal grants from US federal agencies to fund various federal programs such as Special Education, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health (SAMH) program and the Comprehensive Cancer Control (CCC) program. These federal grants are the main source of funding for the twenty-plus programs that provide valuable services to the citizens of Chuuk. The nature of these federal grants is generally reimbursable; this means that Chuuk government must first expend its own money before collecting the reimbursement for its expenditures from the different federal agencies. Whenever advances by the Chuuk government were not fully collected at fiscal year-end, an accounts receivable is recorded. Close monitoring of accounts and prompt resolution of issues should allow Chuuk government to be able to fully reimburse its advances the following fiscal year or before the expiry of grant.”

The auditor recommended that the Funds Division Accountant in charge of federal grants should establish an accounts receivable subsidiary ledger for each of the federally funded programs and maintain their own record of collections to reconcile the billed amounts and its subsequent collections with that of the national government.

They also recommended that the Federal Grants Fund Accountant or the Director of the Department of Administrative Services’ designee should study the collectability of the accounts receivable and initiate collection if still collectible. Otherwise, they should initiate a write-off of uncollectible accounts.

“We conclude that the monies advanced by the Chuuk Government for the purpose of running different reimbursable federally funded program were not fully recollected back. Uncollected amounts were dated as far back as 2015.  The old uncollectible amounts from the Accounts Receivable from Federal Agencies/Grants were explained as due to expiry of the grant, amount reimbursed was less than the actual expenditures advanced and some expenditures were not allowable,” the audit said.

“…Non-collection of money advanced by the Chuuk government to run federal programs may also result in a loss of precious local funds for local operational budget purposes. In this case, the possible loss of about $300,000 is material enough for local budget purposes,” it said.

Embassy of Japan in FSM

dvOn January 9, 2020, the signing ceremony for the Project for Procuring a Portable X-ray Machine in Chuuk State was held at the Chuuk State Hospital to provide Department of Health Services, Chuuk State with the funds up to US$ 85,850 under the Grant Assistance for Grass roots Human Security Projects by the Government of Japan, to this end.              

This project will provide a portable X-ray machine, in order to improve the healthcare services in Chuuk State by detecting the prevalent Tuberculosis promptly leading to providing the appropriate treatment for the people in remote islands. The portable X-ray machine to be provided will enable the mobile clinic activities in remote islands in Chuuk and will benefit 6,000 residents in 2 remote islands, to begin with, with X-ray examination and appropriate treatment.

                 h

At the ceremony, Mr. Julio Marar, Director of Chuuk State’s Department of Health Services expressed deep appreciation for Japan's continuous support to Chuuk State particularly that from the Government of Japan, through JICA and other organizations. He stated that while Chuuk State had various challenges in the healthcare sector, the portable X-ray machine would significantly improve the situation.

             

Ambassador Sobashima Hidenobu stated that Japan decided to finance the provision of a portable X-ray machine to address the problem of the prevalence of tuberculosis in Chuuk State, and that he hoped that the portable X-ray machine would enable early detection and appropriate treatment of tuberculosis, and thus would contribute to the good health of the people in Chuuk State.

            

The ceremony was attended by the Hon. Mark Mailo, Lieutenant Governor, Mr. Julio Marar, Director of Department Health Services, and other officials of the Government of Chuuk State, doctors and members of Chuuk State Hospital, and members of the Embassy of Japan in the FSM.

FSM Information Services

 

February 7, 2020

With reference to the emergency declaration issued on January 31, 2020, as amended on February 4, 2020, it is clarified that Article X Section 9 of the FSM Constitution is the constitutional basis for the emergency declaration.

(A) It is further clarified that with respect to paragraphs #3 and #4 to the extent concerning “commercial sea vessels” (which means: fishing vessels, cargo vessels and oil tankers), travelling to the FSM for the purpose of trade and commerce, the following understanding applies:

(1) Commercial sea vessels traveling from or transiting through mainland China or any country, state or territory with confirmed cases of the Coronavirus are allowed to continue to deliver goods, commodities or supplies to the FSM as part of regular trade and commerce; provided, that such vessels have spent an uninterrupted period of no less than 14 days at sea prior to arrival in the FSM. If commercial sea vessels transit or stop in a port or anywhere in a country, state or territory that has no confirmed cases of the Coronavirus, then such transit or stop is not be considered as an “interruption” of the 14 days required in this paragraph.

(2) While operating at sea, should any of these commercial sea vessels come into contact with any other vessel that does not meet the requirement of paragraph (1), then these commercial sea vessels must comply with the 14 days requirement prior to their entry into FSM.

(3) Upon arrival, crewmembers of such vessels are subject to normal customs, immigration and quarantine inspections; additionally, they will be subject to any additional screening and inspection processes mandated by national and state Health authorities. All crewmembers must remain on board the vessels and comply at all times with directives and instructions by the FSM Emergency Task Force, and Health authorities. Fishing vessel crews may be allowed to proceed onshore provided that their 14 uninterrupted days at sea can be verified, and they are cleared by Health authorities.

(4) Any crewmembers showing any symptoms of the Coronavirus as determined by the FSM Health authorities are subject to quarantine procedures.

(B) It is further clarified that with respect to commercial airlines conducting regular transit service through the FSM, crewmembers and technical support personnel on board the aircraft may exit the aircraft in order to carry out inspection and regular duties around the aircraft, but they are not permitted to enter any airport facilities except for those necessary for the safe operation of the airline.

Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia

 

January 31, 2020

PALIKIR, POHNPEI – At the end of the first week of its Third Regular Session, the 21st Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia passed three Congressional Acts along with two Resolutions to address current issues of national and regional concerns.

The 21st Congress had convened on January 27, 2020, for its Third Regular Session to address matters pending before the Body and also review matters submitted by the Executive Branch for its consideration. The Committee to Wait met with President David W. Panuelo where the Executive’s issues were discussed at length and prioritized for consideration and action by the Congress.

At the end of Week One of the Third Regular Session, the first measure enacted by the Congress is a prohibition on the importation of one-time-use disposable items. Congressional Act (CA) 21-73, created a new chapter four under the statute on Environmental Protection - Title 25 of the FSM Code, to prohibit the importation of one-time-use disposable Styrofoam and plastic food service items along with plastic shopping bags.  The Act allowed for a transition period until July 1, 2020.

Through CA 21-74, the Congress clarified that the allowable recesses to be called by the Constitutional Convention included “one extended recess of between 3 and 30 consecutive calendar days.”  The Act further noted that those Delegates not paid by the national state and state government are entitled to $200 daily allowance. 

In light of the recent Australia Fires the Congress enacted CA 21-75, to appropriate $100,000 to fund relief efforts currently underway in Australia due to recent wildfires.

Along with the Congressional Acts, the Congress had during its first week of session adopted Congressional Resolution (CR) 21-96, to confirm the Johnny P. David to serve as the National Government’s representative on the Board of Directors of the FSM Petroleum Corporation.

The final measure of week one of the Third Regular Session of the 21st Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia is CR 21-105. Through CR 21-105, the Congress approved a $102,640 grant from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to fund and support the Measles Outbreak Responses Program in the Nation.

The Third Regular Session of the 21st Congress is scheduled for 20-days and is open to the interested general public.

Embassy of the United States of America Kolonia

321123On Friday, January 31, 2020, Carmen G. Cantor presented her credentials to President David W. Panuelo at the FSM National Government compound in Palikir, Pohnpei.

A native of Puerto Rico, she earned her Certificate in International Migration Studies from Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies, an M.A. in Labor Relations from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, and a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus.

A career member of the Senior Executive Service, Ambassador Cantor most recently served as the Director of the Office of Civil Service Human Resource Management in the Bureau of Human Resources, Executive Director for the Bureaus of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and International Information Programs (IIP), and Executive Director of the Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT) at the U.S. Department of State.

Prior to joining the U.S. Department of State, Ambassador Cantor worked in U.S. federal government positions at the Federal Maritime Commission, the Foreign Agricultural Service and at the U.S. Postal Service.

In her address to President Panuelo, Ambassador Cantor shared her excitement about experiencing the culture and visiting the rest of the FSM. She shared with him that upon her arrival into Pohnpei the previous day, she noted the similarities in vegetation and topography between Puerto Rico and Pohnpei and felt almost as if she were coming home.

Ambassador Cantor talked with President Panuelo about the United States’ willingness to defend the FSM against the threats posed by transnational crime, terrorism, and illegal fishing in its 1.3 million square mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and about the shared goal of promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Following Ambassador Cantor’s remarks, President Panuelo reiterated his statement from his inaugural address, that the United States is FSM’s closest ally and partner. “We are super delighted to welcome you to our country. With the wealth of experience that you do have, I am more than confident that you will uphold our relationship between our two countries.”

Present during Ambassador Cantor’s credential ceremony were: FSM Vice President Yosiwo P. George; Secretary Kandhi Elieisar, FSM Department of Foreign Affairs; Secretary Joses Gallen, FSM Department of Justice; Secretary Kalwin Kephas, FSM Department of Education; Secretary Marion Henry, FSM Department of Resource and Development, Secretary Livingston Taulung, FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs; Deputy Secretary Ricky Cantero, FSM Department of Foreign Affairs; Deputy Assistant Secretary for American Affairs Kehlen Halbert, FSM Department of Foreign Affairs; Chief of Staff Leo Falcam Jr; Deputy Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Kalvin Ehmes; Deputy Assistant Secretary for Multilateral Affairs Stacy Yleizah, and FSM Public Information Officer Richard Clark.

Embassy of the

United States of America Kolonia

IMG 8013At the ribbon cutting at Pehleng Elementary School to celebrate the completion of the renovations conducted by the Civic Construction Action Detail (CCAD) Program Naval Mobile Construction Battalion FIVE (NMCB5), Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy, Heather Coble, talked about how the work of the Construction Battalion plays an important role in strengthening our ties and special relationship. “Members of the U.S. government funded Construction Battalion, or “Seabees,” have been deployed to FSM for decades to continue building the partnership between the two countries, but they are also deployed throughout the Pacific region to include, Guam, the Philippines, Palau, and the Marshall Islands to name a few,” she said. 

In attendance at the event were Governor of Pohnpei State, Reed Oliver, Senator Dahker Daniel, Pohnpei State Legislature, Chief Magistrate Antonio Sarapio, Kitti Municipality, Acting Director Arwelson Arpona, Pohnpei Department of Education, Principal George Barnabas, teachers, and students.

Governor Reed Oliver noted the enthusiasm of the young school students, expressing utmost appreciation to the CCAD team and telling them that he hoped they had had the time to build many friendships at the school and within the community of Kitti. During the site tour, Governor Oliver, who had previously visited the site with U.S. Ambassador Robert Riley during the initial stages of the renovations, expressed to Lt. Brian Wood, Officer in Charge NMCB5, how he appreciated the quick turnaround and quality of work that was done.

The CCAD program has proven to be successful not only with its projects, but with other activities in the communities in the FSM, including:

ASVAB tutoring for students who are interested in taking the enlistment test.

Briefing on various job opportunities in the U.S. Navy.

Community relations with the various schools and communities throughout Pohnpei.

At the Pehleng school, the CCAD members have been performing renovations, such as painting, fixing plumbing and electrical functions, framing the roof, installing metal roofing, replacing doors and windows, and providing wall sheathing. Four classrooms now have new tile, new fans, new lights, and new solid core doors. Two bathrooms have new toilets, new sinks, new plumbing, and new roofs. Before this project, they completed the Nan-Uh Dispensary that will be servicing the community in both Uh and Madolenihmw.  Ms. Coble congratulated the CCAD Team for their great work, and wished Principal Barnabas, teachers, and the students many fruitful years enjoying their newly renovated school.

79701915 2165349723772801 4333993911472095232 oOn December 20, 2019, the College of Micronesia Trial Counselor’s Program in Chuuk held its commencement ceremony for ten (10) students who completed the program.  The commencement exercise was held at the FSM Supreme Court in Chuuk.

Although courses were taught from 2004 to 2007 in Chuuk, because of a lack of instructors, the program did not produce a graduating class.  After a 15-year absence, this program restarted in January of 2019, with its first graduating class in December of 2019. 

This program serves two main purposes. First, it serves as a stepping stone to those who want to pursue a legal education.  Graduates from this program have gone on to continue their legal education in the U.S., China, and at the University of South Pacific. 

This program also prepares current and aspiring legal practitioners.  The 10 courses offered in the program are designed to give students exposure to basic legal principles and rules of law, and prepares individuals to take the FSM Bar exam and to enter into the legal field. A one (1) year externship is required before being eligible to sit for the FSM Bar exam.

The program has found on-going success in Pohnpei through the College of Micronesia national campus, where classes have been held since the inception of the program in 1995.  Courses were also taught in Yap for a short period, but also because of a lack of instructors, classes are currently not being held.

The courses offered in the program are: 1) Contracts, 2) Criminal Law, 3) Torts, 4) Legal Research & Writing, 5) Constitutional Law, 6) Criminal Procedure, 7) Civil Procedure, 8) Property, 9) Evidence, and 10) Trial Practice.  Assuming that there are enough instructors, students usually take one (1) year to complete the ten (10) course program.

The courses in Chuuk were taught by Sabino Asor, Attorney General of Chuuk State, Kembo Mida Jr., Chief Executive Officer  of the Chuuk Public Utility Corporation, Daniel Rescue Jr., Directing Attorney for the Micronesian Legal Services Corporation Chuuk office, Lukas Padegimas, Staff Attorney for the Chuuk State Supreme Court, and Mark Jesperson, Staff Attorney for the Micronesian Legal Services Corporation Chuuk office.

The following is a list of the graduates: Kalvin Assito, Ioster Ifenuk, Otoko Kannys, Jonvan Kando, Fanes Meika, Sampora Moses, Redeemer Nelson, Josef Rold, Pastor Suzuki, and Kind Kando.   

FSM Information Services

January 28, 2020

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—As a component of the Digital Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) Project, from January 28th, 2020 to January 31st, 2020, the FSM National Government hosted a Cyber- Security Capacity Maturity Model Workshop. Implemented in close collaboration with its partners from the World Bank, the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity, and the Oceania Cyber Security Centre, the purpose of the workshop was for the FSM National Government, the FSM State Governments, and the FSM’s Private Sector to provide and receive information on the Nation’s contemporary cyber infrastructure, and its associated strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The physical product expected as an outcome of the workshop and the activities that follow is a report on national cybersecurity capacity, and recommendations for advancing maturity in the future, which will be used by the newly established Office of Information Technology & Supporting Services within the Department of Transportation, Communications, & Infrastructure (DTC&I) as a means of framing its short, medium, and long-term objectives.

“I believe this exercise is timely,” said the Honorable Carlson D. Apis, Secretary of DTC&I, “as we will expect that this review…will be significant in providing the policy guidelines necessary in the next phases of our development efforts, to complement and support the on-going and proposed FSM Digitalization Projects beginning this year and consequently the development of our cyber legislation, a necessary component of our [digitization] efforts.”

Although the FSM is contemporaneously one of the least digitally connected countries in the Pacific, the democratization of accessibility to the internet (and thus the democratization of knowledge) is a key agenda item in the administration of His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the FSM, and the Honorable Yosiwo P. George, Vice President of the FSM. As an example, with affordable access to highspeed internet in main and remote islands, the presently impossible task of an FSM citizen submitting a passport renewal request to the FSM National Government through a one-stop- shop service would become possible. However, such a task would also necessitate that accessing Government services online be intuitive, and that the security for such services be sufficient to protect citizens’ personal data and privacy.

Alvie B. Cabañez

Kaselehlie Press Volunteer Contributor

jfjfjTo benefit the victims of the eruption of the Taal volcano in the Philippines, the United Filipino Community in Pohnpei (UFCP) sponsored a “Flea Market for Cause” on February 1, 2020.

Held in the parking lot of the Pohnpei Cinema, vendors sold their wares and donated a portion of their profits to UFCP to send to the Phillipines on behalf of the victims.

On January 12, 2020, the Taal Volcano in the Batangas province erupted for the first time in 42 years spewing thick clouds of ash and lava fountains.  The eruption affected thousands of families and caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage.

At 311 meters hight, the Taal Volcano is classified as one of the world’s lowest and deadliest volcanoes. It has 47 craters, the main crater being 1.9 kilometer in diameter.

 “Upon hearing the news, I was saddened by it and worried at the same time because some families of our fellow Filipinos here in Pohnpei were affected,” said Gerry Figueras, UFCP President. “This initiative came as no surprise given the reception of the stall owners and customers especially it’s for a noble cause,” he continued.

Shoppers could buy a wide array of second hand items ranging from clothing, electronic gadgets, sports apparel, to kitchenware, all at reasonable prices.  The could also buy and enjoy Filipino delicacies like vegetable lumpia, palitaw, gotong Batangas, siomai, suman, cakes and pastries, porridge, grilled chicken and pork while shopping.

One World Plaza Coffee shop, Eco-Friendly Options, Walwal is Life, Sheena Mamangon, Dimple Bacareza, and the different regional organizations of UFCP were among the groups and individuals who registered for the event.

The event was headed by Engr. Figueras, UFCP President, the Filipino regional organizations, and supported by Ace Office Supplies, and FSM Telecommunications.

Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia

January 31, 2020

PALIKIR, POHNPEI - The Third Regular Session of the 21st Congress convened on Monday - January 27, and in accordance with the Congress Rules of Procedures, a Committee to Wait on the President was duly appointed chaired by Senator Robson Romolow consisting of members: Senator Joseph J. Urusemal, Senator Dion Neth and Senator Aren B. Palik.

The Committee met with President David W. Panuelo, Vice President Yosiwo P. George and their Cabinet to inform them that the Congress was in session and ready to transact business. President Panuelo welcomed the committee and provided an executive agenda for the meeting.

The agenda in brief, covers the Executive’s concerns and response to the growing epidemic of the Coronavirus; the measles outbreak in the region; the status of the 4th FSM Constitutional Convention; Philippine’s Labor issue in the Nation; the Foreign Investment Bill; and nominations to the national boards and commissions.

According to the President, in light of the recent outbreak of measles in the region, the Department of Health and Social Affairs (DHSA) increased its efforts in extending the availability of vaccinations to the outer islands and remote areas of the Nation. A projected cost of $500,0000 is needed to address the measles campaign but $200,000 is requested as an immediate startup budget.

On the same note, the President voiced his concerns of the growing global ‘coronavirus’ epidemic and explained that DHSA is coordinating efforts with the Department of Justice to determine the nation’s best approach to dealing with the epidemic. Ongoing meetings between the two departments will be conducted and further updates will be shared with the Congress during the session.

President Panuelo informed the Committee that the Constitutional Convention went into recess. He was informed by the Committee that a budget proposal was submitted by the Convention for completion of its work. An amount that the President assured the committee was already incorporated into his supplemental budget transmitted for consideration by the Congress.

Regarding the labor issues with the Philippines, the President is optimistic that the ban on Philippine workers will be soon lifted and that by the February a labor treaty between the FSM and Philippines will be in place to avoid future labor disputes.

Finally, the President proposed to the Committee that the foreign investment bill be reviewed by all stakeholders for possible inclusion in the state and national leadership conference tentatively scheduled for May. This would allow ample time for review and discussions to finally move the effort forward.

The Committee returned with the Executive’s concerns and priorities for consideration by the Congress.

Ambassador Huangs photoRecently, an outbreak of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), first identified in Wuhan City of China, has gradually spread all over China and to 24 other countries in the world. State leaders and high officials around the world have extended letters of condolences to or held telephone talks with Chinese leaders to show their understanding, support of and confidence in China’s unprecedented measures to prevent and control the epidemic. I’d like to express my special thanks to H.E. David Panuelo, President of the FSM, for his letter to H.E. Chinese President Xi Jinping, expressing his strong support and sympathy for the Chinese government and people.

Though the 2019-nCoV epidemic looks formidable and menacing, it’s actually not as horrible as people may imagine. According to a WHO report released on February 5th, there are altogether 191 confirmed cases outside China, which is less than 0.8% percent of the number in China. With China’s unrelenting efforts, the mortality rate in China is about 2.0%. In contrast, according to the media reports, in 2009, the H1N1 flu in the US spread to 214 countries and regions, which was estimated to have infected more than 60,800,000 people in the US with a mortality rate of 17.4%, causing the death of more than 284,500 people around the world. Due to the flu’s uncontrolled spread, the WHO gave up counting the total confirmed cases globally. The mortality rate of MERS of 2012 was 34.4% and Ebola 40.4%.

Here, I’d like to responsibly tell our FSM friends that the pneumonia caused by 2019-nCoV is totally preventable, controllable and curable.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

February 10, 2020

Madolenihmw, Pohnpei—Prosecutors at the Pohnpei Office of the Attorney General have filed criminal charges against four representatives of the Madolenihmw Government for the theft of over $67,000.

Each of the defendants is charged with Grand Larceny, Embezzlement, Theft by Failure to Dispose of Funds Received, Cheating, Misconduct in Public Office and Criminal Conspiracy.

The charges are the result of a criminal investigation recommended by auditors of the Pohnpei Office of the Public Audit after an audit of Madolenihmw, conducted in August of last year.  That audit questioned many unpaid salary advances that were never reimbursed.

The criminal charges accuse Pretrick Ringlen, Meninkeder Lapalapen (Mayor) of Madolenihmw of having “obtained for himself $29,542.18 in form of salary advancements outside of his regular payroll checks.”  The advances occurred of the course of 12 years beginning on July 6, 2007 with the last reviewed advance in July of 2019.

The charges accuse Meioleen Etse of advancing and not repaying $9,200.18 in advances above salary during the period beginning on September 9, 2007 through June of 2019.

They accuse Sohnasem George, the Account Clerk of receiving and not reimbursing $16,910.10 in salary advances beginning on June 19, 2009 and concluding in September 2018.

Hernet Ringlen, Madolenihmw Tax Collector stands accused of taking $11,872.38 in “loans” beginning on August 14, 2014 through June of 2019.

The defendants are merely accused and are presumed to be innocent in the eyes of the law unless otherwise proven during a fair hearing.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

February 6, 2020

Pohnpei—Because of a new Pohnpei law, the claims of young plaintiffs against Young Sun International Trading Company and Pohnpei State to halt the harvest of sea cucumbers are moot. The law established a five year moratorium on sea cucumber harvests in Pohnpei as well as the terms for the establishment of a Sea Cucumber Commission. It became law without the Governor’s signature on January 20.

Attorney Marstella Jack orally asked the court to drop the claims of her young clients against the State and Young Sun. The counsel for Pohnpei State agreed to allow the matter to be dropped.  Young Sun did not.  Plaintiffs and defendants are now awaiting a court ruling on whether or not it will dismiss the court action.

The sea cucumber matter is not over by a long shot.

Young Sun still has a counter claim against the Conservation Society of Pohnpei from an earlier case on sea cucumber harvests that has not been pursued nor adjudicated.  Young Sun could file a counter claim against the young Plaintiffs in the current case for losses it says it sustained as a result of the civil action the Plaintiffs filed that resulted in the halting of their ongoing sea cucumber harvest. 

Young Sun may also decide to sue the Pohnpei State Government for breach of contract or other causes.