By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

March 26, 2021

IMG 0429Saladak, U, Pohnpei—This morning, students of Saladak Elementary School in U, Pohnpei held an event to display what they have learned through an innovative program in cooperation with PREL (Pacific Resources for Education and Learning).

The program for preservation of indigenous learning was made possible by a grant to PREL from the organization Nia Tero who used the funding to begin one pilot program in the FSM and one in the Marshall Islands.  The kickoff for the pilot program at Saladak Elementary school was held on November 10, 2020.  Since then 6th, 7th and 8th graders spent part of each school week receiving instruction on weaving techniques with coconut fronds, carving with machetes, use of some wooden tools that are used traditionally for husking coconuts, splitting and pounding breadfruit, and sakau cups.  Students in all grades participated in the program and the learning also included traditional dancing and even canoe carving.  Students planted a working garden using traditional techniques, learned all of the traditional names for the plants and maintained the garden.  Some student spent time learning the honorific language and traditional titles as well as all of the village names in the U municipality.IMG 0318

“This has been a dream project for me for a long time.  After 30 years of trying to get everyone ready for college it became abundantly clear that we also need an educational pathway for those students who just want to live on their Islands and be productive citizens,” wrote Paul Hadik, PREL CEO in an email last November.  “I did this years ago in Kosrae and now with the enthusiastic support of Governor Oliver and Director of Ed Etse we are piloting at Saladak Elementary School.  Two-Three days a week the local Elders come in and teach everything from weaving, songs and chants, farming and fishing, canoe and navigation, family lineages, IMG 0381story-telling, local medicine, etc.” he continued.

Hadik said that the program will last until May at which time PREL will conduct a one-week skills test for the community leaders.

“The goal is to come away soon with an alternative education system that does not eliminate College Prep, but adds another finish line so to speak, for those students and communities (especially on outer islands) who want an education system more relevant to Island life,” he wrote.

On Friday morning, the students gave impressive performances on the campus of Saladak Elementary School.  ECE students each told the gathered crowd which clan they each came from. Fourth grade students each gave a specific example of the importance of local foods. Fifth grade students gave the names of each traditional leader in U and their specific titles within the traditional leadership structure.  Sixth graders each demonstrated weaving of mwahrmwars, bowls, and baskets from scratch.  Seventh graders also demonstrated weaving from scratch using coconut fronds. In their demonstration, they weaved containers for carrying specific food items such as coconut, cooked fish, andIMG 0285 breadfruit.  The seventh graders also performed two traditional dances.  Eighth graders demonstrated their knowledge of the traditional names of the various parts of the traditional canoe, a surprising number of parts.  They also demonstrated coconut husking and grating.

The demonstration ended with seventh and eighth graders conducting ahmwadang, a traditional sakau ceremony.

PREL’s representative is Canita Rilometo who has worked with the students since the pilot program’s beginning.  Pohnpei Governor Reed Oliver and Department of Education Director Stanley Etse attended Friday’s demonstration.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

March 25, 2021

Chuuk—This afternoon, Attorney Sabino Asor filed a civil action on behalf of six Plaintiffs at the Chuuk Trial Division of the FSM Supreme Court regarding alleged inappropriate actions regarding Chuuk election processes.

The Plaintiffs in the case (FSM CA 2021-1003) are Sabino Asor, Setiro Paul, Takamichy Mori, Johannes Berdon, Maimichy Masis, and Simay Casro Karen.  The named defendants are FSM Congress Speaker Wesley Simina in his official and personal capacities, FSM Senator Tiwiter Aritos in his official and personal capacities, Amando Marsolo as Mayor of Tol in his official and personal capacities, Alexander Narruhn, the FSM Department of Finance, the FSM Department of Justice, the Chuuk Statewide Development Authority, and the Faichuk Development Authority.

“This is a Civil Rights case brought: (1) to prevent the defendants from using the authorities and resources of the FSM National Government to commit voter oppression and violate voters’ and citizens’ civil rights for the purpose of influencing and controlling the outcome of political elections in Chuuk State, in ways contrary to law…(2) to seek specific performance in referring the allegations of election fraud and voters oppression to the defendant FSM Department of Justice to assign a special counsel to look into such allegations if there are criminal violations involved; and (3) to seek punitive damages against the named defendants for such alleged civil rights violations against opposing voters’ and opposing candidates’ during the March 2021 general election and other local state and municipal elections,” the civil action begins.

Plaintiffs point out that in 2003, the FSM Supreme Court ruled that it is a violation of the Separation of Powers of the FSM Constitution for members of the Congress to be directly or indirectly involved in the distribution and implementation of public projects funds appropriated by the Congress.  It says that the Chuuk Statewide Development Authority, and the Faichuk Development Authority were set up by Speaker Simina and Senator Aritos, respectively, in order to process and administer their public projects approved by the FSM Congress.

Plaintiffs allege that the two named Senators backed Marsolo, the incumbent Mayor of Tol by not only promising but by actually providing public project funds for boat motors and other things to voters who

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

March 15, 2021

FSM—This evening, the FSM Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a motion at the FSM Supreme Court to dismiss the complaint of 13 Plaintiffs who had asked the Court for declaratory judgment that the FSM Government’s emergency declaration that sealed its borders after the world wide COVID-19 outbreak was unconstitutional.  The plaintiffs in the case each reside in one of the four FSM states and had traveled outside of the FSM’s borders before the President acted to seal the country’s border.  They were each directly affected by the action of the government and for the last year, they have been unable to return to their homes as is the case for many FSM citizens, residents, and even members of the diplomatic corps.

The DOJ motion’s first argument for grounds for dismissal of the case was for failure to name indispensable parties. It argues that each of the State governments also should have been named since each of the four States also issued their own emergency declarations.  The argument specifically names the Pohnpei State Government as one of the authorities in the nation that was adamant about its declarations that refused disembarkation of passengers at its port.  “Although the FSM state of emergency covers borders control measures, the FSM States remains adamant in the disembarkation of persons from international travels,” the motion says. The motion to dismiss says that failure to name indispensable parties in a civil action is sufficient grounds for dismissal. 

However, within the heading discussing that matter, the Assistant Attorney General that filed the motion then diverged from the main argument saying, “This is an extreme circumstance where members of the society is (are) divided in their views. While some plea for the FSM borders to open, some demand the closure to continue. It is understood that certain rights may be impaired at times like this. The society are (is)

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

March 19, 2021

IMG 0247Pohnpei—On Friday, March 19, Ambassador of Japan to the FSM Sobashima Hidenobu met with Governor Reed Oliver and members of the Pohnpei Port Authority administration and board to formally sign the paperwork for a grant to enhance security at the Pohnpei Port.  The grant amount is $64,472.

During his speech, Ambassador Sobashima described the project that the government of Japan had decided to fund.  He said that Pohnpei Port is the main gateway of the FSM and is an important venue for business activities with huge inflows and outflows of people and goods.  He said that because of that it is susceptible to various possible crimes including smuggling and human trafficking.

To address that problem, the Pohnpei Port Authority formulated a proposal to construct a traffic monitoring facility equipped with gates, exclusive lanes and sign boards as well as sets of security cameras on the causeway to the port.  The Port solicited a grant from the government of Japan to finance construction of the facility except for the gates which will be constructed by Pohnpei Port Authority with its own financial resources.  The government of Japan responded positively to the grant request.

“In conclusion, I hope that this project will proceed smoothly and will improve the security and safety of Pohnpei Port and Pohnpei State, benefitting its population of about 36,000 people, and thus will contribute to the AOI (a cooperation between Japan and Pacific Island Countries for a future that is Active, Opportunity-filled, and Innovative) future of the Federated States of Micronesia,” he said.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

March 15, 2021

FSM—This evening, the FSM Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a motion at the FSM Supreme Court to dismiss the complaint of 13 Plaintiffs who had asked the Court for declaratory judgment that the FSM Government’s emergency declaration that sealed its borders after the world wide COVID-19 outbreak was unconstitutional.  The plaintiffs in the case each reside in one of the four FSM states and had traveled outside of the FSM’s borders before the President acted to seal the country’s border.  They were each directly affected by the action of the government and for the last year, they have been unable to return to their homes as is the case for many FSM citizens, residents, and even members of the diplomatic corps.

The DOJ motion’s first argument for grounds for dismissal of the case was for failure to name indispensable parties. It argues that each of the State governments also should have been named since each of the four States also issued their own emergency declarations.  The argument specifically names the Pohnpei State Government as one of the authorities in the nation that was adamant about its declarations that refused disembarkation of passengers at its port.  “Although the FSM state of emergency covers borders control measures, the FSM States remains adamant in the disembarkation of persons from international travels,” the motion says. The motion to dismiss says that failure to name indispensable parties in a civil action is sufficient grounds for dismissal. 

However, within the heading discussing that matter, the Assistant Attorney General that filed the motion then diverged from the main argument saying, “This is an extreme circumstance where members of the

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

March 18, 2021

IMG 0354Pohnpei—On Thursday, March 18, officials from the Kolonia Town government met with Ambassador of Japan to the FSM Sobashima Hidenobu to formally sign paperwork and receive the commitment of a grant for two new garbage trucks for Kolonia Town.  The grant amount is $177,088 which will cover the cost of procurement, shipping, and wharfage.

Ambassador Sobashima described the scope of the project during his speech. He said that in 2011, the Government of Japan donated two garbage trucks to Kolonia Town which then served its residents for nearly a decade.  However, both of the trucks have recently broken down and are no longer usable for waste collection.

To cover the service shortfall, the Kolonia Town government has been renting a flat bed truck with a self-contained crane to collect waste but it is not sufficient to the task. Kolonia Town approached the Government of Japan asking if they would be willing to supply two more trucks and the government responded positively.

Ambassador Sobashima said that with the provision of the two new garbage trucks, the frequency of waste collection in Kolonia Town will be able to increase from once every two weeks to once a week which will benefit the 6,000 people living in Kolonia.

“This is in conformity with the Osaka Blue Ocean Vision which aims to

reduce additional pollution by marine plastic litter to zero by 2050 through a comprehensive life-cycle approach announced in the G20 Osaka Leaders’ Declaration in June 2019,” he said.

By Conservation Society of Pohnpei

 

March 22, 2021

20210322 105209Pohnpei—Every time we drink a class of water, write in a notebook, take medicine for a fever or shelter in the safety of our homes, we sometimes miss the connection we have living harmoniously and comfortably with the forests. Forest sustainable management and their use of resources are key to combating climate change and to contributing to the prosperity and well-being of current and future generations. Forests also play a crucial role in poverty alleviation and in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). However, despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, deforestation continues at an alarming rate in most countries including Pohnpei.

On March 22, 2021, Pohnpei joined the world in celebrating International Day of Forests. The theme for this year’s event is “Forest Restoration: a path to recovery and well-being”. The event was hosted by the Department of Resources and Development (R&D), in partnership with Invasive Species Taskforce of Pohnpei (iSTOP), Island Food Community of Pohnpei (IFCP) and Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT).

The program started with a small ceremony that included a presentation from iSTOP. Pohnpei has been known as the garden island of Micronesia. Unfortunately, we have lost most of our native forest due to destructive farming practices over the years. As a result, we are seeing an increase in invasive weeds and plants that may cause ecological and economic nightmares if not managed or controlled. iSTOP presented a list of invasive weeds and plants that exist in Pohnpei, along with their plans to control and eradicate them. iSTOP continues to seek community involvement in controlling the invasive species that disrupt the balance to Pohnpei’s forest ecosystem.

Following the iSTOP presentation was the keynote address delivered by the Executive Director of MCT, Mr. William Kostka. In his address, Mr. Kostka highlighted the need to strengthen management capacity to Pohnpei’s farmers. Pohnpei’s traditional farming practice, also known as agroforestry, is now being recommended globally to address deforestation.

Following the short ceremony, all participants proceeded to the farm to plant a few coconuts to commemorate the event. After planting, everyone then reconvened at the station to collect plant seedlings. A total of 119 seedlings were provided by the Division of Natural Resource Management including soursop, papaya, avocado, tamarine, lime, cinnamon/madeu, coffee, mountain apple, banana and coconuts and were distributed to all participants to take back and grow in their respective lands.

We look forward to the next international day of forests and hope to see more farmers joining this important event.

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei— The 21st Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) began its Tenth Special Session on March 22nd, 2021. After the opening session, His Excellency David W. Panuelo virtually received the Committee to Wait on the President, Chaired by the Honorable Ferny S. Perman, Chairman of the Congressional Committee on Health & Social Affairs, with committee members inclusive of the Honorable Isaac V. Figir, the Honorable Derensio S. Konman, and the Honorable Aren B. Palik.

Arguably the bulk of the discussion focused on the COVID-19 Pandemic, with foci on the Nation’s vaccination efforts and repatriation plans.

Regarding the vaccination efforts, President Panuelo described that, as of March 22nd, 2021, 23% of the Nation’s eligible population (i.e. adults aged 18 and up) have received their first dose of the vaccine, and 15% have received their second dose. The Government has asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to send more Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which are not as fragile as the Moderna vaccines, to increase vaccination rates on lagoon islands, and in remote villages and communities. The documents informing the briefing President Panuelo gave the Senators may be found here: https://gov.fm/files/FSM_COVID19_Vaccination_March_22_2021_Update_for_CTW.pdf

The Honorable Senators probed for information on why the FSM’s vaccination rate is so slow compared to other jurisdictions, advising that to their knowledge misinformation on social media may be spreading unnecessary fear and concern over the vaccine. President Panuelo described that one avenue the Nation is considering to increase the COVID-19 vaccination rate is to tie citizens’ receipt of financial stimulus

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On March 23rd, 2021, His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and the Honorable Eugene Amor, Secretary of the Department of Finance & Administration, announced that the U.S.-funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program will be extended until September 2021. The Office of PUA under the Department of Finance & Administration received the official notice for extension of the PUA program from the U.S. Department of Labor on March 15th, 2021.

                The President of the United States signed into law the American Rescue Act of 2021 (ARPA) on March 11th, 2021, extending the PUA program for the second time. The ARPA extends the PUA and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) programs from March 14th, 2021 to September 6th, 2021, an additional 29 weeks for an overall total of 79 weeks. Qualified individuals will continue to receive their weekly benefit of $166 plus the FPUC of $300 per week.

                The PUA program is for individuals whose employment or self-employment was interrupted as a direct result of the COVID-19 Declaration of Public Health Emergency. For the FSM, which remains COVID-19 free, eligible individuals need to be directly impacted by the border closure, or other emergency measures, mandated in the National or State Government Emergency Declarations. It does not cover individuals who are unemployed for reasons not specified in the public health declarations, such as voluntary reduction of work hours, reduction of work hours in response to economic hardship, or working from home but continuing to receive regular income levels.

                The first PUA extension occurred on December 27th, 2020 when the President of the United States signed into law the Continued Assistance Act (CAA). The enactment of the CAA extended the PUA program for an additional 11 weeks and reauthorized, but modified, the FPUC supplement to $300 per week from December 27, 2020 to the week ending on or before March 14th, 2021.

                The Office of PUA in the FSM continues to require individuals to submit proof of identification and documentation for employment or self-employment. Individuals are also required to submit Weekly Payment Requests on a bi-weekly basis. Failure to provide required documentation, and/or untimely filing, may disqualify an individual for the program.

                It is a violation of both U.S. and FSM law to collect the PUA benefit illegally. If you suspect someone is collecting the PUA benefit illegally, contact the Office of PUA fraud hotline at +691- 320-1103 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

                The FSM National Government wishes to thank the U.S. Government for including the FSM in this program, and the U.S. Department of Labor for its continued technical guidance in the administration of PUA and FPUC benefits.

HONIARA, 25 March, 2021 – The first Forum Fisheries Agency coordinated fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance operation of 2021, Operation Rai Balang concluded last week after two weeks of increased surveillance effort in eight Pacific nations. 

                National organisations in Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have been working together to conduct surveillance, supported by the four Pacific Quad partners (Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States).

                Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen said the operation provided maritime surveillance across 13.3million square kilometres of the Pacific and achieved 349 sightings and 30 boardings. The operation included 11 surface ships and 6 surveillance aircraft.

                “Working collaboratively to protect the income generated by our oceanic fisheries means protecting the incomes, jobs and livelihoods of many Pacific people,” said Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen.

                “This is a great example of the power of united effort. The strength of our cooperation has ensured this Operation was a success. We extend our sincere thanks to all our Members and partners who joined us for Operation Rai Balang.“

                RSIPF Maritime, Deckhand, Mrs Tricia Wilimae said Op Rai Balang was a great learning experience for her. “I could see the way the RFSC worked with the different agencies in our country, and how working together we all achieved a better result,” said Wilimae. “I know that I will take back things I have learnt, to share with my colleagues in Maritime Police.”

                Speaking from the FFA’s Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre (RFSC) in Honiara, FFA Surveillance Operations Officer, Commander Robert Lewis reflected that Operation Rai Balang wasn’t just about catching perpetrators.

                “Our operation brings many benefits to FFA’s member countries,” said Commander Lewis. “It helps build a national skills base across many Pacific nations.  We focus on intelligence driven and targeted operations to create a deterrence effect. There’s been a change towards a culture of greater operational collaboration across the Pacific, and the shared assets participating make the operation more effective.”

                “It has also helped us to deliver a sharper picture of what risks this sector faces and how it can be protected. It is sometimes not as obvious as a vessel operating illegally or running “dark”. IUU fishing by the licensed fleet is estimated to account for over 95% of IUU activity in Pacific tuna fisheries. Operation Rai Balang attempted to close these gaps by encouraging FFA Members to actively consider inspections, including monitoring catch and effort reporting, unloading or transhipment, and verification of catch data for licensed vessels during dockside activity or at sea.”

                In FSM the patrol boats FSS Palikir and FSS Independence along with USCG Cutters Kimble and Myrtle Hazard successfully patrolled large areas of the South Eastern region of the FSM Exclusive Economic Zone. During the first week of the operation FSS Palikir, USCG Cutter Myrtle Hazard supported by a USCG C-130 aircraft combined to conduct a successful search and rescue operation for five missing fishermen from Pulusuk Atoll in Chuuk State. This successful rescue once again demonstrated the excellent coordination and cooperation between the FSM Maritime Police and the USCG.

By Conservation Society of Pohnpei

 

March 17, 2021

Pohnpei—On March 17th, the Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP), in partnership with Pohnpei State Department of Resources and Development (R&D), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT) co-hosted the Second Mangrove Conference. The objectives of the conference were to bring together elected officials from both state and municipal governments, village chiefs, resource managers and stakeholders to inspire sharing of information and continued stewardship of the mangrove ecosystem that provides protection, livelihoods and ecosystem services to the people of Pohnpei. The conference also provided an opportunity for the local resource managers to report on the recent findings from the rigorous surveys conducted in the past years by United States Forest Services (USFS), US Geological Survey (USGS), and the University of Tasmania in partnership with Pohnpei state government and local partners to evaluate the status of Pohnpei’s mangroves. The surveys provided some recommendations and strategies from the analysis that are critical for decision-making in terms of mangrove management.

The 1st Mangrove Conference was held in November 2020 where it established a dynamic platform motivating a dialogue between resource management agencies, elected officials, village chiefs and community members. The 2nd conference was a follow up to the first one mainly to discuss and prioritize actions based on the recommendations provided by the recent surveys. The participants broke out into working groups representing each municipality to review and prioritize the recommendations. After some deliberate discussions between the municipalities, everyone finally agreed to settle on 5 immediate recommendations that would help improve the management of our mangrove in the long run.

Development of the Pohnpei State Mangrove Management Plan was the top recommendation across all municipalities. Over thirty years, laws and regulations were established to manage our valuable mangrove without a management plan. The second recommendation was to strengthen conservation laws agreed upon at all levels (community, municipal, state, and national governments) and to enforce them at all levels. Improving local management capacity was the third recommendation prioritized by all municipalities. This particular recommendation is very critical as it will build competency and awareness at all levels. The fourth recommendation was to strengthen science and the traditional knowledge-based decision-making process. This is a call for our top officials to make proper decisions based on science and traditional knowledge. Resource management agencies must also heighten the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) protocols to make sure conditions are fully met. The last recommendation was to improve current dredging laws and regulations. There are 45 dredge sites around Pohnpei and 12 are still active with more rising. Should we keep the status quo, we might end up losing our vital coastal resource within the next ten years.

The partner agencies co-hosting the conference will compile the recommendations and draft an action plan which will then be transmitted to all decision-making officials at all municipal, state and national governments for endorsement. The municipal governments have also agreed to join the partnership by facilitating the awareness of the drafted action plan to the council of traditional chiefs at each municipality for their blessings. We aim to coordinate and continue this mangrove conference to be held once or twice every year. This way, we can keep building, changing and improving our management effort harmoniously with all stakeholders involved.

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—Recently, the Honorable Carlson D. Apis—Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Communication, & Infrastructure (TC&I)—met with Pohnpei-registered private contractors. The aim of the meeting was to update them on the current status of the FSM’s Infrastructure Development Plan (IDP), and to solicit their suggestions on how to improve the partnership between the contractors and the National Government, so as to ensure that local contractors play a more active role in the implementation of the FSM IDP. Similar meetings are being planned with the contractors from the other States.

Over the near to medium term, the FSM will be embarking on a construction drive on a scale never before equaled in its history. The construction boom will be fueled by already secured funding from a wide spectrum of reliable sources, including the Compact of Free Association, as Amended, the Federal Aviation Administration, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and others.

Approximately four hundred million dollars ($400,000,000) is already committed for these purposes.

For the State of Yap, the rehabilitation of the airport runway is already out to bid. The replacement of the water treatment plant, and the replacement of the wastewater treatment plant, are expected to have their Request for Proposals (RFPs) ready in July. Improvements on bridges and schools are currently being designed and/or in the process of hiring a designer.

For the State of Chuuk, the construction of five (5) dispensaries, and three (3) schools, are having their bidding documents prepared. A design consultant is being procured for the extension of

Weno’s paved road, and scoping and design is expected to start in mid-2021 for the construction of the new Chuuk State Hospital.

For the State of Pohnpei, the RFP is ready for the Kinakapw to Lehn Diadi Waterline Project, as well as the new Teaching Clinic at the College of Micronesia-FSM. Meanwhile, bidding documents are being finalized for the construction of the Pohnpei Primary Healthcare Facility, as well as Pohnpei Island Central School’s (PICS) Campus & Library Improvements. A design consultant is being procured for the replacement of the Awak Bridge.

For the State of Kosrae, design consultants are being procured for the re-paving of the airport runway, improvements to Malem Elementary School, and improvements to the Lelu Causeway.

Contractors noted in the Q&A session that there are ongoing concerns regarding which standards are upheld in a given construction project, noting that a designer from the United States will follow different standards than a designer from New Zealand and the result on the ground in the FSM is inconsistent. Secretary Apis noted that the FSM is in the progress of developing its own FSM Building Code, which would seek to universalize construction requirements in the FSM.

Several contractors noted that an issue in their attainment of acquiring construction projects is that local contractors may not have the necessary equipment, manpower, licenses, or cash reserves to take on such projects, with the result being that foreign contractors frequently win the bid for FSM- based projects. Secretary Apis explained that, while there has been good progress in securing necessary funding for infrastructure programming, that an ongoing issue remains the scarcity of contractors. The Secretary suggested that, in addition to the development of the FSM’s own Building Code—currently in development—it may be fruitful for FSM-based contractors to consider partnerships with foreign construction firms.

“Our Government’s preference is really to have our own companies participate more in our projects,” Secretary Apis said in the meeting.

Citizens and stakeholders interested in reviewing the PowerPoint Presentation shown during the meeting may find it here: https://tci.gov.fm/documents/pmu/presentation/presentation-to- pohnpei-contractors-2021.pdf

Contractors interested in receiving the most up-to-date bids and RFPs are advised to submit their interest at the Department of TC&I’s website at: https://tci.gov.fm/contact.html

Image 5Pohnpei—International Women’s Day events in Pohnpei were spread throughout Pohnpei at several different events over the course of a week.  Organizers were unable to provide information on those events, but one event occurred for which we did receive information, a historic first meeting between a Pohnpei First Lady with the wives of the Nanmwahrkis and Isonahnkens of Pohnpei—a meeting between government and ladies of tradition, First Lady Patricia Edwin called it.

On March 8, Edwin held a dinner at her home hosting Likend Kelekel of Madolenimw, Merleen M. Hebel; Nahnperehleng Nahnalek Sokehs, Susana F. Kohler; Nahnalek Sapwuafik, Carlin A. Solomon. Representing Kesouwa of Pingelap Nancy N. Solomon was Sihna N. Lawrence who is also President of Lien-Alem of Pohnpei. Nahnkenieis, who are the wives of the Isonahnkens who attended were Nahnkeniei Madolenihmw, Piliana Adolph; Nahnkeniei Uh, Permina M. Joseph; Nahnkeniei Kitti, Justina Peter; and Nahnkeniei Nett, Ruth Iriarte.

Edwin said that during the dinner, she updated them with what’s happening in government, especially with issues relating to women, children, and persons with disabilities. They discussed Pohnpei’s vaccination rate and Asian Development Bank funding which will directly assist women. They discussed ways in which us mothers of wehi & traditional leaders can help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities when/if it does arrive on our shores, not just in our households but in our larger community as traditional leaders. Edwin also urged all the ladies to get vaccinated and to spread the word in their communities urging their people to get vaccinated as well.

Edwin said that under the theme #ChooseToChallenge, the women pledged to Celebrate Women’s Achievements, influence others’ beliefs and actions, and to forge positive visibility of women.

FSM Information Services

 

sssddPALIKIR, Pohnpei—The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia’s (FSM) National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA) is pushing forward with the Nation’s bid to be the first Pacific Island country to fully establish the capacity to monitor longline vessels fishing in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) using Electronic Monitoring by 2023.

Electronic Monitoring of fishing activities is the setting-up of cameras, GPS, sensors, and hard- disk drives onboard fishing vessels. This method of data collection has been successfully implemented in over twenty (20) fisheries worldwide over the past two decades. In the Pacific, Electronic Monitoring is emerging with trials ongoing since 2016 in the FSM, the Republic of Fiji, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Solomon Islands.

In the FSM, trials have been carried out on eight vessels (8) fishing within and outside of the FSM EEZ. A current trial, in partnership with Japanese vessels, is testing a four-camera system. At the end of fishing trips, video files are viewed by fisheries observers to collect relevant data.

Electronic Monitoring is a significant step towards collecting information from the longline fishery that, historically and currently, has had extremely low levels of independent monitoring.

For example, whereas the tuna purse seine fishery possesses 100% observer coverage (i.e. all

vessels have a real human being onboard whose job is to see what’s happening), the longline fishery possesses only 5% observer coverage. The primary reason for this low level of observer coverage is that

By: International Organization for Migration

Main Island Drone 2March 22 marks World Water Day — an annual UN day to raise awareness on the importance of freshwater. This year’s theme is the value of water, which is about much more than its price. Water has enormous value for households, food, culture, health, education, economics and the environment. The value of water is especially important for the outer islands of Pohnpei.

Over the past several months, the community of Kapingamarangi has been threatened by water shortages due to prolonged periods without rain. As part of Pohnpei State’s coordinated effort to support the community, IOM and USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA) will build a water catchment system consisting of eight 1,500-gallon water tanks. IOM is partnering with the Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT), who will also build another water catchment system, also consisting of eight 1,500-gallon water tanks. The tanks are expected to meet the long-term water needs of the community.

The water catchment systems being built by IOM are funded by USAID/BHA through the Inclusive Mitigation and Preparedness in Action (IMPACT) project. IOM delivered the eight tanks (each with a capacity of 1,500 gallons) to Kapingamarangi on January 21, and the materials necessary for constructing the structure will follow. Chief Magistrate Edgar Lickaneth of Kapingamarangi highlighted that for his community, “Water is our lifeline, especially for us on a remote island where we depend on rainfall. We are so blessed with this generous donation and wish to extend our heartfelt thank you to IOM.”

As a member of the Kapingamarangi Task Force, IOM had the opportunity to return to the island to conduct a follow-up visit. The visit took place from February 24 to March 1, during which IOM repaired the Reverse Osmosis Unit, capable of purifying 360 gallons of water per day, and trained eight community members on its maintenance. IOM also met directly with the community to discuss the hazards facing their community and identify their needs. Over 70 community members participated in the discussion, including women, youth and the elderly. The IMPACT project emphasizes inclusiveness in all its activities, as integrating the needs of all members of a community results in a more sustainable and effective project.

IOM is looking forward to working with its partners and the community at large to successfully implement the IMPACT project and to highlight the important value of water!

A Conversation on Navigating the FSM’s Blue Heritage and Future

Blue Prosperity Micronesia Facebook

 

March 30th

Nicole grew up on the islands of Palau, Saipan, Pohnpei, and Chuuk, and was passionate about science and the environment from a young age. She graduated from Chaminade University of Honolulu with a Bachelors of Arts in Biology and Bachelors of Science in Environmental Studies. She received the Bill Raynor Micronesia Challenge scholarship from Micronesia Conservation Trust to continue her PhD in the Marine Biology Graduate Program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Her research focuses on the effects of climate change on the marine plant community. Understanding how primary producers respond to these changes will help scientists and managers predict the future health of reefs, which is crucial for the livelihoods of Pacific Islanders who highly depend on the ocean for many purposes.

Says Nicole: “Climate change will be a long-term issue, which means we need a long-term solution. I believe that the long-term solution is found in the education of our youth. I hope the expedition will help inspire young Pacific Islanders to pursue STEM fields and encourage them to obtain higher degrees.”

Despite their distance from human communities, the offshore and deep sea environments are increasingly impacted by human activities like deep sea mining, bottom-trawl fishing, and pollution. Nicole’s journey is a reminder that like the ancestors of the FSM, we are fundamentally connected to the ocean and are supported by its vast and diverse habitats. Nicole made this voyage thanks to deep sea explorer Victor Vescovo, who owns and operates the Limiting Factor, one of the only submarines capable of descending to such depths.

Blue Prosperity Micronesia is a partnership between the Government of the FSM and the Blue Prosperity Coalition, including Micronesia Conservation Trust, the Waitt Institute, National Geographic Pristine Seas, and Oceans5, to protect 30% of the FSM’s waters, including unique places like the deep sea.

For more information, please contact:

Yolanda Joab Mori | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. |

Canon Purdy | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | +1 415-747-4360

FFA’s Moana Voices series on women shaping the future of oceanic fisheries is edited, researched and produced by Lisa Williams. This interview for Moana Voices 2021 edition is with Camille Movick-Inatio, of Federated States of Micronesia, who at the time worked as a VDS administrator at NORMA. The interview is published here to mark International Women’s Day.

Untitled 1“There’s nothing more rewarding and exciting for me than that moment where people commit their countries to a common goal. Putting aside their differences so that, as a region, we can progress makes me happy and proud because that’s almost impossible in other regions. And that’s what makes us people in the Pacific unique. We put our people first, and we may not always agree, but we will always look after one another.”

I didn’t know it at the time, but my first job at the FSM Department of Resources and Development shaped me for the step into Oceans and Fish. I was the assistant secretary of the Trade and Investment Division. We were doing quite a lot of trade negotiations with the European Union (EU) for fisheries market access. From those access issues and trade talks, I began to glimpse an entirely different world around the tuna question, especially around conservation and management rules of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), which has its headquarters in Pohnpei.

In my resources and development work, the focus was primarily on being able to export our fish to the EU market, not so much on the conservation and preservation of the stock. My NORMA [National Oceanic Resource Management Authority] role has brought in that extra layer of ensuring you make the best of the economic opportunities now, while ensuring you do have something to export in the future – so it’s made me realise the journeys in fisheries work involve a lot more than fishing.

At meetings like the WCPFC sessions, much of why we are here is around the conservation aspect of it. And in spaces like this you come to realise just how important fisheries is, not just to FSM but to the entire

Habele

FSM Migrants North Carolina with Loom and Warp BoardBeautiful loom-woven textiles of Micronesia display an artistry and technical virtuosity unrivaled elsewhere in the Pacific. Chief among them is the lavalava, a woven skirt from the Outer Islands of Yap State, situated in the Western Caroline Islands.

A new website aims to ensure this important cultural skill is preserved among weavers who have moved far from home.

Weaving these skirts requires tremendous skill, work and patience. It also requires a special type of backstrap loom. The size and weight of these items are such that few women who move off island for health, education, or employment are able to bring a loom with them.

Many migrants are young women, who depart the islands to further their education at an age by which they may not have completely mastered weaving skills. Once in the United States they are often in proximity to other Outer Islanders with expertise, but who similarly lack looms. It is at this point –when young women who lack weaving skills arrive in the US, or women who can weave but lack access to looms give birth to daughters in the US- that the link in transmission of weaving skills is fatally severed.

Habele’s WeavingConnections.org was created to help sustain the tradition among migrants in the mainland US. The site offers context on the lavalava and the cultural tradition in which it is situated. The project provides details about the parts of the loom used to weave lavalavas. Most importantly, Weaving Connections offers simple Do-It-Yourself instructions for Remathau in the mainland US to make looms from easily obtainable materials.

“The site is a labor of love,” explained Habele Founder Neil Mellen. “So many passionate skilled women in the Outer Islands, Yap, Guam, Hawaii and the mainland have given generously of their time and expertise. It is clear to them all how fragile the transmission of these skills really is as Micronesian migrants fan out far from their home islands.”

“Weaving Connections” is an initiative of the Habele Outer Island Education Fund, a nonprofit established by former Peace Corps who served in Micronesia. Since 2006, Habele has provided direct support to students, schools and communities across the FSM through book donations, tuition scholarships, high school robotics and the support of traditional mentorship programs.

March 31, 2021

students with OFAPohnpei – A new project aiming to increase community awareness of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) and sea safety in FSM has been launched this week. The project is a partnership between the Pacific Community (SPC), and the National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA), with support from Pohnpei State Office of Fisheries and Aquaculture (OFA) and the FSM Department of Resources and Development – Division of Marine Resources (FSM R&D).

Jamel James from NORMA says, “This project is a great opportunity for fishers and the community of FSM to improve sea safety practices and build their knowledge and capacity in relation to the use of FADs in their waters”.

FADs are used widely thoughout the Pacific to benefit local fishers when anchored inshore and industrial tuna fleets when drifting in offshore areas, but community and stakeholder awareness of the benefits, risks and issues related to FAD use is often low.

Recently around Pohnpei a number of FADs have been anchored close to shore to benefit local artisanal and recreational fishers. There are plans to expand these deployments to other locations, not only around Pohnpei, but also in the outer islands of Pohnpei.

“To really understand the benefits of these anchored FADs, what we really need is better data” says project co-investigator Naiten Bradley Phillip Jnr. “Data on what and how much people catch around the

UNFPA

 

dddfghhhjFSM, 25 March 2021 – The United Nations Population Fund’s Pacific Sub-Regional Office has donated the Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and Dignity Kits to the Department of Health and Social Affairs of the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia.

This equipment was donated to support the continuity of sexual and reproductive health services and protect health workers who will deliver these services in the event of community transmission of COVID19.

Upon receipt of the donated supplies at the Pohnpei State Public Health, Public Health Chief Dr. Rally Jim said that the “Donation of PPEs and dignity kids from UNFPA will support Pohnpei health services’ overall COVID-19 preparedness. The dignity kits, for example, are very impressive and the contents are very well thought out in terms of what women would need in an emergency.”

These kits ensure that women and girls can access basic services, including health care during the disasters.  UNFPA also works through these distributions to ensure women and girls and young people have access to knowledge of where to access ongoing needs for sexual and reproductive health services and responses for gender-based violence. The UNFPA Pacific Dignity Kits (in the blue waterproof bag) consists of sarongs, reusable sanitary napkins, soap and combs, sandals, towels, t-shirts, underwear, soap case, flashlights, mosquito coils, zip lock bags, toothbrush and toothpaste, whistle, and disposable sanitary napkins. 

Office of the Chuuk State Public Auditor

 

March 4, 2021

Chuuk—This is to announce the release of a blueprint for strengthened independence of the Office of the Chuuk State Public Auditor (OCPA). It includes an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, challenges, opportunities, and threats to the independence of the OCPA, and the formulation of corresponding strategies and plan for implementation that can help overcome or address such challenges and threats.

The important role of the public auditor’s office is to contribute and help in promoting efficiency, accountability, effectiveness, and transparency of public administration. Among others, the auditor’s office helps the government to improve performance, enhance transparency, ensure accountability, maintain credibility, fight corruption, promote public trust, and foster the efficient and effective receipt and use of public resources for the value and benefits of their citizens.

The fact is that the public auditor’s office can accomplish its tasks more objectively and effectively only if it is independent and protected against any influence.

Thus, the overall objective of the OCPA in this task is to pursue and achieve greater independence thru its legal (legal framework- constitutional and law) and its day-day-operation. The basic strategies include the following:

Develop and implement enhancements in the legal framework (especially in the public auditor’s act) and in actual operations to provide for greater independence

Implement a communication strategy. Advocate and engage with relevant stakeholders.

Prepare and implement an audit strategic plan

Request for the approval of budget for the right size of manpower for the office considering its mandate

Monitor the independence, prepare to be accountable and lead by example.

With greater independence coupled with the right resources and right number of qualified and trained manpower, the OCPA would be able to deliver an effective value and benefits that can reasonably contribute to making a difference to the lives of Chuuk State citizens.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Four (4) community health centers in the Federated States of Micronesia will receive $9,023,875 in American Rescue Plan funding to support COVID-19 vaccination and services for vulnerable populations, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today. The funding will be awarded beginning in April by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Health centers will be able to use the funds to support and expand COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and treatment for vulnerable populations; deliver needed preventive and primary health care services to those at higher risk for COVID-19; and expand health centers’ operational capacity during the pandemic and beyond, including modifying and improving physical infrastructure and adding mobile units. This investment will help increase access to vaccinations among hard-hit populations, as well as confidence in the vaccine by empowering local, trusted health professionals in their efforts to expand vaccinations.

“Every American should have the security of knowing they have access to quality, affordable health care, especially as we face a pandemic that has exposed the disparities facing rural, minority, and lower-income communities,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The Biden Administration is committed to getting help to those who need it most, and the communities hit hardest by COVID-19 will benefit from these critical investments.”

HRSA-funded health centers are community-based and patient-directed organizations that deliver affordable, accessible, quality, and cost-effective primary health care to medically underserved communities and vulnerable populations, including high-need urban, rural, and frontier communities across the country. Health centers serve 1 in 5 people living in rural communities, and 1 in 11 people nationwide. More than 91% of health center patients are individuals or families living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, and nearly 63% are racial or ethnic minorities.

For detailed information on how this funding is being distributed to health centers, including an interactive map of which health centers will receive funding, please visit: https://bphc.hrsa.gov/program-opportunities/american-rescue-plan/awards. 

For information on ensuring equity in COVID-19 vaccine distribution, visit: https://www.hrsa.gov/coronavirus/health-center-program

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On March 19th, 2021, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—gave an address on the occasion of the signing of the Nation’s first single-country project with the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The FSM Climate Resilient Food Security Project, the result of diligent effort on behalf of Micronesia Conservation Trust and the GCF National Designated Authority Office in Palikir, with support from the Departments of Resources & Development, Environment, Climate Change, & Emergency Management, and Finance & Administration, the State Governments of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae, the College of Micronesia-FSM, The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Agency for International Development, et al., is a 9.4 million-dollar project of which nearly 8.6 million will be directly financed by the GCF.

Operating under the broader theme of Climate Change adaptation, the entirety of the FSM will benefit directly or indirectly from the project which focuses on climate resilient food security for farming households across the Nation. It is expected that approximately 68,250 Micronesian farmers will directly benefit from the project, with an additional 44,390 Micronesians benefiting indirectly.

The project is a comprehensive national effort to increase the resilience of vulnerable communities to food insecurity due to Climate Change, by improving access to climate information, investing in climate-smart agriculture and livelihood practices, and developing agricultural markets and value chains.

The project is the GCF’s first single-country project in the FSM, and its first project with the Micronesia Conservation Trust. It represents a milestone in delivering rapid financial support for building Climate Change adaptation and engages a wide spectrum of stakeholders at the Government, academic, and household levels.

“The Climate Resilient Food Security for Farming Households Across the FSM Project will be the first system-wide project of its kind in the FSM,” said President Panuelo. “It is country-owned and will remain country-driven, as national organizations will be the implementing and executing entities. This project will be targeting the most vulnerable to Climate Change to support their ability to withstand the multiple threats of Climate Change impacts.”

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On March 19th, 2021, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—sent a letter to the Honorable Debra Anne Haaland, the newly confirmed and first Native American Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), requesting the FSM’s membership in the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE). The letter was sent as a response by the Vice Speaker of the U.S. Territory of Guam, the Honorable Tina Muña-Barnes, requesting DOI’s Office of Insular Affairs to consider funding the WICHE annual membership fee for the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands, including the FSM, with the purpose of demonstrating the Nation’s enthusiastic endorsement of that request.

The rationale for the FSM’s membership in WICHE is simple: higher education is expensive—some citizens may argue excessively so—and FSM citizens studying abroad often dropout because they are not able to afford it, despite the FSM funding three million dollars ($3,000,000) annually for the FSM National Scholarship program. If the FSM is a member of WICHE, the practical result for the Nation’s students is that an FSM student would qualify for 150% of in-state tuition for eligible undergraduate programs, and in-state tuition for eligible graduate studies, significantly reducing the cost of these degrees.

FSM citizens disproportionately journey to the U.S. Territory of Guam, the U.S. State of Hawaii, the

U.S. State of Washington, and the U.S. State of Oregon to acquire their Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate degrees. These jurisdictions, along with Alaska, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, North Dakota, and South Dakota, are WICHE members. Thus, the FSM’s membership in WICHE would mean that an FSM student choosing to study in any of these jurisdictions would qualify for these significantly reduced tuition rates.

In addition to his letter to Secretary Haaland endorsing Guam’s request for OIA to fund the annual WICHE membership for the FSM, President Panuelo also wrote to His Excellency Surangel Whipps Jr., President of the Republic of Palau, His Excellency David Kabua, President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Honorable Lemanu Peleti Mauga, Governor of American Samoa, recommending that they, too, join WICHE, noting that such membership is beneficial to students as well as scholarship budgets.

“As a graduate of Eastern Oregon University,” President Panuelo said in a statement, “I am acutely aware of the value in achieving higher education and how it contributes to our Nation-building process. I look forward to building a productive working relationship with Secretary Haaland, and hope that our Nation’s students are able to enjoy the benefit of significantly reduced tuition at more than 160 participating universities and colleges as soon as possible.”

UNICEF

 

SUVA, Fiji, 24 March 2021 - UNICEF welcomes a US$9 million contribution from the Government and the people of Japan that will strengthen the vaccine cold chain, and the logistics capacity, to address the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic in ten countries in the Pacific region. These countries are: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

“In recognition of the importance of ensuring equitable access and swift distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the Government of Japan has decided to assist ten Pacific island countries. This assistance will provide the recipient countries with medical and cold chain equipment such as cold-storage facilities and transportation, as part of the ‘Last One Mile Support’ to ensure vaccination in each country through UNICEF,” said His Excellency, Mr. Fumihiro Kawakami, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Fiji. “I believe that this assistance will contribute to the safe delivery of vaccines in the recipient countries. It will further complement the efforts of the COVAX facility, to which Japan has announced its financial contribution of 200 million US dollars.”

UNICEF has been working with Pacific governments to help prevent the spread of the virus among communities, as well as supporting the vital procurement of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility.

These funds will strengthen the capacity of these countries’ governments to handle the COVID-19 pandemic, in the context of achieving universal health coverage, through the procurement of cold chain equipment and the strengthening of the institutional capacity to manage the equipment during the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines over a 12-month period throughout 2021–22.

“We thank the Government of Japan for its continued and strengthened partnership with UNICEF to support the Pacific region through the global pandemic,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Sheldon Yett. “We will continue to work with the host governments, WHO and other partners, to ensure their health system is well prepared to respond appropriately to the on-going threat of this pandemic.”

This funding is part of the broader Japanese Emergency Grant Aid of approximately US$41 million to 25 countries* in the Southeast and Southwest Asia and the Pacific.

FSM Information Services

 

hjghjgtyurPALIKIR, Pohnpei—On March 18th, 2021, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—attended the project launch and inception workshop for the new Inspiring Women’s Advancement Through Collective Action (IWA) program. Funded by the Government of the United States of America and implemented through the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the IWA is a $2,200,000 program with the intent to contribute towards increased local understanding, and demand, on removing barriers to gender equality in the FSM, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau, through diplomacy and galvanizing coordinated actions.

The intended outcomes of the IWA program are, firstly, that gender discrimination towards women in the workplace, women in business, and entrepreneurs, is reduced through community awareness and socioeconomic empowerment of women. Secondly, the IWA intends to ensure that project partners have increased capacity to take action against gender discrimination within their institution.

The IWA project includes numerous activities for women and youth, some of which include the creation of a Youth for Art initiative; the creation of a media influencer program; the creation of a Communication as Change campaign; a review of the regulatory landscape session; an emerging women leaders’ session; and competitive small grants to NGOs, youth-lead, and faith-based organizations to address gender discrimination, among many more. The FSM National Government strongly encourages citizens to review a video made by Her Excellency Carmen G. Cantor, Ambassador of the United States of America to the FSM, which is available here:

The project launch and inception workshop’s schedule included opening remarks from Lululeen Santos and Nathan Glancy, Consultant and Chief of Party of IOM respectively, the Honorable Somer Bessire-Briers, Charge’d’Affairs of the U.S. Embassy, and President Panuelo.

Prior to his remarks proper, President Panuelo addressed the proverbial elephant in the room—the COVID-19 Pandemic—and the Nation’s vaccination rate. Noting that, while Palau will reach an

adult vaccination rate of 70% by late April to early May, the FSM is currently at approximately 13%; thus, President Panuelo suggested, the Nation will be simultaneously requesting additional Johnson & Johnson vaccines from the U.S. for remote communities and islands, and may decide to tie citizens’ receipt of financial stimulus programming for low-income and elderly citizens with documentary evidence that said citizens have received their COVID-19 vaccine.

“If we mandate children to take certain vaccines before going to school for their safety and our Nation’s safety, it behooves our Nation’s adults to do the same before getting their financial stimulus,” President Panuelo said.

By USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs

 

Jan. 18, 2021

1000w q96PACIFIC OCEAN—The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) completed an Oceania transit and presence operation Jan. 18 interacting with partners and upholding commitments with the Republic of Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Papua New Guinea.

Russell conducted a brief stop for fuel in Majuro, RMI Jan. 7. After successfully completing their fueling and replenishment at Majuro, Russell conducted a Cooperative Deployment with two FSM National Police Maritime Surveillance Division patrol craft in the vicinity of Pohnpei, FSM. The ship completed its transit through Oceania, rich in fisheries, by patrolling the Compact of Free Association (COFA) states high seas pockets in order to discourage incidence of known illegal, unregulated, unreported (IUU) fishing.

“USS Russell is honored to work with COFA states to foster our enduring partnerships in the region,” said Cmdr. Ryan Rogers, Russell’s commanding officer. “Our operations showed our support to these fine nations in a wonderful region of the world that is rich with naval history.”

The COFA agreement establishes the relationships of free association between the United States and the three Pacific Island sovereign states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.

“All nations benefit from free and open access to the seas,” said Capt. Steve McDowell, commodore, Destroyer Squadron Twenty Three. “Together with our allies1000w q97 and partners, we are able to ensure maritime security and adherence to international rules and norms that have allowed all nations to continue to prosper. We’re extremely proud to operate with our COFA partners and to continue to enhance our strong partnership.”

Russell’s transit and operations across Oceania demonstrate the U.S. commitment to upholding its agreement with the COFA states, while also building trust with emerging strategic partners like PNG, in support of advancing international rules and norms of the high seas.

“My crew and I enjoyed the opportunity to conduct a Cooperative Deployment with USS Russell,” said Lt. Cmdr. Paulino Yangitesmal, commanding officer of FSS Palikir. “Even without COVID interrupting our ability to complete at sea training with like-minded partners, it is rare for us to meet up with a warship of this size and capability. We look forward to further opportunities as they become available.”

Russell, part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, is on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. 7th Fleet forces remain ready to respond to crisis in Oceania, supporting the region in event of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations, while supporting COFA commitments.

As the U.S. Navy's largest forward deployed fleet, U.S. 7th Fleet routinely operates between 50-70 ships and submarines and 140 aircraft with approximately 20,000 Sailors. 7th Fleet's area of operation spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South Pacific, providing security and stability to the region. 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security while conducting a wide-range of missions to support humanitarian efforts and uphold international laws and freedoms of the sea.

K Press Perspective

“During this sensitive time, it is important that citizens receive their information from trustworthy sources. The only sources you should receive your information from are the Risk Communication Committees from the National and State COVID-19 Task Forces, the National and State Public Information Offices, and State Public Radio Stations,” FSM President David Panuelo said during his address to the nation regarding the person who tested positively for COVID-19 aboard the MS Chief Mailo and that finding’s impact on the FSM.

Seemingly within moments after MS Chief Mailo arrived in waters off Pakin and radioed to the Pohnpei Port Authority asking for permission to dock for reprovisioning, the rumor mill cranked up. It didn’t reach full speed until someone, in advance of any official word, started the, in this case, absolutely correct rumor that one of the ship’s occupants had tested positive for COVID-19.  From that point on, the rumor machine revved up and hit its highest RPM’s.

One of the rumors was that seven people aboard the vessel were tested positive aboard the vessel. That was false. Another was that one of the ship’s occupants had jumped ship and swam to Sokehs island and authorities couldn’t find him.  That was patently false and the ship is still under heavy security. A person who had access to the Port, whether a PPA employee or not, said that the person who tested positive was at the isolation unit on shore in Dekehtik. He said he’d seen the person with his own eyes. Certainly he saw someone, but it wasn’t the person who had tested positive for COVID-19. That person is still aboard the MS Chief Mailo, isolated from shipmates in the dispensary. He may have seen medical responders entering quarantine, but the person with COVID-19 was not among that group.

The rumors picked up speed from their first telling to become the gospel according to the last person who heard them, embellished them, and retold them. Businesses closed on the strength of the rumors.  Grocery stores were suddenly packed.

If you’ll allow me the luxury of a moment of “Monday morning quarterbacking”, the “reliable sources” released nothing when they easily could have and probably should have. Even just a preliminary message confirming that, that though there was in fact one person in isolation aboard the vessel who had tested positively for COVID-19 aboard the vessel, no contact had been made with the public and that there was nothing to fear might have helped.  Probably not. People believe what they want to believe, more so when there is a vacuum of authoritative information, but it might have helped.

Instead, the messages came out only after several joint task force meetings. Unfortunately, when they did, some of the messages seemed to conflict with what could be demonstratively proved to be what actually

FSM Information Services

 

121221PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On January 12th, 2021, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—opened the first of a series of exploratory informational meetings between the FSM National Government and the Nation’s private sector to discuss the expansion of the Tourism Sector Mitigation Fund, frequently referred to as the FSM Economic Stimulus Package. The FSM Economic Stimulus Package is distinct from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program and upcoming social protection programs for low- income families, persons with disabilities, and more on the premise that its primary focus is on Government assistance to businesses in the private sector.

The purpose of these exploratory informational meetings is for the Government to hear from private sector businesses on how they have weathered during the COVID-19 Pandemic, and their view on how the Government can provide meaningful support to them.

The well-attended meeting began with the Nation’s macroeconomics advisor, Mr. Rob Solomon, describing the FSM Economic Stimulus Package thus far, and what recent legislation has done to change it.

The FSM Economic Stimulus Package was developed via Public Law 21-104 on April 3rd, 2020, with regulations issued by the President on May 4th, 2020. Approximately $15,500,000 of funding has  been secured for this purpose, with $12,000,000 sourced through support from the 21st FSM Congress directly, $500,000 from the Project Development Fund, and $3,000,000 through a grant from the Asian Development Bank.

Per Public Law 21-120, the formula for financial stimulus is equivalent to 100% of salaries and wages paid, 100% of social security paid, 100% of power and water utilities paid, and 100% of gross revenue tax

FSM Information Services & Pohnpei State Government/Enginkehlap Joint Press Release

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On January 6th, 2021, the MV Chief Mailo—a cargo and passenger vessel owned by the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), typically homeported in Chuuk State, entered Pohnpei State’s anchorage, inside Pohnpei’s lagoon. The vessel had previously left the FSM in late 2019 for drydock-based repairs in the Republic of the Philippines. The crew have been strictly confined to the ship since September 22nd, 2020. On January 7th, twelve (12) crew were tested for COVID-19. One (1) individual was tested twice and, on both occasions, positive for COVID-19. The FSM National and Pohnpei State Governments confirm that the case is classified as an imported case, and does not present any immediate risk of the virus spreading to the broader community. Before any National or State mandates take effect, together or separately, His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the FSM, and the Honorable Reed B. Oliver, Governor of Pohnpei State, will make certain all positive indications are validated.

The MV Chief Mailo is undergoing the same security protection regime as the MV Caroline Voyager did when it left Japan in early November 2020. The individual detected with COVID-19 was detected whilst in quarantine, and has had no contact with individuals in the community; thus, they do not present any immediate risk of the virus spreading to the broader Pohnpeian community. As of January 7th, 2021, the healthcare workers who performed the tests on the crew are quarantined at the Emergency Medical Unit (aka China Star Hotel) in Pohnpei State, and the crew remain in isolation on the MV Chief Mailo. The healthcare workers have been tested for COVID-19, and their results are negative.

National and State law enforcement and border protection staff are maintaining the ship’s security on a 24/7 schedule. Citizens and residents of Pohnpei State are requested to remain distant from the MV Chief

Pohnpei Enginkehlap News

 

December 19, 2020

Pohnpei—On December 18, 2020, T.H. Reed B. Oliver, Governor of Pohnpei State, signed Legislative Bill No. 129-20 into Public Law:

“A BILL FOR AN ACT AMENDING SECTION 6-205 OF PART J OF TITLE 26 OF THE POHNPEI CODE RELATIVE TO THE DESIGNATION OF TURTLE CONSERVATION ZONES, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES”

In his brief remarks, Governor Oliver thanked Rohsa (Mr. William Hawley) and Rohspein( Mrs. Marcella P. Hawley) for their support and important contributions to the designation of turtle conservation zones in Pohnpei. He thanked everyone involved for the support and cooperation from the Pohnpei State Government to the Non-Governmental Organizations represented at the signing.

Joining Governor Oliver to witness the signing of this important Bill into Law was Rohsa and Rohspein Kitti, Director of Resources and Development, Mr. Hubert Yamada, Administrator of the Office of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mr. Dahker Abraham, Special Assistant to the Governor, Mr. Kapilly Capelle, Mr. Eugene Joseph Executive Director of Conservation Society of Pohnpei, Wendolin Roseo Marquez, and Santiago Joab Jr. from Micronesia Conservation Trust and Ms. Elizabeth Derk, Director of Conservation and Planning from The Nature Conservancy.

Dr. Takuya Nagaoka (NGO Pasifika Renaissance)

Professor Peter J. Sheppard (University of Auckland)

dfghjkDo you know where the first Pohnpeian people came from? According to recent archaeological, linguistic, and DNA studies, the ancestors of Pacific islanders departed from Taiwan 5,000 years ago and reached Melanesia 3,200 years ago. Then they probably migrated from the southeast Solomon Islands-northern Vanuatu region to Pohnpei around 2,000 years ago, as some Pohnpeian legends also narrate early migrations from the south. To add new evidence on ancient Pohnpeian people’s movement at that time, we have just published an academic article in “The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology” that reports a stone adze (“sile” in Pohnpeian) found in Pohnpei was brought by early settlers or their immediate descendants from Melanesia, probably New Guinea, based on our geological analysis.

In 1977, the late Miquel Marquez, a member of the Ponape Historic Preservation Committee, found a stone adze in a pile of coral sand uploaded from a truck at the construction site of the new Awak Elementary School. The sand was brought from an underwater dredging site at Mesihsou, Madolenihmw. An American archaeologist, Dr. Steve Athens, published an academic article about this discovery in 1981 but reported it was made from local basalt rock.

Since ancient Pohnpeian people mostly made adzes from giant clams and other shells, hundreds of shell adzes were found at archaeological sites around Pohnpei. In contrast, stone adzes are very rare; only 13 examples were found so far and some of them were possibly brought from Melanesia and west Polynesia according to their shapes. The recent technical development in archaeological analyses in sourcing such ancient artifacts as stone adzes, volcanic glasses, and pottery has demonstrated that Pacific islanders voyaged around islands very extensively before European contact.

So, wondering about the origin of this rare stone adze from Mesihsou, we loaned the adze to conduct a detailed analysis on it at the University of Auckland in 2006, where Nagaoka was studying for his Ph.D. According to geological observation by several experts, it is not basalt but metamorphic rock, more specifically schist, which is not present in Pohnpei and Micronesia but in Melanesia. We conclude that New Guinea is the closest and most probable source of this adze. This result shows the adze was brought over 800 miles (1,300 km) and is the first artifact found in Micronesia that is scientifically believed to be transported from Melanesia.

This finding gives us some valuable insights. First, the find spot on a shallow reef on the coast suggests that it was recovered from a very early settlement site of around 2000 years ago when the immigrants or their immediate descendants still had a connection with their homeland in Melanesia.

Second, the settlement of previously uninhabited central and eastern Micronesia (Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae, the Marshalls, Kiribati) was achieved through intensive long-distance voyages, probably including two-way voyages between their homeland in Melanesia and newly settled Islands in Micronesia and among the latter islands.

Third, since a rare stone adze was probably a trading item, which required a long-distance voyage to obtain it, only limited persons in a community could access to it. In this circumstance, the large Mesihsou adze (7.5 inches/19 cm long) may have functioned as a status symbol.

Thus, the analysis of this stone adze provides us with important information for understanding the early Pohnpeian people’s movements during the largely unknown colonization period. Kalahngan en kupwuromwail for the Pohnpei State Historic Preservation Office’s staff (especially the late Jason Lebehn) and other people who assisted us in this project! (If you like to have a PDF version of the article, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Vital FSM Petroleum Corporation

 

Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia – On behalf of Vital FSM Petroleum Corporation (FSMPC), Chairman of the Board of Directors Mr. Faustino Yangmog extends warm greetings to our valued customers as the nation welcomes in the New Year, and is pleased to confirm that, while regional and international market prices have steadily risen in the past six months, prices throughout the Federated States of Micronesia have remained stable since May 2020.

“In April 2020, international oil prices fell significantly due to demand destruction caused by the controls introduced by governments in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. But since May 2020, domestic oil prices in the FSM have remained steady, with gas prices as low as $3.75 per gallon in some FSM states. We are very grateful to our customers in all four states for passing along up to 100% of the savings they’ve received from their wholesale purchases with us,” Chairman Yangmog explained.

“However,” he continued, “international oil prices have seen a gradual recovery impacted by a weakening US dollar and market demand, and neighboring islands like Guam, Palau and Majuro have seen the cost of gasoline and diesel follow the same upward trend. Guam motorists first saw pump prices jump $0.10 per gallon of gasoline mid-December, and another $0.10 this past week, to $3.88 per gallon of gasoline. We have held out price increases over the festive season and will continue to do so as long as we can.”

FSMPC Communications Officer Ms. Hannah-Marie Isaac reported that a market survey revealed, as of January 11, 2021, that Kosrae had the lowest pump price in the greater Micronesian region at $3.75 per gallon of unleaded gasoline, which was followed by Pohnpei at $3.85 per gallon. Gas prices in the FSMPC Chief Financial Officer Mr. Johnny Adolph advised that should prices remain at these elevated levels, consumers should eventually expect a gradual increase. “In 2020, as a result of lower international air travel and reduced maritime activities, we experienced a significant reduction in domestic sales by approximately 20%. We will continue to do our best to keep prices in the FSM stable, as low as reasonably practical and within $0.35 of Guam’s pump price throughout 2021.”

For inquiries, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Xtera

 

January 14, 2021

POHNPEI, Federated States of Micronesia- Federated States of Micronesia and ALLEN, Texas, Jan. 14, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Xtera, Inc., a provider of innovative subsea fiber optic solutions, announces a new contract with FSM Telecommunications Corporation (FSMTC). FSMTC is the premium telecommunications service provider for Pohnpei, Kosrae, Chuuk, and Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia. The contract will upgrade the Hantru-1 Submarine Cable System between Pohnpei and Guam to enable FSMTC to meet the growing demand for broadband services.

Xtera’s® contract with FSMTC provides new capacity using Xtera’s Nu-Wave™ Optima Submarine Line Terminal Equipment (SLTE) with state-of-the-art coherent technology. Xtera’s equipment makes it possible to upgrade existing submarine systems with the latest photonic technologies. Xtera’s solution offers seamless integration with the existing equipment and enables a significant capacity increase of the submarine cable, not only at much lower cost per wavelength than the original installed equipment, but also with enhanced functionality.

“The upgrade of Hantru-1 with Xtera’s technology makes it possible to extend the system far beyond its original design capacity,” said Fredy Perman, Chief Executive Officer of FSMTC. “This upgrade will enable us to continue to offer an expansive service portfolio to address the ever increasing customer demand for broadband services.”

Keith Henderson, Chief Executive Officer of Xtera, comments, “We are extremely proud to have been selected by FSMTC to upgrade Hantru-1. It further demonstrates the value of Xtera’s technology and engineering to significantly increase capacity on pre-existing systems in a very cost-effective way.”

Embassy of the United States of America Kolonia

As part of the United States Government’s commitment to the safety and security of the citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), we have provided thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses at no cost.

Because of our special and enduring relationship, the FSM was one of the first international partners with which we shared the vaccine that will fight the spread of COVID-19.   

We are dedicated to ensuring the FSM is prepared to respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic and will provide thousands of doses of the Moderna vaccine to the Freely Associated States.

We are aware that all three Freely Associated States opted to receive the Moderna vaccine due to temperature storage concerns and are pleased they have begun inoculating frontline workers. 

The United States, through the Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, Department of the Interior, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, and many other agencies, will continue to honor our commitments to our partners in the FSM in our combined efforts to support a free and open Indo-Pacific region. 

Together, we have hope that we will see a healthier and safer world in 2021.

New World Bank study examines the pandemic’s impacts on Pacific labour markets while underscoring regional opportunities and policy responses

World Bank

 

SYDNEY, January 18, 2021 – While the Pacific and Papua New Guinea (PNG) have avoided some of the worst health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the closure of international travel and lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19 have had serious impacts on employment, international labour mobility, and livelihoods across the region.

                A new World Bank report , Pacific Island Countries in the era of COVID 19: Macroeconomic impacts and job prospects details the potential extent of job losses and labour market impacts in the region, while also suggesting how the Pacific may benefit from changing employment trends and other opportunities. 

                Fewer local jobs and sluggishness in new international opportunities are all taking their toll on labour markets in the seven Pacific countries examined in the report (Fiji, Kiribati, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu). Of these, countries that are more reliant on international tourism such as Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa have borne the brunt of these effects, with tourism-related employment dropping by an estimated 64 percent in Vanuatu and unemployment claims in June 2020 nearly tripling the 2019 total in Fiji. Employment figures in countries where tourism plays a smaller role are also sobering, with job

By Department of Health Services

And Alvie B. Cabañez

 

hhggPohnpei—In April of 2020, as part of the COVID-19 preparedness efforts, the Pohnpei Division of Primary Health Services decided to decentralize some of its services by providing more services at the local dispensaries situated around the island.  The effort has reinforced the efforts of frontline medical personnel to provide a better health care environment to the community.

Organizers at the Non-Communicable Disease Program decided also to add to those services by providing a series of workshops both to reinforce the ongoing COVID-19 campaign and to provide education and awareness of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).  NCDs include cardiovascular (heart) diseases, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, gout, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), major killers of Pohnpei residents.

Part of the NCD Programs initiative was to reinforce the more than 20-year-old Micronesia One Diet Fits All Today (MODFAT) nutritional guidelines.  Though the MODFAT guidelines have been in existence for a long time, they are not always observed in daily habits.  The MODFAT guidelines were created as a way to categorize and educate on the benefits of a healthy diet that adjusts to local product availability.

Research has shown that individuals with pre-existing conditions such as NCDs could develop severe or even fatal outcomes from COVID-19.  Knowing that, the NCD Program personnel initiated a pilot project of a series of educational workshops for patients who visit the dispensaries.

Organizers planned and presented two types of workshops. One is a lecture on SARS-CO-V-2 and COVID-19 with an aim of raising the awareness of patients from far-flung areas on the virus with particular

By Pohnpei Enginkehlap News

 

January 12, 2021

Pohnpei—On Monday, January 11, 2021, T.H. Reed B. Oliver, Governor of Pohnpei State met the Committee to Wait on the Governor from the 10th Pohnpei State Legislature in the Governor’s Office, Peilapalap, Kolonia. Heading the Committee was Senator Jack Harris from Kolonia who is also the Chairman of the 10th Pohnpei State Legislature’s Judicial and Governmental Operations Committee. Accompanying Senator Harris was Senator Hudson Abraham from Madolenihmw and Senator Helgena Johnson from Mwoakilloa.

After welcoming the Committee and thanking them for their visit, Governor Oliver noted that the Oliver/Perman administration will soon be celebrating it’s one year anniversary on January 13, 2021. He thanked the Speaker, T.H. Ausen Lambert, and the 10th Pohnpei State Legislature for their support and cooperation during this eventful first year.

Governor Oliver informed the Committee of his nomination of Akilino Susaia to the Joint Committee on Compact Review and Planning to represent Pohnpei in replacement for the late Rev. Bethwel Henry. The appointment has been transmitted to the Office of the President for nomination. Governor Oliver added that nominations for the Boards of Pohnpei Utilities Corporation (PUC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Pohnpei Housing Authority are forthcoming. He also spoke of Pohnpei State’s involvement with the Blue Prosperity Coalition and discussed the $15 million economic stimulus package from the FSM Congress and an additional $14 million from the Asian Development Bank to support the nation’s response to COVID-19.

While on the subject of COVID-19, Governor Oliver updated the Committee on the MV Chief Mailo’s situation, noting that Chairman of the COVID-19 Task Force, Mr. Wincener David, is the focal point moving forward with Lt. Governor Perman assisted the Department of Health and Social Services. Lastly, Governor Oliver shared the upcoming Student Takeover Day, scheduled to be held on February 23, 2021. The aim of this activity is to give our youth an experience of working in Government and inspire them to someday take over.

The Committee thanked Governor Oliver for his updates and requested for further clarification on the MV Chief Mailo. Governor Oliver reassured the Senators that while there is one positive case onboard, the MV Chief Mailo remains at sea and no crew member has disembarked. As to the health workers who tested the crew, Governor Oliver also reassured the Senators that the health crew followed the prescribed protocol when they boarded the MV Chief Mailo. The health crew was in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), minimized their stay onboard the vessel, properly disposed of their PPE, and went into quarantine on that same day when test results showed a positive case. He further reassured the Senators that they have been tested and have been found to be negative and will be re-tested after seven days of quarantine.

Joining Governor Oliver was Special Assistant to the Governor, Mr. Kapilly Capelle. Joining the Committee to wait on the Governor, was Legislative staff, Ms. Yumi Carl.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

January 16, 2021

FSM—The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has said that the FSM’s assessment of a 10 percent income tax and a 15 percent deduction for Social Security contributions on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits are not an allowable expense under the grant that provided those benefits.  The grant was provided by DOL to the FSM on the basis of Section 2102 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.

On January 11, FSM President David Panuelo sent a cover letter to the FSM Congress along with a copy of the DOL letter along with a legal opinion issued by the FSM Department of Justice. He urged Congress to seriously consider the repeal of the law that established the tax on PUA benefits. He wrote that henceforth, recipients of the PUA will receive the full amount of assistance with no tax being deducted and any funds previously withheld for that purpose will be released to the beneficiaries.

It concludes that the FSM Department of Finance and Administration (DoFA) must reimburse to PUA beneficiaries the amount of the tax it has assessed against their benefits and to cease imposing those assessments on PUA beneficiaries. DoFA must provide written assurance outlining the details about how and when the funds will be refunded to PUA beneficiaries, due the DOL National Office in Washington DC by the end of January. DOL says that if it determines that FSM does not have an adequate system in place for ensuring that PUA is paid as required by the CARES Act, it will be forced to not only terminate the agreement and also to return any funds that are not needed or that were used for other purposes such as tax assessments.

The DOL letter which was dated December 31, 2020 and transmitted by a US Diplomatic Note to the FSM government on January 4 was in response to a DoFA query asking whether FSM is permitted to make the deductions from the individual benefit payments.

The amendment to FSM law requiring the deduction of the two taxes specifically applicable to PUA benefits provided by the U.S. went into effect on July 2, 2020.  The letter says that it is DOL’s understanding that since that time the FSM has been collecting the deductions from PUA benefit checks before benefit checks are issued to recipients. DOL is also under the impression that FSM is holding those deductions in a separate trust account pending DOL’s resolution of whether such assessments are allowable under the CARES Act.

“DOL has determined that the tax assessments and Social Security deductions are not allowable costs. Payment of these assessments/deductions is not consistent with the purpose of the grant, which is to mitigate the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic by paying PUA benefits to covered individuals”, the letter said. “…On April 3, 2020, FSM entered into an Agreement Implementing the Relief for Workers

Crew members isolated and government says there is no immediate danger

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

January 17, 2021

Pohnpei, FSM—On January 8, the FSM could no longer say that it was entirely COVID-19 free. On that day, Pohnpei Medical responders tested all crew members and passengers aboard the MS Chief Mailo and found one person who tested positive for the virus.  The President’s information officer said that the fact that the positive case was found and the person was isolated before he could come into contact with anyone except his shipmates is a testimony to the effectiveness of the preparations the various task forces had made. “Everything worked the way it was supposed to work,” he said.

Among the few passengers was Melson Dillidy of Polowat, Chuuk who was found drifting alone in a small boat and rescued by Philippine fishermen on April 9, 2020. He was 10 years old at the time and has been in the Philippines since that time awaiting repatriation after his harrowing ordeal.

On Sunday evening, January 3, 2021, the MS Chief Mailo arrived in waters off Pakin carrying 12 crew members, the bare minimum number for safe operation of the vessel. At least one non-crew member was also aboard. The vessel had arrived straight from General Santos City, Philippines after their departure on December 24.  According to Pohnpei State Governor Reed Oliver in a face to face conversation and his Public Information Officer in online conversations, the Chief Mailo’s radio call to the Pohnpei Port Authority on Sunday evening saying that they were short on fuel, food and water was the first word that Pohnpei officials, and particularly the Pohnpei COVID-19 Task Force had of their eminent arrival.

The Chief Mailo crew asked for permission to dock for resupply.  Having no information on the condition of the passengers, the COVID-19 Task Force denied that request. However, after a series of emergency

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On January 9th 2020 Postmaster General of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Ginger Porter Mida, informed the Office of the President that the United States Postal Service (USPS) will be increasing postage rates effective January 26th, 2020. Per the terms of the Compact of Free Association, as Amended, the FSM Postal Service is obligated to match (or be more expensive than) USPS postage rates.

“The definite rate has not been decided yet,” Postmaster General Mida wrote in a letter. “I will update [the Office of the President] as soon as we have received the increased rate—but for now, we would like to inform the general public that there will be a rate increase.”

Yap State Government

To our Dear Friends in Yap,

We will never be able to individually express our gratitude to the people of Yap, but we do want you to know how very much we appreciate you. We were overwhelmed with your kindness and generosity to our family while on the island. The lovely Memorial Service was one of the many ways you expressed your kindness to us. Words cannot express how touched we were with the outpouring of friends that attended the service and the amount of work that was poured into the preparation for the service. Your love for Rachelle and our family was displayed in so many acts of kindness—almost too many to mention.  There is a chance we will forget to mention our appreciation to some and for that we sincerely apologize.  We would like to express thanks to the following:

Those that provided all the tents and chairs for the service

The many people that set up all the tents, chairs and platform

Jeff and his company for providing cold water to everyone that attended

The sports complex for providing the platform

YMA for making the platform so beautiful with the lovely flowers

Thank you to all that spoke and gave honor to Rachelle: Pastor Mark Zimmer (Rachelle’s Pastor), Pastor John Zimmer (Rachelle’s former Youth Pastor), Consular Chief Tony Alexander (U.S. Embassy), Andy Waayan (AG’s Criminal Investigator), Laura Tiningdad and Martina Reichhardt (YMA), Mary Layan (representing coworkers of Rachelle), Leilani Lemaiyeg (representing friends of Rachelle), Norbert Kalau (Pacific Mission Aviation), Governor Henry Falan (Yap State Government)

Those who blessed us with music: Outer Island Church Choir, Harvest Baptist Bible College, Yap Baptist Youth and Children’s choir, Kids of Ruu Community and ALL the musicians

Diane and Jamie Zimmer for coordinating the Memorial Service and overseeing all the details, making the program and printing the bulletin

Yap Baptist for all their work on the program and printing all the programs. Coordinating the space to hold the service and the parking for all the vehicles

Thank you to the Manta Ray for the lovely accommodations and kindness to shown to us during our stay in Yap. You treat your guests so well!

The government of Yap for the provision of a vehicle to use during our stay

Local police, National Police for all our work on the case

The FBI and ALL their excellent work, their professionalism, kindness, protection and support to our family

Satawal Choir who sang to our family

Your expression of love through notes and gifts, words of encouragement, and many prayers

We know that our loss is your loss too. Thank you for making the Memorial Service a time for us to come together with you and grieve together over a beautiful life that ended so early. We are thankful that we have been able to meet so many of you that had a part in our daughter’s life.

Sincerely,

Tom, Tammy, Ryan, Emily, and Nick Bergeron

Simon and Deesha Haemmerling

by Xinyi Huang

08 January 2020

“Art is much less important than life, but what a poor life without it!”

-Robert Motherwell

An Island's Christmas Carol is the third production of the Pohnpei Players, a theatrical arts group in Pohnpei led by a wonderful and talented couple, Kristi and Wayne Parker. In 2017, their debut, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, embarked the journey to promote theater and arts in Pohnpei. In their Directors' notes, Kristi and Wayne gladly shared their incentive behind the successful Pohnpei Players, "Our hope…is to teach and train enough people so that one day, others will be able to take over and continue this great work for and with the community…we pray it'll be a blessing to many here, as it's already been to our family."

The show itself is adapted from Charles Dickens' “A Christmas Carol”. It includes Act 1, Act 2, and a short 15-minute intermission. A classic Christmas tale with recognized literacy value, A Christmas Carol tells the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge, an elderly cynical miser who is visited by the ghost spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future. After these visits, Scrooge is transformed into a kinder and gentler man.

All of the cast have been given a suitable role to play, and many succeeded playing dual or multiple roles. In my case, the assigned roles to me were Belle, young Ebeneezer's fiancee, and Mrs. Cratchit, wife of Ebeneezer's employee. I found myself fully indulged in this delightful Christmas tale of redemption and reunion, sympathizing with characters like Tiny Tim (a poor crippled child of Mrs.Cratchit) and Want and

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On January 6th, 2020, His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), affirmed on behalf of the Nation that the wildfires presently devastating Australia—one of the FSM’s closest friends—are a humanitarian crisis that the global community ought to respond to. President Panuelo advised that he will be working with the 21st FSM Congress to determine how the Nation can extend a helping hand to a close friend and development partner.

While wildfires in Australia during summer months are not uncommon due to the country’s enormous land area and relative aridity, December 2019 and the first several days in January 2020 have seen fires grow and expand at an unprecedented level. To the knowledge of the FSM National Government, as of January 6th, 2020 approximately nineteen (19) people have died from the smoke and the flames, as well as five hundred million (500,000,000) animals. The more than two hundred (200) active fires have generated a smoke plume that is reportedly larger than the FSM, including its entire Exclusive Economic Zone, and more than forty-eight thousand (48,000) square kilometers of land have been destroyed.

“The fires in Australia are equivalent to every island in the FSM burning—not just at once, and not just twice or even three times, but more than one hundred times each,” President Panuelo said. “An area the size of the U.S. States of Vermont and New Hampshire combined, or the Japanese Island of Kyushu, or the Chinese Island of Hainan, has been completely devastated. Communities full of people that our Nation knows as very dear friends are being hurt by these fires.”

Australia, among other means of assistance, aids the FSM’s maritime security regime through the provision of material support (e.g. the building and gifting of patrol boats) and training. Additionally, Australian citizens throughout the Nation serve in the FSM’s education, health, and other sectors, through the Australian Volunteers International (AVI) program.

“I call on our friends and the global community to please help Australia during this time of crisis,” the President continued. “And it absolutely IS a crisis. I can’t imagine any other word to describe people losing their homes and their livelihood, and the very Earth itself being robbed of its precious life.”

At the time of this release, President Panuelo advised staff within the FSM National Government to setup a meeting with the Australian Embassy to express the Nation’s sympathies and condolences for the lives lost and the unprecedented damage that’s occurred to Australia.

Embassy of the Federated States of Micronesia in Washington, D.C.

 

December 20, 2019

36865388 6gbpged3otFBI National Academy, Quantico, V.A. – On December 20, 2019, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, held its Two Hundred Seventy-Eight (278th Session) Commencement Exercise where over 200 participants graduated to join the club of distinguished graduates of the Academy. Captain Bronson B. Martin of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) National Police was among those graduating officers. FSM’s participation at the esteemed Academy was made possible through continued cooperation and collaboration of both the U.S. Government and the FSM Government through their respective embassies.

Also graduating with Captain Martin from the Micronesian region was Officer Recheked M. Recheked of the Republic of Palau Bureau of Public Safety. Captain Martin as an alumnus of the Academy proudly joins his father and former FSM Congressman Mr. Berney Martin, who graduated from the Academy in 1984 at the Academy’s 138th Session. Captain Martin’s achievement was a personal tribute, having now fulfilled his childhood dream of following the footsteps of his father to the Academy, as much as it was a call of duty to perform for his country, the Federated States of Micronesia.

In attendance to witness the graduation ceremony were staff of the FSM Embassy in D.C. represented by First Secretary Raleigh Welly; Chief Hilario Bermanis Jr., of the FSM Department of Justice, National Police; and families and friends of Captain Martin. The Embassy of the Federated States of Micronesia in D.C. wishes to congratulate Captain Bronson B. Martin on his accomplishment as a graduate of the U.S. FBI National Academy.

Facts of China’s Xinjiang Issue

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On January 8th, 2020, His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and the Honorable Yosiwo P. George, Vice President of the FSM, met with the Board of Directors and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the FSM Petroleum Corporation (FSMPC), more commonly referred to as Vital. The purpose of the meeting was to update the President on matters such as the proposed FSMPC/Vital Transformation Act, the current state of the Integrated Coconut Processing Facility in the FSM State of Chuuk, the registration of farming cooperative micro enterprises, and more. The primary outcomes of the meeting were the President’s renewed vigor towards advocating for the FSMPC/Vital Transformation Act, the directive to develop a National Coconut Export Strategy, and the reinforcement of the FSM National Government’s confidence in FSMPC/Vital to enhance the Nation’s energy security and promotion of economic development.

The FSMPC/Vital Transformation Act is a proposed Bill for an Act that wouldn’t fundamentally alter FSMPC/Vital’s mission of delivering affordable, accessible, and high quality energy products and services, but would elementally evolve that mission to include a focus on renewable, sustainable, and clean energy (e.g. solar energy) in addition to its present mandate to provide petroleum-based energy products and services. President Panuelo advised that he has directed the Department of Resources & Development, the Department of Environment, Climate Change, & Emergency Management (DECEM), and other stakeholder agencies within the FSM National Government’s Executive Branch to do the appropriate advocacy work to appeal to the 21st FSM Congress to review and, ideally, vote for the Transformation Act to become law.

It was noted that the Transformation Act, if passed, may play a role in FSMPC/Vital’s capacity to become accredited with the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Such accreditation would strongly enhance the corporation’s capacity to attract grants and additional investments, such as the contemporary partnership with SoftBank Energy, Ltd.

“We’re hoping that the Transformation Act will allow us to evolve from a fuel-based electricity supplier to a…cheaper, greener solution,” CEO Jared Morris said to President Panuelo.

CEO Morris also spoke in detail about how FSMPC/Vital has been expanding its Pohnpei-based coconut product line, in large part through the solidification of a reliable network of suppliers.

“I’m pleased to report that in the last 12 months we’ve been able to register small businesses with the registrar…[and we] have five farmer groups in Pohnpei who have already incorporated as small, micro

FSM Information Services

 

15462PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On December 24th, 2019, the FSM Postal Service through Postmaster General Ginger Porter Mida confirmed that the Vaka Motu WAA’QAB completed its final delivery of Christmas packages to the island of Satawal, one of the remote neighboring islands of the FSM State of Yap. On December 16th, 2019, the Postal Service departed Yap proper.

The Postal Service, through partnership with Okeanos Foundation for the Sea, also sailed from Pohnpei proper to the islands of Sapwuahfik, Nukuoro, and Kapingamarangi to deliver Christmas packages, leaving Pohnpei on December 10th, 2019, and returning on December 21st, 2019.

Both Vaka Motus were filled with Christmas gifts, food, and regular mail parcels.

The FSM National Government extends its appreciation to the Honorable Marcelo K. Peterson, Governor of the State of Pohnpei, the Honorable Henry S. Falan, Governor of the State of Yap, and the Okeanos for the Sea Foundation for their support in making the FSM Postal Services’ Christmas delivery mission a success.

Citizens desiring a similar service in Chuuk State are encouraged to advocate for Chuuk State’s acquisition of one or more Vaka Motu canoes.

For more information, the FSM Postal Service can be contacted at:

  • • Pohnpei—+691-320-2614
  • • Yap—+691-350-2197
  • • Kosrae—+691-370-2057
  • • Chuuk—+691-330-2737

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On January 9th, 2020, His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), met with the Honorable Reed B. Oliver, Lieutenant Governor and Governor-Elect of Pohnpei State, and the Honorable Feliciano Perman, Lieutenant Governor-Elect, in a meeting to discuss the upcoming Pohnpei State Government’s interest in National-State programming alignment, recommendations for an Honorary Consul of the FSM in the State of Israel, and the upcoming State & National Leadership Conference tentatively scheduled between April and May 2020. The Honorable Joses R. Gallen, Secretary of the FSM Department of Justice, also attended the meeting, whose primary outcome was the broad agreement that alignment of projects and programming—where possible—between the National and State Governments should be encouraged, with the specific idea of FSM National Police forces augmenting State Police forces in their execution of relevant duties, such as traffic citations.

“Mr. President,” Governor-Elect Oliver said, “I am hopeful that the FSM National Government and Pohnpei State Government can cooperate on the alignment of projects. As we move forward with our new Government, which will have its joint inauguration [on Monday January 13th, 2020], we will be sharing with you the things that we do and would also like to see what we can do with
[the National] Government, together.”

“The more we talk, the better for our citizens,” President Panuelo said, who described how the FSM National Government—through the Nation’s bilateral relationship with the People’s Republic of China (China)—accepted ten million dollars of aid for improving the Pohnpei State Government Complex. “We signed six agreements in China, one of which is the renovation.”

Governor-Elect Oliver noted that the current plan is for Pohnpei State Government to vacate its current location, on the premise that upcoming renovations will including electrical and other work that require

Takuro and Adam FSM Boxing 2The Australian Embassy congratulates the FSM Boxing Association’s Fighting Fit: Increasing female participation in Boxing in FSM project - a recent grant recipient of our Direct Aid Program (DAP).  Second Secretary and Consul Takuro Steele presents a $11,570.00 cheque to Coach, Adam Milburn. 

The project seeks to implement a multi-dimensional approach to raise awareness, educate, improve equipment and facilities, and provide greater opportunities to train and compete locally and internationally. Boxing training is a fun, low cost, inclusive and effective way to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases in the community. Boxing training can increase awareness of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, competition and teamwork, and can empower young women with the self-discipline and confidence required to become role models and future leaders in the local community.

DAP is a flexible, small grants scheme for development activities for up to USD $20,000. DAP applications can be submitted year-round. For more information and to apply online, visit www.fsm.embassy.gov.au

Alvie B. Cabañez

Kaselehlie Press Volunteer Contributor

image001For over a decade, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) successfully conducted the annual Holiday Hoop’s Tournament last December 22- December 31, 2019. The purpose of the tournament is to provide socialization among student athletes and to keep them busy with basketball and away from alcohol and drugs.

All the games were played at the public gym during the week long tournament. It was highlighted by the exhibition game of the team’s coaches versus the technical committees. The awarding ceremony commenced immediately after the boy’s championship game between Chuuk High School (CHS) and Xavier School, where CHS won. The girl’s championship was played at an earlier match where Pohnpei Islands Central School (PICS) defeated Calvary Christian Academy (CCA).

All throughout the boy’s championship match, CHS has yet again proved how strong and defensive team they were. But Xavier School didn’t give up without a gallant fight. Both teams were neck and neck towards the end of the second quarter. However, on the second half of the match CHS pulled away with fifteen points that silenced the Xavier fans.

With the high-flying, Terno Phylon scoring almost at will, the Chuuk team steadily pulled away until they practically settled the issue with five minutes left in the fourth quarter when their lead ballooned to twenty points from the 3-point zone, well-placed pass, and one-handed alley-oop finish.

Athleticism, speed, strength, and talent, all of those are the true keys to becoming a good basketball player, but when you add creativity to that mix, that is when the good become great. These attributes were shown by the student athletes anchored by their passion for the sports.

Special awards were given to outstanding players who showcased leadership and sportsmanship inside and outside the court. In the Boy’s Division; KN and Praiser Edmund from Chuuk High School, Tabu

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

January 10, 2020

FSM—Supreme Court Justice Larry Wentworth to hear motions to dismissed filed by the defendants in the complaint that Janet Semes Panuelo filed against them related to the use of the term “First Lady” in reference to Patricia Edwin.  The hearing will be at the Supreme Court chambers in Palikir from 10:00 to 10:30 on January 16.

Attorney Salomon Saimon is representing President David W. Panuelo and Tricia Edwin.  FSM Attorney General Joses Gallen is representing the FSM Government, the FSM Public Information Office, FSM Department of Foreign Affairs, and the FSM Congress.  Both attorneys have filed motions to dismiss on behalf of their clients.

Attorney Marstella Jack has filed an opposition to those motions.

Secretary Gallen’s motion to dismiss the claims that relate to the government and its offices contains arguments supporting his claim that all claims against his government clients should be dismissed.  “…the causes of action alleged by the Plaintiff against (his government clients) all share a common and fatal flaw: they assume that branches of this government have a collective duty to police the statements of the executive when they concern his private life. No such duty exists, nor has one ever existed. It is not the job of Congress to choose the President's partner, no more than it is the Judiciary's.” 

Gallen’s motion says that the plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.  He argues that the claim of tortious interference with a marriage contract does not apply since marriage contracts are fundamentally non-economic in nature, and are therefore outside the scope of tortious interference.

He argues that the claim that his clients acted to cause intentional infliction of emotional distress by “validating…Patricia Edwin’s false representation as First Lady of the FSM cannot legally be supported.  “In

Legislature’s bill to ban harvests for the next five years on Governor’s desk for consideration

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

January 10, 2020

Pohnpei—On Wednesday afternoon of this week, the Supreme Court verbally ruled to deny Young Sun International Trading Corporation’s motion to dismiss and to keep the Temporary Restraining Order in place that bars the harvest of sea cucumbers. Though the ruling was verbal, Justice Mayceleen D. Anson said that since the issues under discussion were complex she would also be issuing a formal written ruling.

Anson scheduled a hearing to consider the issuance of a permanent injunction for 2:00 this afternoon after press time.

Attorney Salomon Saimon had submitted a motion to dismiss on behalf of his client Young Sun International Trading Corporation, arguing that the FSM Supreme Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction in the matter, for failure of the plaintiffs to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and for issue preclusion.  He further argued that the case must be dismissed because the Plaintiffs lack jurisdiction because their guardian, attorney Marstella Jack was improperly appointed.  He said that the parts of the Convention of the Rights of the Child are inapplicable to the subject at hand.  He also argued that the issue of the contract between the State and Young Sun for sea cucumber harvests had already been legally decided on its merits and therefore could not be brought up again in another case by another plaintiff.

In fact, the Mwolen Wahu dropped its claims in the case they had previously filed against Young Sun and the State.  They dropped it before the FSM Supreme Court could rule on the merits of the case so there is no previous ruling that would bar Jack’s young clients from filing a claim.

During Wednesday’s hearing Jack said that her clients were not asking the court to consider whether the law allowing for sea cucumber harvests is Constitutional.  “We have no issue with the law,” she said, “only with its improper implementation.”

She told the Court that on the 20th of December the Pohnpei State Legislature had passed a new bill governing sea cucumber harvests that if signed into law would establish a moratorium on sea cucumber

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

January 7, 2020

IMG 1193FSM—The 24 elected members of the Fourth Constitutional Convention were seated this morning in the chambers of the FSM Congress in Palikir, Pohnpei.

Over the next 30-45 days, the members of the Constitutional Convention will meet to discuss issues of import to the Nation’s citizens, with the overarching goal of proposing—where deemed necessary—amendments to the Constitution. Amendments proposed by the Convention will be put to a public plebiscite vote requiring the assent of 75 percent of the voters in 75 percent of the FSM States before passage.

This morning, President David Panuelo served as the Temporary President of the Constitutional Convention until after FSM Supreme Court Chief Justice Dennis K. Yamase issued the delegates’ oaths of office and the sworn members elected their own President, former FSM Vice President Redley Killion of Chuuk.

“An important opportunity,” President Panuelo said, “inscribed into our highest law of the Nation, so as to ensure preservation and maintenance of the rights of the people, is the right of our citizens to be able to once again ask this fundamental question: how can we make things better for our country? This question is amplified at this very moment for delegates to ponder on and think about. This question, among others, must guide every action we take.”

“Our Constitution was drafted by our Founding Fathers in such a manner that makes it very difficult for any change to happen,” President Panuelo said. “The threshold of 75% approval by the voting population in three of our four states [for proposed amendments] is a very tall order. I ask and implore upon you that we be practical…because if we are overambitious…it can be lost in the translation and public awareness process.”

After his election as President of the 4th Constitutional Convention, President of the Convention Killion also gave some brief remarks highlighting the importance of cooperation and reaffirming the notion that the

Habele Outer Island Education Fund

 

December 17, 2020

332211Yap, FSM—Hundreds of small islands are scattered across the vast Western Pacific Ocean. They are home to some of the most remote students on the planet.

Diverse in culture and language, these far-flung picturesque islands are strategically situated. The Federated States of Micronesia are the geopolitical crossroads of the Pacific. The islands’ dramatic role in centuries of global politics obscures persistent challenges of isolation, dispersion, and limited resources.

Schools across Micronesia need books for their school-based libraries, which serve both students and members of the community at large. The need is especially great in the remote outer islands which are strung between the larger population centers and state capitals. Staff and students at Pearl Harbor Elementary School resolved to help.

Eauripik is one such atoll, in the Micronesian State of Yap. Eauripik is home to 114 people living on less than a tenth of a square mile of land. The atoll is visited by cargo ships only a few times a year. It lies 390 milies southeast of Yap Proper and 480 miles south of the US Territory of Guam. Despite its small size and isolation, the Island has a reputation within Micronesia for having hardworking, academically minded people. Tiny Eauripik was home to the nation’s second president, the first native born Micronesian Catholic priest, and one of the nation’s most renowned ship captains.

The Pearl Harbor Elementary School, on Moanalua Ridge near Pearl Harbor, has donated books to help the readers of Eauripik. In November they began working with John Yoshimori, a volunteer with the nonprofit “Habele.”

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—Through the Great Friendship between the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the People’s Republic of China (China), on December 10th, 2020, the Honorable Livingston A. Taulung, Secretary of the Department of Health & Social Affairs and Chairman of the FSM COVID-19 Task Force, received His Excellency Huang Zheng, Ambassador of China, in a handover ceremony for an additional fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) of assistance to aid the Nation’s COVID-19 preparation, mitigation, and adaptation efforts.

“On behalf of the People and Government of the FSM, I extend our continued appreciation to the People and Government of China for their support to our Nation during the time of this COVID- 19 Pandemic,” Secretary Taulung said. “China has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars, personal protection equipment, and the thirty containerized isolation rooms, all of which have dramatically increased our medical capacity. Like all Chinese assistance, this humanitarian help comes without any sort of caveat—it’s just genuine help from a genuine partner, and we appreciate it so very much.”

Complements Interior Ocean Program Work and U.S. Efforts in Ocean Research, Education, Technology, and Marine Debris Removal

Office of the Assistant Secretary

Insular and International Affairs 

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech today applauded President Donald J. Trump for signing three important oceans-related bills passed by Congress: the National Sea Grant College Program Amendments Act of 2020, the Digital Coast Act, and the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act. 

“These three pieces of legislation are the latest actions by President Trump to support ocean health and technology,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech, “all of which are critical to and complement the work that we do at the Department of the Interior with other federal partners in support of ocean, coastal, and marine resources health for the benefit of all Americans.” 

 

On December 18, 2020, President Trump signed all three bills into law as follows:

The S. 910, National Sea Grant College Program Amendments Act of 2020, now Public Law 116-221, reauthorized the National Sea Grant College Program through fiscal year 2024, through which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) supports university-based programs that focus on studying, conserving, and effectively using U.S. coastal resources. It also modified the Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program.

The S.1069, Digital Coast Act, now Public Law No. 116-223, revised the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Digital Coast program for critical coastal management and data tracking for the ocean and the Great Lakes coasts.

The S.1982, Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, now Public Law No. 116-224, established a nongovernmental Marine Debris Foundation and a prize competition for the "Genius Prize for Save Our Seas Innovation"; increases efforts to engage, cooperate, and coordinate with other governmental and nongovernmental entities to raise international awareness of plastic waste and combat marine debris; and creates infrastructure grant programs to be administered by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Assistant Secretary Domenech serves as member of the White House Ocean Policy Committee and Co-Chair of the White House Ocean Resource Management Sub-committee. Domenech is also the Co-Chair of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force.

Leah Wiser

Pew Charitable Trusts

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission ended its annual meeting with management in place for tropical tuna fisheries, but little progress on a much-needed move towards precautionary, science-based harvest strategies.

While rolling over its existing rules for bigeye, skipjack, and yellowfin tunas averts a management crisis like the one that transpired at the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission’s annual meeting more than a week ago, these annual negotiations demonstrate that a modernized approach is urgently needed.

Glen Holmes, an officer for Pew’s international fisheries work said the following:

“The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission took a good first step in extending its current management of tropical tunas through 2021. This will provide basic safeguards for fisheries worth more than US$19 billion.

“This decision adds to pressure on the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission to adopt a management measure for eastern Pacific tropical tunas at its special session next week. Just over a week ago, IATTC failed to agree to a critical management measure, leaving these fisheries in a huge area of ocean completely unregulated. Although WCPFC’s action is important, the entire Pacific deserves—and needs—comprehensive rules for tuna fishing.

“And while WCPFC should be commended for not reaching a stalemate, the time-consuming nature of annual negotiations and the massive costs if consensus is not reached, highlight the urgent need for a predictable, stable approach to management. If a harvest strategy had already been in place, quota-setting for tropical tunas would have been automated, leaving managers time to discuss pressing improvements that could safeguard the stocks and reduce risks to seafood buyers, such as improving oversight of transshipment activity, finalizing rules for electronic monitoring onboard vessels, and combating illegal fishing. Disappointingly, the Commission had little time to discuss these issues, and could not even agree to a hold a meeting next year for scientists and managers to come together to discuss how to progress harvest strategies.

“It is time for WCPFC to step up and modernize its approach. Governments must fully commit to harvest strategies instead of continually delaying the process. It is the only way to break the cycle of inefficient and ineffective quota negotiations and ensure the future health and sustainability of western and central Pacific fisheries.”

Recent analysis advises that a phased approach to re-opening would allow for safer economic recovery in the largely COVID-free region

World Bank

 

December 22, 2020

SYDNEY – With COVID-19 vaccine distribution now in its early stages, early steps toward the resumption of labour migration in the Pacific region underway, and hopes for an international travel ‘bubble’ between Australia and New Zealand, questions are now arising as to what additional measures will be needed before international tourism returns to the Pacific region. In this context, World Bank analysis, How Could the Pacific Restore International Travel?, has recommended that Pacific Island countries and Papua New Guinea (PNG) take a phased approach to resuming international travel to the region in order to safeguard against COVID-19 outbreaks and ensure a steady economic recovery.

Pacific countries have, so far, managed to largely protect citizens from COVID-19 through international border closures. Yet, the economic impacts of the pandemic in the region have been significant. Recent economic modeling by the World Bank shows that all Pacific economies are estimated to have contracted in 2020– particularly those reliant on tourism. Fiji, for example, is estimated to have seen a reduction in GDP of close to 20% in 2020. While a modest recovery is expected in 2021, output levels are not expected to reach pre-COVID19 levels until 2022 or later.

“We want to assist policy makers in the Pacific and PNG to make informed decisions about the risks, and benefits, of when and how they choose to re-open to international travel,” explained Michel Kerf, World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands of the motivation behind producing the report.

“Due to weak health systems, any large COVID-19 outbreaks could have devastating consequences for the region. Recent World Bank surveys show that the pandemic’s economic impacts and closed borders

Interview with Ethelyn Ankiambom Chia, written by Kalika Kastein

54ab5116 73b2 4c3d adce b558070aef28On the northeastern part of the island of Weno in Chuuk State sits a combined community center and school near the shore. Ethelyn Ankiambom Chia, or “Ankia,” walks up the painted white staircase every weekday at Akoyikoyi Elementary and prepares to teach her energetic students, passing by the school’s motto “Awakening Opportunities'' posted near the entrance.

Ankia stayed in her role despite being over 15,000 kilometers away from her family in Cameroon and is one of the few international teachers to do so despite border closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She taught second-grade last year, but because of staff departures related to the pandemic, she has been teaching third and seventh grade this year.

Born to Chia Marcus Chia and Angeline Funduma in the lush, mountainous Northwest region of Cameroon, Ankia is part of an ethnolinguistic group of Anglophones in a majority Francophone country, a native speaker of both English and her local dialect of Itaŋikom. She was cared for by her older siblings after the death of her parents during her childhood. “Losing my parents at an early age, I have been raised by older siblings with a little support from extended family and a few people with goodwill.”

Her upbringing shaped her beliefs on community service and support. As a sixteen-year-old, she began assisting and contributing to volunteer-led community projects with her aunt and uncle who were community hosts and counterparts with the Peace Corps in Cameroon. She later connected to former Peace Corps volunteer Clark Graham in Chuuk State and was hired to teach at the charter school he founded: Akoyikoyi Elementary.

Her move from Cameroon to Micronesia and from public health to teaching was motivated by her first-hand experiences in conflict zones and a belief in education as a way to prevent violence. There has been a violent conflict in her home country since 2016 targeting members of her ethnolinguistic group. In 2016, Cameroon's predominantly Anglophone Northwest and Southwest regions protested against the Francophone-dominated education and legal systems. This protest from the English-speaking minority resulted in swift government reaction. This spun off a number of armed separatist groups that met these acts of violence with their own. During her time in Cameroon, Ankia provided humanitarian relief and psychological support in her role as a public health worker.

“Conflicts most often result in increases in disease spread and deterioration of health systems which makes disease prevention and control very difficult and such death rate is higher in conflict areas, not only from

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and the Honorable Yosiwo P. George, Vice President of the FSM, have implemented new social protection programming designed to safeguard the FSM’s citizens against the detrimental economic impact resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic. Among these programs include a cash transfer grant to approximately 4,500 low-income households outside of the formal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, a food security program for community groups and low-income households to enhance subsistence-living food production, community-based grants to strengthen awareness and prevention of COVID-19, financial assistance to vulnerable groups such as the elderly, persons with disabilities, and survivors of gender-based violence, and a second one-time payment to FSM citizens stranded abroad.

The cash transfer program to approximately 4,500 low-income households is intended to provide temporary cash relief for households outside of the formal labor sector, such as subsistence farmers and fishermen, and specifically such laborers who do not qualify for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. Approximately six million dollars ($6,000,000) is scheduled for this purpose, and expected to provide a one-time assistance of $1,000 to each low-income household. Households are encouraged to use this assistance to enhance COVID-19 readiness by buying facemasks, sanitary needs, and other COVID-19 preventive items. The Government intends to begin rolling out this social protection program by January 2021.

The food security program for community groups and low-income households is intended to provide subsistence livelihood training, and an equitable distribution of seeds, planting, and fishing materials, to vulnerable citizens at no cost. Approximately two million dollars ($2,000,000) is scheduled for this purpose, and it is the intention of the Government to begin rolling out this social protection program by January 2021.

The community-based COVID-19 awareness grant is intended to strengthen awareness of COVID- 19, inclusive of education on handwashing and social distancing, distribution of soaps, masks, and informational

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On December 21st, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (H.R. 133), which includes the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 omnibus spending package. Of crucial import to citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is that the legislation includes a provision that would restore Medicaid eligibility for Freely Associated States (FAS) citizens who are lawfully residing in the U.S.

The provision contained in the relief package mirrors the stand alone legislation, Covering our FAS Allies Act (H.R. 4821/S.2218), which was introduced by Representative Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI). This provision will restore a crucial benefit to FSM citizens that was lost as part of a 1996 welfare reform package.

Prior to 1996, FAS citizens residing in the U.S. were eligible for federal benefits, including Medicaid. However, when Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in 1996, it inadvertently removed FAS citizens’ eligibility for Medicaid. Specifically, the law excluded FAS citizens from the list of legally present non-citizens that are eligible to qualify for certain federal benefits. Unfortunately, this gap in coverage has persisted for over two decades.

“On behalf of the People and Government of the FSM,” His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the FSM, said in a statement, “I would like to thank our American brothers and sisters for this demonstration of love and solidarity between our two Nations. Between the forthcoming arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines, first for our frontline responders, and now the expansion of Medicaid coverage to our citizens abroad, this is heartwarming and wonderful news at the end of a year that has otherwise been renowned for its challenges.”

FSM citizens residing in the U.S. are encouraged to contact the FSM Embassy in Washington, D.C., with any queries they may have regarding the restoration of Medicaid eligibility for FSM citizens lawfully residing in the U.S. The Embassy can be called +1-202-223-4383 or citizens can submit a query via the contact form here: http://www.fsmembassydc.org/webform/contact-us

The FSM National Government deeply appreciates the many congressional champions of this crucial Medicaid fix and applauds the leadership who helped to build strong support to restore Medicaid for our citizens. His Excellency Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, is expected to sign the measure into law later this week.

FSM Information Services

 

321PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On December 11th, 2020, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—delivered an address for International Human Rights Day.

Immediately prior to the address, the President received members of the FSM’s community of persons with disabilities wherein he recognized their efforts to take actions today for our Nation’s prosperity tomorrow.

Human Rights Day celebrates the 1948 signing of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights; that everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person; all human beings are equal before the law, and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.”

President Panuelo spoke at length about the relationship between how human rights as an abstract philosophical concept are concretized through specific actions that societies take, noting for example that the right to a secure environment is translated into effective action towards environmental stewardship and protection. In this respect, the President described the World’s success at removing hydrofluorocarbons from the atmosphere through the Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances, and expressed the Nation’s collective thanks to U.S. President-Elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. for his commitment to rejoin the Paris Agreement in the first days of his administration.

The bulk of the President’s address focused on differently abled persons and children.

Manta Ray Bay Resort Yap Divers Yap FSM 2Colonia, Yap- Falling backwards from the side of a boat into pristine, warm ocean waters is undoubtedly a recurring dream for divers around the world. The award-winning Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers on the remote Micronesian island of Yap is preparing to make those dreams come true once again.

“We’re offering not-to-be-missed packages for the moment when the island’s borders open up to welcome visitors back again,” announced Texas-born and bred Bill Acker, CEO and founder of Manta Ray.  In one of only eleven countries that are free of the COVID-19 virus, Yap’s premier resort is on the bucket list of divers around the world. And now it’s more affordable than ever.

“Although we don’t yet know when Yap’s borders will be opened, we want to be among the first to welcome divers back to the sport we all love,” said Bill. “That’s why we’re offering these great deals.”

Manta Ray’s Grand Re-opening Special offers for 2021 and 2022 include, for individual bookings for one to seven divers, three free nights when booking 7 nights/15 dives, 10 nights/24 dives, or 14 nights/33 dives. For groups of eight or more, get eight free spots for every 8 paid divers. “That’s right,” said Bill, “that’s not a typo. Pay for eight divers and come with 16!”

With over 9,000 dives in the waters of Yap, Bill is a member of the original class of SSI Platinum Pro Divers. As a PADI instructor, he remains active in exploring new dive sites and teaching the sport to people interested in sharing his love for the ocean environment.

“It’s been hard having to close our family-run resort for the last year, but we’re ready and anxious when the border opens to welcome visitors back to this beautiful island,” he said. “I’ve been having fun diving with my kids, but we all miss taking our guests out to plunge into the clear waters and magical canyons that surround Yap that this Texas Longhorn boy first discovered more than forty years ago.”

For more information, visit https://www.mantaray.com/grand-re-opening-special-offers/, follow Bill’s blog at https://www.mantaray.com/blog/ or go to @mantaraybay on Facebook.

JICA

On December 7, 2020, Karen Simion, Interim President of the College of Micronesia-FSM and Keiichi Muraoka, Resident Representative of JICA Micronesia signed the Record of Discussions (hereinafter referred to as R/D) between the two parties setting in motion “The Project for Maritime Education and Training Capacity Enhancement on Fisheries and Maritime Institute”. The Project duration will be three years from its commencement that is scheduled in April 2021.  Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Project Team was unable to visit the FSM to conduct the detailed planning survey of the project. However, various virtual discussion successfully concluded the survey along with the execution of electronic signing procedure of the R/D as agreed between both parties. 

This Project will aim at improving maritime education and training courses at FMI-COM in Yap as the main site. The main outputs of this project includes the improvement of current class 5 courses and developing new class 4 courses with materials and contents, as well as improvement of employment supports. Capacity development for instructors will be explored through accepting trainings from other organization or governments from neighboring regions such as Palau and Republic Of Marshall Islands.

JICA has collaborated with FMI-COM since 2000-2005 with a project that aimed to develop the curriculum and leaning materials and to carry out teacher’s training in FSM-FMI. With this new project, JICA continues its support in contributing to capacity development of fisheries and maritime in FSM. JICA recognizes this sector as a priority issue in the FSM and will continue cooperating with FMI-COM and provide continuous support in this area.

FSM Information Services

 

2211PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On December 16th, 2020, the Honorable Bethwel Henry, the first Speaker of the FSM Congress, and later the Postmaster General from 1988 to 2007, passed away.

Born March 3rd, 1934, on Mwoakilloa Atoll, Bethwel Henry was a personified demonstration of public service. His decades of dedication to the Congress of Micronesia under the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, to the FSM Congress as its first Speaker, and to the FSM Postal Services, allowed for our Nation to emerge from a dream to a reality, and for our young Government to enjoy continuity. Bethwel Henry’s helpful demeanor ensured that the work of the Legislative Branch was always executed in an exemplary manner, and his commitment to public service ensured that our Postal Services were reliable. In fact, of the bottomless list of accomplishments one can attribute to Bethwel Henry, one that has had a real-life effect on every FSM citizen was his assistance in ensuring FSM postal rates are the same as U.S. domestic destinations.

The FSM National Government has been remarkably fortunate to have been blessed with Bethwel Henry’s service to the Nation and its citizens, for he represented the virtues that the Nation stands for and believes in. Bethwel Henry spent every day of his life extending peace, friendship, cooperation, and love in our common humanity to everyone he encountered.112

The Government thanks Bethwel Henry for his many and noble deeds, and sends its deepest condolences to all of his friends and family in this time of mourning, and asks that the citizens of the Nation recall his good character, and reflect on his outstanding service to the people.

His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the FSM, has proclaimed an official period of mourning. The Presidential Proclamation is available here: https://gov.fm/files/2020_December_17- PROCLAMATION_LATE_SPEAKER_THE_HONORABLE_BETHWEL_HENRY.pdf

On December 21, The FSM National Government held a State Funeral for the Honorable Bethwel Henry at the FSM Congress Chamber where Henry served as the first speaker after which a service was held at his church in Kepinle. He was laid to rest on December 22.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

January 2, 2021

Pohnpei—The attorney for Norleen Oliver filed a motion at the FSM Supreme Court to dismiss the one remaining criminal charge against her client.  The court had earlier dismissed one of the criminal charges filed against her, “Deprivation of Rights”. One misdemeanor criminal charge remains—“Obstructing Administration of Law or Other Governmental Function”, which carries a penalty of not more than one year.

The FSM Department of Justice filed the charges against Oliver after Oliver admittedly parked her vehicle on a private road on land she has custody of, allegedly blocking access to First Lady Patricia Edwin to Edwin’s family land at the end of that private road.

Oliver argues that the term “First Lady” is not an official title, but only a ceremonial one and that therefore, the First Lady is not a public official. She argues that a plain reading of the law shows that since the First Lady was not “elected, appointed, or employed” to perform a governmental function, she is not a public official.

She quotes the FSM Supreme Court in its ruling in the matter of Janet Semes Panuelo v. the FSM Government et., al in Civil Action 2019-025.  In that matter, the FSM Supreme Court held that:

“The ‘office’ of the First Lady is not a Constitutional Office. Nor is it an office created by statute. It is an office for which a writ of quo warranto will lie to determine the right to hold the office. It is a title that is, or has been customarily bestowed on or used to honor the President's wife, who is then expected to perform varied social and diplomatic functions on the President or the nation's behalf.”

Oliver claims that the court’s own previous ruling acknowledges that the office of the First Lady is not established by constitution nor statute and therefore is not a public office.  Therefore, the Court cannot rule

University of Guam

The University of Guam today conferred degrees to 246 graduates at its Fanuchånan 2020 Commencement Ceremony. With 85 receiving master’s degrees, it was the largest number of master’s degrees ever conferred by the university in a semester, more than half of which were in education specializations. Bachelor’s degrees totaled 161, the majority coming from the School of Business and Public Administration.

The ceremony took place virtually and will remain accessible for viewing on the UOG Facebook page at www.facebook.com/UniversityofGuam.

“I don’t have to tell this audience that these are unprecedented times and that we’re all living through a historic challenge,” said UOG President Thomas W. Krise. “But this class of graduates of the University of Guam has been resilient and flexible and supportive in the spirit of the CHamoru values of chinchule’ and inafa’maolek.”

Valedictorian expresses importance of belonging 

Class valedictorian Maya D. Nanpei expressed how she found a sense of belonging and support at UOG that helped her overcome the ADHD she had struggled with in high school. 

Micronesia Conservation Trust

 

December 30, 2020

Lincy MarinoThe Micronesia Conservation Trust and partners of the Micronesia Challenge (MC) are proud to congratulate, Lincy Lee Marino, for completing her graduate program as a recipient of the Bill Raynor Micronesia Challenge (BRMC) Scholarship.

The Bill Raynor Micronesia Challenge (BRMC) Scholarship Program was inspired by William (Bill) Charles Raynor (Feb. 22nd, 1957-Sept. 1st, 2015), one of Micronesia’s lead conservation pioneers. He engaged in significant and meaningful conservation work in Micronesia for over 30 years. He helped to establish/strengthen several non-governmental organizations that are now leading conservation and sustainable development efforts in Micronesia. He supported and mentored emerging environmental leaders who have the passion and the potential to continue the conservation initiatives and maintain the Micronesia Challenge commitment, which he was instrumental in establishing. His initial contributions to the BRMC now allows two students from the region each year to be supported in their graduate education. The scholarship fund aims to contribute to the development of effective conservation of Micronesia’s biodiversity and the promotion of sustainable livelihoods across the region.

In 2019, Lincy Lee Marino, the sixth graduate of the BRMC, from Palau, was one amongst the 3 students awarded the) Scholarship. In the Fall of 2020, she completed her Master’s in Sustainable Management from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.  Over the course of her academic year, she successfully balanced her full-time job as a researcher at the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) with being a full-time graduate student. She also serves as Palau’s core member to the Micronesia Challenge Socioeconomic (SEM) measure’s group.

After graduating, Ms. Marino will continue to carry her roles as a researcher at PICRC and as a core member of the Micronesia Challenge SEM team. She is passionate about ensuring that Palau does not endanger their pristine environment in exchange for better economic standing. Thus, she sees a greater need to integrate sustainable management practices to preserve the environment along with Palau’s cultures and traditions. 

Forum Fisheries Agency

 

21 December, 2020

HONIARA– Pacific Island countries have worked with fishing nations to secure crucial protection measures next year for an industry worth over US$1 billion to local economies and employing around 24,000 following global meetings last week.

Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen said the virtual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission* (WCPFC) had ensured key management measures were rolled over to secure the fishery for the coming year.

“FFA Member countries went into this virtual meeting with a clear set of priorities. The most important was ensuring we rolled over the flagship Tropical Tuna Measure for another year to ensure there was not a management vacuum while a new measure is negotiated in 2021,” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.

“Our current measure expires in February 2021. Tuna fisheries are the social and economic lifeblood of many of our Pacific countries and we needed to ensure we had certainty. It was essential to the sustainable management of our tuna stocks that we avoided  an outcome similar to recent meetings of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), who failed to reach a consensus on regulations, leaving their fishery unmanaged next year,” she said.

“We are really pleased that we were able to secure this outcome for the Western Pacific region.”

The Tropical Tuna Measure regulates the tuna catch in the region and puts in place measures to ensure the amount of fishing effort and catch is kept at sustainable levels.

Forum Fisheries Committee Chair Eugene Pangelinan said virtual meetings were particularly challenging for Pacific members and in-person negotiations were a much more successful option for complex discussions.

“Pacific nations often struggle with poor internet connectivity and to make matters worse, we frequently must contend with tropical cyclones at this time of year that cause significant disruption to communications.. Trying to successfully complete sensitive negotiations under COVID conditions was always going to be more difficult,” said Mr Pangelinan.

“We managed to get key fishing nations to pull back a bit on the horns and accept the fact that this virtual commission meeting is not the time to talk about new measures which may increase bigeye tuna catch or adding fishing days to high-seas purse-seine effort limits,” he said.

“We’ve obviously got a lot of work to do now for 2021.  In  addition to negotiating a comprehensive tropical tuna measure, we will be looking at measures to ensure best practice approaches to observer safety and to address crew labour conditions and human rights issues at sea.  It will be a busy year, but we are confident that this will be achievable, especially if face-to-face meetings can resume at some point next year.”

Pacific-caught fish contribute significantly to the diets of people in other parts of the world, with the Western and Central Pacific Ocean accounting for almost 60 percent of the global tuna catch, of which more than half  is taken in the waters of FFA member countries.

KOLONIA, POHNPEI- On December 9, 2020, Pohnpei joins the rest of the world in the celebration of the International Anti-Corruption Day at the Youth4-Change center. The event was jointly coordinated by the US Embassy, Youth-4-Change and the UN Joint Presence Office. This year’s theme is, “Recover with Integrity.” This is inclusive to the Covid-19 pandemic crisis we’re facing today.

Ms. Sophia Pretrick who delivered the keynote message emphasized that integrity is the key to rapid response and recovery. Sophia is currently on detail assignment at the FSM Office of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (OPUA) under the FSM National Government Department of Finance and Administration, to assist in creating and maintaining integrity within OPUA through prevention, detection investigation and recovery of unemployment overpayment. Sophia further highlighted the importance of the government to work together with civil societies, NGO’s, private entities, youth groups, church and traditional groups including the public in anti-corruption activities. Working together in maintaining integrity is very important even in this unprecedented and difficult time. Although we are in an emergency crisis, we must make sure that no one is taking advantage of the system.

We should always do the right thing, the truthful way in everything we do regardless of who we are, where we are, what we do, we have the responsibility to be vigilant and on the look-out for fraud and corruption.

The US Embassy and Youth-4-Change did essay competitions and poetry contest for the youth members in their perception of what can you do to stop corruption?

Also present on that day was US Acting Chief of Missions, Somer Bessire-Brier, UN representative, Suzanne Lowe Gallen, Youth-4-Change President Diaz Joseph, Pohnpei Office of the Public Auditor staff and Youth-4-Change youth members.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

January 4, 2021

FSM—A recently released audit of the FSM Trust Fund conducted by the FSM Office of the Public Auditor concludes that “actions are required to effectively and efficiently achieve the goals of the FSM Trust Fund.”  The FSM Trust Fund is a separate Trust Fund account from the trust fund established under the Compact of Free Association.  It is entirely under the control of the FSM government. 

The balance of the FSM trust fund at the end of the audit period, which covered only fiscal years 2015-2019, was $266.9 million.  During the audit period balance has gone as high as $285.01 million, which was the balance in December of 2019 but, though outside of the audit scope, auditors point at that due to the economic impact of COVID-19, Fund investments lost $40.6 million during the period from January 2020 to March 31, 2020.  However, there was a significant recovery during the next two quarters so that by the end of the 2020 fiscal year, the balance was $307.3 million.

According to the Investment Advisors’s report for March 2020, “Volatility is expected to remain elevated until the terminal impact of the virus can be measured accurately—a feat that remains out of grasp for the time being”.

Contributions to the Fund are mainly through appropriations by the FSM Congress.  For the FY2015 to FY2019 a total amount of $174.7 million was appropriated. The Administrator through the Division of Investment and International Finance (IIF) would identify the source of funding either from Fishing Fees or Corporate Tax, which should be equivalent to the amount appropriated by Congress. All funds for the Fund were deposited at a bank custodian which currently is the Bank of New York (BNY).

The current investment manager for the fund is Wilshire Associates, an investment firm based in Santa Monica, California. Currently there are twelve money managers who are responsible for buying and selling

FSM Information Services

 

dvdvvvvPALIKIR, Pohnpei—The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), through its Enduring Partnership with the United States of America, has began its COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Following the arrival of the first 1,600 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on December 28th, 2020, the Government informally launched the campaign on December 31st, 2020 with the rollout proper to begin the week of January 4th, 2021 in the State of Pohnpei and the rest of the FSM the following week.

The FSM National Government expects another 8,200 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to arrive on or around Saturday, January 9th, 2021; it is the intention of the National Government to then ship the vaccines to Kosrae, Chuuk, and Yap, via Caroline Islands Air and Pacific Mission Aviation, with the State Governments shortly following with the vaccine rollout in their jurisdiction.

The first priority group to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are frontline workers— such as healthcare workers and border control workers—followed by the elderly, and individuals with underlying medical conditions, which is the standard recommendation for prioritization from the U.S. CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO). Citizens should not expect that they will have access to the COVID-19 vaccine until such a time that all frontline workers have had the opportunity to receive it.

There is no live virus in the approved COVID-19 vaccines, and by extension any side effects do not mean that a patient has contracted COVID-19. Some acute side effects have been seen, including injection site soreness and a short-term fever that is gone in under 48 hours.

On December 31st, 2020, ten (10) individuals joined the launch event for the FSM’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign, including His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the FSM, who took the vaccine on

YAP CHRISTMAS PICYap Visitors Bureau

 

December 23, 2020

COLONIA, YAP - It was literally a brighter Christmas in Yap this year with an epic Christmas light display at the Yap Living History Museum in Colonia. Yap has remained COVID free, so masks and social distancing is not required. This has never been done before and so the locals were in awe in admiration.  The display was the brainchild of Leo Pugram, a local tattoo artist, and supported by the Yap Visitors Bureau, an internet “Go fund me drive” the Bank of Guam, FSM Development Bank, and other local businesses. The outdoor museum grounds came alive at sunset with thousands of lights, a large Christmas tree, and numerous lights displays on the Yapese traditional buildings, decorated palm trees, the Nativity Scene, and Reindeer. There was even a personal appearance by Santa Claus. “I just thought this would be a fun thing to do to brighten up Christmas on Yap, especially for the children. I was really shocked at how popular it was and the number of people who crowded into the grounds to see it.” said Leo Pugram who partnered with the Yap Visitors Bureau to organize the event.

Office of the Assistant Secretary

Insular and International Affairs

 

MahkontoweSleepingLady Kosrae MicronesiaWASHINGTON – The Trump Administration, through U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech applauds the successful completion of an eco-heritage tourism project funded through the Compact of Free Association in Kosrae State in the Federated States of Micronesia. The Kosrae Island Resource Management Authority has completed the construction of several traditional resting houses in the Mahkontowe Conservation Area (MCA) as part of a larger effort to protect cultural and natural resources and to develop eco-heritage tourism.

“We applaud this unique use of Compact funds to help Kosrae preserve cultural traditions while also promoting the protection of natural resources for tourism and economic development. This

will be especially important once the FSM is able to safely open up its borders to tourism again since travel restrictions were put in place earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “We also applaud Kosrae for their successful application for Historic Preservation Funds as they prepare to nominate Kosrae's Mahkontowe Conservation Area to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.”

The Mahkontowe Conservation Area incorporates the interior mountain range on Kosrae Island, which features the prominent shape of a reclining female, or the sleeping lady known as Mahkontowe in Kosraean legend and oral histories. Working with Kosraean elders who advocated for protecting Mahkontowe in 2017, the Kosrae State Government, through a community-based approach, also involved Kosrae State government agencies, non-government organizations, local guides, and tourism operators to help protect Mahkontowe. In 2018, the Kosrae State Legislature passed Kosrae State Law 11-152 to protect Kosrae’s Sleeping Lady through the Mahkontowe Conservation Area.

Fiscal year 2019 funding provided through the Compact of Free Association was approved for the Kosrae Island Resource Management Authority to build several traditional resting houses using Kosraean traditional knowledge and resources in the Mahkontowe Conservation Area to promote eco-heritage tourism. The local resting houses will have a dual purpose of supporting tourists as well as local Kosraen agriforesters. For more information visit the Kosrae State  Historic Preservation Office.

CaptureKoupweliki OH Wauneki Atail--sohso (KOHWA) -to have pride and respect for our inheritance- land, ocean, & cultural practices are what KOHWA Inc., and the volunteers draw their passion for service.

It is a local non-government organization (NGO) which works with communities to improve sustainable practices and promote environmental stewardship through alternative income generation and community education on health, environment, and cultural heritage in Pohnpei.

                Out of passion to support communities and maintain a healthy environment, KOHWA members initiated the project, KOHWA KIHWEI. This project aims to provide assistance to low-income communities and to help waste management in Pohnpei by encouraging people to donate gently used household items for redistribution and reuse instead of allowing them to become waste.    

                On November 28, 2020, the organization distributed assorted donations at Nansalohi, Madolenihmw, a community otherwise known as Pihs. “It is very fulfilling to be part of KOHWA KIKWEI project and be doing this practice of gratitude,” said Yota P. Oue, President, KOHWA, Inc., “This is timely and appropriate because we had Thanksgiving lately, we get to share the things we’re grateful for, and these blessings to the community.”

                “We did a poll on Facebook in selecting the communities to conduct the outreach,” said Luan Lavern Gilmete, Vice President, KOHWA Inc., “The first KOHWA KIHWEI was in Ponrakied St. last June and the second one was in Pakin Island sometime July.”

                Chairman Peter Luke, Protestant Church, was grateful for the organization and for the voting public in choosing them as the beneficiary. “We welcome all organizations who has the same project with KOHWA because it is very beneficial to our community,” he said.

                KOHWA Inc., was officially recognized as an NGO in January 2019, currently has ten active members, and five advisers. William Kostka, Executive Director of the Micronesian Conservation Trust (MCT), and the First Lady, Patricia Edwin, were among the five advisers of the organization.

                They NGO has other on-going projects, including the Trash Bin Project, that was initiated-in partnership with Eco-Friendly Options (EFO), the Green Society, and Marcella Foundation. Healthy Homes, on the other hand, is their biggest project yet, which focuses on renovating homes for people in climate change vulnerable communities, targeting low-income families, specifically senior and/or disabled citizens.

                Given the extenuating circumstances, the organization still continues to work for community development. “We are committed to one goal and that is helping the community,” said Daisy Falcam, an active member.

                Follow KOHWA on Instagram, kohwa_fsm, and on Facebook.

US Embassy provides five EPIRBS to lucky raffle winners

By Pohnpei Fishing Club

 

December 5, 2020

DSC06671Pohnpei—26 boats registered for the Pohnpei Fishing Club’s 17th Annual Budweiser Tournament sponsored by Ambros, Inc. and Budweiser.  The “Catch 6” tournament, the club’s last tournament of the year, was held on December 5 with angles trying to catch a billfish, Yellow Fin and other tuna, Skip Jack Tuna, Wahoo, Barracuda, or Giant Trevally in order to win a cash prize.

Though fish of each species and some others including a couple of Mahi Mahi were caught, the winning boats caught four species each from the list of qualifying fish.  Since there were three top prizes, they went to the three boats that landed four species with prizes awarded based on the combined weight of the heaviest fish of each species caught aboard each boat.

Before naming the top anglers and captains, the club held a raffle for five EPIRBS (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon-an electronic device that is automatically activated if submerged in water and can be manually activated if a boater needs rescue) provided by the United States Embassy.  U.S. Charge d’Affaires Somer E. Bessire-Briers presented a certificate for the winners of that raffle to pick up their EPIRBS after participating in a training session at the US Embassy during the following week.  The winners of that raffle were Melner Isaac of “Ms. Meseirong”, Marvey Spencer of “Dolphin”, Taylor Paul of “Chicken Shit”, Gus Kohler of “Miss Molly”, and Welber David of “Pwoawoahwoah”.

bjhjhcvArt is one of the most powerful means for communication as it transcends cultures and creates bridges between people. 

Amidst the threat posed by the COVID-19 to the world including the FSM, the Micronesia Red Cross Society youth and the Department of Health and Social Affairs (DoHSA), supported by UNICEF have joined forces in an effort to use art through painting of Water Tanks to sensitize communities about COVID-19 prevention and positive behavioral practices.

Prevention remains the mainstay in defeating the COVID-19 epidemic.

********************************

About COVID-19

COVID-19 is an infectious viral disease which is transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exhales. A person can be infected by breathing in the virus if he/she is within close proximity of someone who has COVID-19, or by touching a contaminated surface and then his/her eyes, nose or mouth. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, dry cough, difficulty breathing and tiredness.

The simplest measures to reduce exposure to and transmission of COVID-19 include maintaining basic hand and respiratory hygiene like frequently washing hands with soap; covering the mouth or nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; and avoiding close contact by maintaining physical distancing of at least 6 feet away.

National Fisheries Cooperation (NFC)

The FSM NFC made history on November 27, 2020 when its Board of Directors voted Ms. Patricia Jack-Jossien to be the first ever female President/CEO of the Corporation in its 30 years of business. The post was vacated due to the untimely passing of the late Hon. Peter Sitan.  As a country, we ought to be proud of Jack-Jossien's achievement as FSM is working hard towards achieving gender equality. There are certain fields of profession that are predominantly male employees let alone leadership capacity and the fisheries sector is certainly one.

Jack-Jossien was previously working with the Parties to the Nauru Agreement at the PNA Office for almost eight (8) years prior to her accepting the post of Vice-President of NFC during Sitan's term in office. She was made interim President/CEO until her new appointment on November 27, 2020.

The NFC Board’s work is commended for this historic moment for the Corporation and the FSM as a whole.  Congratulations to the Board and the new NFC President/CEO Jack-Jossien, who reflects:

"It is with great honor and privilege that I accept this new post as the new NFC President/CEO. I want to thank the late Hon. Peter Sitan for acknowledging my potential in the area of fisheries to recruit me back to FSM from Majuro. My heartfelt gratitude to the Board of NFC for your confidence in me to carry on the great work that Sitan left off. I'm also thrilled to have broken the glass ceiling in this field for the Corporation and the FSM. My achievement is not only for me and my family but as a nation where we should encourage both contributions of men and women to continue to develop our great nation..."

UNICEF

 

jjjghbjhjhPALIKIR Pohnpei----On November 15, 2020, FSM Telecommunication Corporations (FSMTC) began retailing to customers the highly anticipated $5 denominated prepaid Tel-Cards which carry key messages and precautionary behaviors for preventing COVID-19. The initiative, supported by UNICEF, is a new partnership between the Department of Health and Social Affairs (DoHSA) and FSMTC, which aims at further increasing awareness about COVID-19 preventative measures.

"The FSM is always on the lookout for effective avenues to share useful information with the general public and so I believe putting messages on mobile telephone scratch cards is another innovative way of helping reach our communities with COVID-19 preventive messages. I cannot describe how appreciative we are to UNICEF for their continued support in the country’s COVID-19 preparedness and response; and of course, we are grateful to FSMTC for helping get these cards into the community,” said Mr. Quincy Lawrence.

Mr. Sebastian Tairuwepiy, a regular customer of FSMTC upon seeing the new scratch card designs for the first time said, “In fact the cards are so beautiful; they have messages that can be reminding people about how to stop the spread of diseases like COVID-19. Everyone must play their part for a better tomorrow.” 

Given that one of the most important and effective interventions in the current COVID-19 emergency preparedness and response is proactive communication and community engagement, the Department of Health Services of Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap and Kosrae States have been vigorously implementing various strategies and methods to ensure the population get the right messages at the right time in order to protect particularly the most vulnerable.

The Chief of UNICEF Micronesia Field Office Mr. Cromwell Bacareza underscored UNICEF’s commitment to supporting innovative ways of communicating and engaging with the public for social and behavior change. He said, “We are particularly excited about the fact that the key COVID-19 preventive messages have been printed on the $5 recharge card, which seems to be the most patronized card value by customers and thus would help us reach majority of the people with lifesaving messages.”

Informing populations about the health risks posed by COVID-19, as well as measures they can take to protect themselves, is key to mitigating spread and reducing the risk of people getting infected. Providing accurate information using the most effective channels can help to make decisions and adopt appropriate behaviors to protect themselves and their loved ones from diseases such as COVID-19.

Guard House i KuopOn Tuesday, November 17, 2020, the landowners of Ipis in Kuop Atoll (Moses family) from Uman, Chuuk, held an opening ceremony (Efinun) for the Kuop Conservation Project Guardhouse. Despite the bad weather and great distance to Kuop, there was good turnout with many of the people from Uman going out over the weekend and staying until the ceremony on Tuesday. The ceremony was attended by representatives from Legislature (Acting President of Senate, the Honorable Nelson Stephen; House R&D Chair, Junior Nomau; and, Senator Wisney Nakayama); Director of the Chuuk Department of Marine Resources, Curtis Graham and Deputy Director, Binasto Ruben; Director of Visitors Bureau, Douglas Marar; Director of the Registrar of Corporations, Inson Namper; Governor's Office representative, Janet Sisam; Department of Agriculture representative, Joakim Wasan; Chuuk Conservation Society Director, Marcellus Akapito as well as officials and traditional leaders from Uman Municipality. Unfortunately, because of COVID19 restrictions, representatives of Seacology and the Micronesia Conservation Trust, who financed the project, and some of the other partners were not able to travel to Chuuk for the ceremony. The Kuop MPA is now officially declared by the landowners and the traditional chief. A joint enforcement agreement between the Department of Marine Resources and the land/resource owners will continue moving forward and community consultations to finalize the draft management plan and MOU are underway. Seacology, a US based private foundation, provided a grant in the amount of $35,000 to support this vital conservation program in Chuuk. Kuop is one of FSM’s largest Marine Protected Areas with a size of 10,583 hectares. The no-take reserve area will provide protection for local fisheries, corals, turtles and sharks and will play a vital role in ensuring that Chuuk’s unique resources are managed effectively for the resource owners and people of Chuuk now, and for generations to come.

Micronesia Red Cross Society (MRCS)

Access to timely and accurate information is one of the most important parts of the early warning process. But what happens if you live in a remote part of the world, with limited access to mobile telephones, television, radio and the internet? What happens if you are not sure where to get information, or who you can trust to provide you with the right information?

This was a challenge facing the Micronesia Red Cross Society (MRCS) and the American Red Cross (AmRC), who have been implementing a community resilience program in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) since 2016. The Micronesia Community Resilience and Capacity Development (MCRCD) project has been working to reduce the number of deaths and injuries and lessen the negative socioeconomic impact caused by climate-related disasters (e.g. typhoons) and environmental degradation in vulnerable Micronesian islands. Part of the project has focused on building community resilience through the strengthening of community disaster management mechanisms, including early warning systems (EWS).

“Communications and access to information are fundamental elements of community resilience. And they are also critical parts of the early warning process, which is so important and literally can mean the difference between life and death in emergency situations,” says Hans Skilling, Coordinator of MCRS Kosrae Chapter in FSM. “So when we had the opportunity to work with the American Red Cross on the MCRCD project, which has a strong focus on early warning systems, we really wanted to make sure our community partners were connected and in control of the information that is available in the FSM.”

“We don’t work in every community in the FSM, so it didn’t make sense for us to create an elaborate system that would only be used in a few places - early warning systems need to be consistent across the whole

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

December 10, 2020

IMG 9142Pohnpei—In a short ceremony at the Embassy of Japan in Kolonia, Pohnpei this afternoon, Ambassador Sobashima Hidenobu turned over a grant of a maximum of $76,693 to Palikir Elementary School under the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects of the Government of Japan.

“Children will be the leaders of tomorrow,” Ambassador Sobashima said. “They are the gemstones to be polished by education to become jewels.”

He said that Palikir Elementary School currently has 246 female students and 288 male students. It also has 23 teachers and staff members.  However, currently there is only one bathroom to service the entire school population, resulting in long queues and the possibility of health concerns.  Further, the walkway to the restrooms is not covered causing an inconvenience during times of rain.

The grant will cover the renovation of three restrooms and their 15 flush toilets and 14 sink basins, renovation of the drainage ditch of 110.33 meters, and the construction of walkways with roofs between the restrooms and the classroom buildings.

Though Pohnpei Governor Reed Oliver was present at the ceremony, Director of the Pohnpei Department of Education, Stanley Etse spoke on his behalf, thanking the Ambassador and the people of Japan for the generous donation of funds.  Francisco Ifamilik, Principal of the Palikir Elementary School was also present at the ceremony.

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On December 4th, 2020, following consultations with President of the 4th Constitutional Convention (ConCon) of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Honorable Redley Killion Sr., and the Speaker of the 21st FSM Congress, the Honorable Wesley W. Simina, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the FSM—informed the Governors of the States of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae that public education on proposed Constitutional Amendments will be delayed until further notice.

The reasons for the delay in the public education process are legalistic, logistical, and public health-oriented in nature.

On the legalistic and logistical side, while the 4th FSM ConCon has indeed passed two proposed Constitutional Amendments for the public at large to vote on—one regarding the threshold required to amend the Constitution, and another allowing FSM citizens to obtain dual citizenship with a foreign country—the 4th FSM ConCon itself has not yet concluded its business due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. President Panuelo, President of the 4th FSM ConCon Killion, and Speaker Simina agree that it is plausible, perhaps even quite likely, that additional proposed amendments will be passed by the 4th FSM ConCon; if so, questions arise regarding how to ensure the public is well-informed in advance of the proposed Constitutional Amendments, and further questions arise regarding the logistical implementation of including all of these Amendments in a fair and transparent ballot process.

On the public health side, while the FSM remains COVID-19 free, both the National and State Governments recommend social distancing, and should the FSM become a COVID-19 infected country then the

FSM Information Services/Blue Prosperity Micronesia

 

moriPALIKIR, Pohnpei—Blue Prosperity Micronesia continues to grow, with the hiring of Island PRIDE Micronesia’s founder Yolanda Joab Mori as the Blue Prosperity Micronesia Program Coordinator. A long-time community organizer and activist, Yolanda brings her extensive experience to plan, guide, and implement program activities, as well as serve as the Secretariat to the newly established National Task Force for Blue Prosperity Micronesia.

Yolanda most recently served as His Excellency David W. Panuelo’s Advocate on Climate Change. She has also been a keynote speaker at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, the World Forum on Natural Capital, the United Nations ECOSOC Youth Forum, the United Nations High Level Political Forum, and is an alumnus of the inaugural Obama Foundation Leaders Program for the Asia-Pacific. Yolanda has worked on community-based Climate Change adaptation and education initiatives, with foci on women and youth engagement across the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) for ten years, and presently and serves on the Board for the United Nations Major Group on Children & Youth.

“As we continue to deal with Climate Change and its impacts on land and sea,” Yolanda said, “Initiatives such as this are becoming more and more critical. Through Blue Prosperity Micronesia, we can show that sustainability and prosperity don’t have to be mutually exclusive— both can co-exist, and even strengthen each other. My hope is that Blue Prosperity Micronesia will weave together both our own important traditional values rooted in guardianship, and reciprocity, with the innovative technical support of our partners, in a way that allows us to thrive today while leaving a legacy for our children that we can all be proud of.”

The addition of Yolanda to Blue Prosperity Micronesia comes approximately one year after the FSM National Government and the Blue Prosperity Coalition signed a Memorandum of Understanding. Building on targets from the Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, and the Micronesia Challenge, the program will fully protect 30% of the FSM’s waters, develop strategies for sustainable economic wellbeing, and improve fisheries management. Blue Prosperity Micronesia will work with National and State governments to develop Blue Economy strategies for the islands, as well as create Marine Spatial Plans for offshore and nearshore waters. Yolanda’s addition to the team brings added capacity and connection to ensure program goals support the needs of the Nation’s citizens.

“Yolanda has a unique connection with all four states of the FSM,” said William Kostka, Director of Micronesia Conservation Trust, a founding member of Blue Prosperity Micronesia. “Her dedication to highlighting the voices of women and the most vulnerable members of our communities, as well as uplifting the role of traditional knowledge in large-scale projects, will help ensure this program moves forward with community needs and priorities at the center.”

“Yolanda Joab Mori is the real deal,” President Panuelo said in a statement. “I previously selected her to be my Advocate on Climate Change because, aside from being vibrant, passionate, articulate, educated, intelligent, enthusiastic, persuasive, and awe-inspiring, her genuine concern for this existential threat, combined with her resolve to take actions today for our Nation’s prosperity tomorrow, make Yolanda the superlative example of a leader willing and able to take on this immense challenge. I am honored and proud to have her on board as Blue Prosperity Micronesia’s Program Coordinator.”

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

December 13, 2020

Pohnpei—The Pohnpei Office of the Public Auditor (POPA) issued a qualified opinion on the financial statements of the beleaguered Pohnpei Transportation Authority (PTA) for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2019.  The qualified opinion was due to lack of oversight, insufficient revenues, and its inability to pay for a long overdue liability to the State Government.

“The situation indicates that a material uncertainty exists that may cast significant doubt on PTA’s ability to continue as a going concern,” it said. “Also PTA did not disclose to the auditors one of the sites where its dyke inventory were being mined/dredged. Thus the auditors did not observe and confirm the inventory of dykes, if any, at this particular time.”

PTA’s operating revenues for the year were $1,206,737, a decrease of 18 percent, or $256,564 compared to prior fiscal year of $1,463,301.  At the same time, operating expenses increased by 4 percent or $63,887 from $1,742,051 to $1,805,938.  44 percent of the total operating expenses were for payroll related costs.  The cost of Supplies and Materials decreased by $91,363 and Petroleum Oil and Lubricants expenses increased from $233,673 to $251,604 for the year.

The net loss for the 2019 fiscal year was $599,202, and increase of 115 percent or $320,451 compared to prior year’s loss.  The amount owing to the Pohnpei State Government General Fund increased by 4 percent or $57,621 from $1,623,344 to $1,680,965.

The audit cited five findings, three of them material weaknesses in the internal control over financial reporting and two that are material non-compliances with applicable laws. In POPA’s cover letter to Midion G.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

December 2, 2020

Pohnpei—A panel of three justices serving on the FSM Supreme Court’s Appellate Division issued an extraordinarily rare public admonishment of an attorney licensed to practice law before the Court.  The Court admonished Yoslyn G. Sigrah, Esq., for her actions related to a filing she made on behalf of her clients, requesting a rehearing of an appeal in a collection action filed against her client by the FSM Development Bank. 

Sigrah’s clients in this particular case are not germane to reporting on the Court’s admonishment and will not be named here.

The FSM Supreme Court initially ruled against Sigrah’s clients, and they appealed.  The Appeals Court upheld the initial ruling. In 2019, Sigrah filed a request for rehearing of the ruling of the Appeals Court based on what she claimed was information the Court had not considered. According to the public admonishment, in support of the petition for rehearing, Sigrah submitted “what purported to be an adopted 2015 Congress resolution that asked the FSM Development Bank for a temporary moratorium on mortgage foreclosures.”  In fact, this was “only a proposed version of a resolution.”  The “actual adopted resolution, FSM Congress Resolution 19-129, 19th Congress., 2d regular session (2015), [merely] asked ‘the President to look into the FSM Development Bank to address the concerns of our citizens, and report back to Congress before the next Special Session in November 2015.’”

Secondly, and possibly more problematic, Sigrah never served opposing counsel a copy of her clients’ petition for rehearing, “although a certificate of service attesting to service was attached to the filed rehearing petition.”

The Appeals Court was stern in its admonishment.

“The respondents' counsel may have some excuse for misleading the court with an unadopted Congress resolution, but, since respondents' counsel is resident on Pohnpei, it should have been a simple matter for

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

December 12, 2020

Pohnpei—On December 4, 2020, the Pohnpei State Legislature adopted a resolution requesting Governor Reed Oliver to begin the process of “restor(ing) the confidence of the people of Pohnpei in their Department of Health Services, beginning with replacing the current Director, Wincener J. David.

The lengthy resolution outlined the Legislature’s motivations for the recommended action.  It says that it is incumbent upon the Administration to meet the requirements of the Constitution for continual improvement in health care.  “Towards this end, the Department of Health Services has always endeavored to retain a highly qualified corps of medical professionals, including fully trained physicians who are experienced in the specialties of hospital care…unfortunately, recent events have proven that the present Director of the Department of Health Services is not up to the task,” it says.

The resolution claims that the departure of Internist, Dr. Payne Perman and Opthalmologist, Dr. Padwick Gallen resulted from the current Director’s reluctance to negotiate reasonable contracts for the two doctors.  The resolution also claims that during the late part of the last fiscal year and the early part of this fiscal year, a number of employment contracts for essential medical personnel were due to be renewed, “yet negotiations between Wincener J. David and the respective medical personnel have failed to bear fruit, resulting in departures and employment encumbrances of these crucial members of the medical staff…”

The Legislature essentially accused David of lying to them during a committee hearing on November 6 when he told them that all outstanding employment contracts for staff which needed to be renewed had been

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

December 14, 2020

IMG 9147Ipwal, Sokehs— John Weilbacher, Soulik en Ipwal says that if something is not done soon about the dredge site in his village he will be forced to file a lawsuit against the government.  He says that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the necessary government agencies issued a permit for the dredge site but that the permit was issued in April, several months before the law governing that process was passed.  He says that since the dike went up, the lush mangrove forests have been dying due to the waterway being blocked by the dike servicing the dredging operation.

Henry Susaia, Director of EPA said this morning that in November the EPA recommended that the dredge site operators open up the dike to allow water to flow into the west side of the mangrove, which is in fact dying according to a report by the Natural Resources Management Office conducted in November. 

On visiting the site late last week and photographing the site we noticed no change in the dike nor in the withering mangrove on the west side of the dike.

“They’re supposed to open it up,” he said.  When asked what would happen if the operators did not open it up he said that EPA would have to file charges. That has not yet happened.

The dike is situated in the Daw Kerebw channel, a natural channel that legend says was carved out by Kihel, an ancient and massive lizard of lore.

Weilbacher says that his primary concern is the number of trees in the mangrove that have already died and the ones that are currently choking to death but that there are other concerns as well. One of them is that he says access to the channel by boats for residents to reach the ocean in order to continue to earn their livelihood is barred by the dike.  He says

University of Guam

 

With the culmination of a five-year effort to gather a breadth of geospatial data and display it on an interactive digital atlas, the four main islands of the Federated States of Micronesia are now more easily researched than any other island in the Pacific, including Hawaii, Guam, and Fiji.

The Digital Atlas of Micronesia launched on Nov. 1 and is a free and available resource for anyone to use at https://islandatlas.org. It currently covers Yap proper, Chuuk Lagoon, Pohnpei, and Kosrae.

The atlas is a collaborative project among Island Research & Education Initiative, or iREi, a nonprofit organization located in Pohnpei; the FSM Department of Environment, Climate Change, and Emergency Management; and the Water and Environmental Research Institute at the University of Guam and was funded by the U.S. Geological Survey and the FSM National Government.

“We have gone way above and beyond the initial vision, and we now have, by far, the most comprehensive and versatile ‘national’ geospatial data repository anywhere in the Pacific Islands,” said Danko Taboroši, chief editor of the atlas and director of Island Research & Education Initiative. “iREi and WERI created our first digital atlas for Guam in 2009. What we did for the FSM benefited from that experience and loads of new data and improved technologies over the past 10 years.”

Fishermen wanting to know the boundaries of marine preserves, tourists interested in seeing historical and cultural sites, a contractor needing to bury new utility lines, a student needing demographics for a particular set of villages for a project, a diver looking for shipwreck sites, or a biologist wanting to find areas with specific vegetation — it’s all searchable on the digital atlas. Users can customize a map for their purposes and then export or print it.

“There’s a lot of information contained in this atlas that — if you just have it in text or table form, it’s really hard to comprehend, but if you look at these maps and graphics, they really tell a story,” said Maria

Embassy of Japan

In the wake of the severe drought which hit Kapingamarangi Atoll, the Association for Promotion of International Cooperation, or APIC, decided to donate 20,000 US Dollars for the purpose of purchasing 8 units of 1,000 gallon water tank in Pohnpei Island and shipping them to Kapingamarangi Atoll.

APIC is a private foundation based in Tokyo, whose aim is to strengthen relations between Japan and nations in the Pacific and the Caribbean.

For the Federated States of Micronesia, APIC has implemented various development projects in the FSM as well as invitation and scholarship programs in Japan for both the leaders and the youth of the FSM. The assistance by APIC to Kapingamarangi was decided upon the request from the Micronesian Conservation Trust (MCT) for the cooperation. Earlier this year APIC already donated through MCT also 20,000 US Dollars to Weno, Chuuk State, which had been severely affected by a drought, for the installation of 10 units of water tanks.

The handover ceremony for Kapingamarangi was held on Tuesday 17 November 2020. The Hanover Ceremony for Kapingamarangi Drought Recovery and Support for Conservation Equipment held at the Pohnpei State Government building from 4 pm for about 30 minutes, was attended by Pohnpei State Governor Reed Oliver, Lt. Governor Feliciano Perman, State Senator Casinda Ludwig from Kapingamarangi, MCT Executive Director William Kostka, and Japanese Ambassador Sobashima Hidenobu, among about 40 participants.

Mr. Kostka explained how this assistance had become possible, and about APIC.

 Ambassador Sobashima, having referred to the cooperation to the FSM both from the Government and private organizations of Japan, including APIC, introduced the message from Ambassador Peter Sato, President of APIC as follows: “We are pleased to work with the Micronesia Conservation Trust to help alleviate suffering caused by the droughts on Kapingamarangi and on Weno. The 18 water tanks purchased and installed at the strategic locations will reduce the likelihood that the next drought will cause so much suffering.”

Ambassador Sobashima concluded that he hoped that the water tank placement would proceed smoothly, and the water tanks donated by APIC would develop to become another symbol of friendship between Japan and the FSM.

Governor Oliver appreciated and thanked the cooperation from Japan.

November 27, 2020

B200 2Tamuning, GUAM- For 46 years, Pacific Mission Aviation (PMA) has provided services such as medical evacuations, sea searches, disaster relief and more, for islanders in isolated islands.

The pandemic has brought on many challenges this year with an ever-increasing demand for flight services. There was urgency and need for better and faster equipment to expand PMA’s reach to adjoining states and countries in the region. In order to enhance their capabilities, they looked into grants to support the purchase of the Beechcraft King Air 200, training of pilots and mechanics, as well as spare parts.

On November 8th, the organization contacted Samaritan’s Purse, who happened to have two Beechcraft King Air 200’s that were already outfitted for mission work, with extra cargo carrying capabilities, strong landing gear, and many other enhancements. 

Four days after the initial contact, PMA received correspondence directly from Franklin Graham, CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, asking for more details about the Mission and the need for these aircraft.  Two days later after several back and forth emails, Franklin Graham called Nob Kalau, CEO of PMA, and informed him that Samaritan’s Purse was going to donate these planes to PMA. 

Samaritan’s Purse was prepared to assist PMA as best they could to integrate seamlessly into the world of turbo-prop powered aircraft.  Franklin Graham committed to preparing the planes so that when they arrived in Micronesia, they would be ready to serve.  This included the training of three PMA pilots and three mechanics, upgrading the avionics on both planes, and even exchanging components that were nearing their life limit such as one engine and two propellers.

“These aircraft are tools that PMA will utilize to extend the vision of Samaritan’s Purse, which also mirrors PMA’s vision in Micronesia of - Bringing Hope, Changing Lives,” said Norbert Kalau, President and CEO of PMA. He went on to say that “the donation of these aircraft brings in a new era of extended service, increased safety and spreading God’s love to the people of Micronesia. PMA is deeply thankful to Franklin Graham, and the generosity of Samaritan’s Purse.”

KOLONIA, Pohnpei – As part of the UN75 Focus Dialogue - FSM National Awareness Series, to mark World Children's Day, the FSM Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Working Group in collaboration with the FSM National Department of Education and UNICEF held an Early Childhood Development Orientation andRefresher training Workshop on Friday, 14 November 2020. A total of 22 participants from across various sectors including education, health, environment, and civil society met at the UNICEF Office in Kolonia to discuss a range of topics centered around Early Childhood Development.

Some of the key issues discussed include the importance of the first 1000 days of a child’s life, which is the period from conception to about two; the nurturing care that is required during this period; the compulsory age for pre-primary school; access to services for children with disabilities; improving maternity leave laws; and the importance of well coordinated child related programs across governments.

According to UNICEF, an estimated 43 per cent of children less than five years old in the world are not achieving their full potential, which could be because they do not receive the five elements of ‘nurturing care’ required for their age. These five elements include health, nutrition, early stimulation, learning opportunities and protection.

The workshop participants also made recommendations for a follow-on panel dialogue to be held on Monday, 30 November 2020. Please visit the UN Country Team in the FSM Facebook page for details of this and other events in the UN75 Focus Dialogue – FSM National Awareness Series.

By Alvie Cabanez

KPress Volunteer

On November 13, 2020, the Australian Embassy hosted a dinner reception to cap off the week-long National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) week. It is a celebration throughout Australia and is usually held in July. However, due to the global pandemic, the celebrations were pushed back to November this year.

The NAIDOC 2020 theme, “Always Was, Always Will Be,” invites all Australians to embrace the true history of Australia– a history which dates back over 65, 000 years.

Takuro Steele, Charge d’ Affaires, Australian Embassy Pohnpei welcomed the guests who enjoyed an exhibit of mask making from Torres Strait. They also enjoyed the conversations over the various foods and desserts.

The Embassy works with the National Museum of Australia to exhibit these Indigenous art works. This year, the College of Micronesia-FSM agreed to display the panels at the college’s library.

The event opened with a Sakau ceremony followed by opening remarks by Takuro Steele. It was immediately followed by a speech from Hon. Feliciano Perman, Lt. Governor of Pohnpei, who shared his impressions of this year’s NAIDOC theme and works that were being exhibited.

The celebration announced the winners of a nationwide essay contest that had been open to all high school students across the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Students were asked to explain how they relate to the theme as Micronesians.

“2020 is the Embassy’s 5th year to celebrate NAIDOC, and this year is quite special as we decided to include an essay contest involving all the high schools in the FSM,” said Takuro Steele.  “We received a large number of essays from across the country and it was a pleasure to read the many different perspectives coming from FSM’s youth.”

The winners of the contest were Aiko Nakayama- 1st place from Chuuk High School; Bennet Saimon- 2nd place from Nanpei Memorial High School; and Kelly Keller- 3rd place from Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School. Aiko received an HP laptop, Bennet received a Samsung cellular phone, and Kelly received an Alcatel tablet. One of the highlights was Nakayama reading her piece in a pre-recorded video.

The event was attended by Japanese Ambassador Sobashima Hidenobu; Chinese Ambassador Huang Zheng and wife, Zhao Yinguang; Cromwell Bacareza, Chief of UNICEF, North Pacific and wife, Dimple Bacareza; Somer Bessire-Briers, Charge d’ Affaires, US Embassy; The Hon. Kandhi Elieisar, Secretary of Foreign Affairs (representing the Office of the President); Samson Pretrick, Director of the FSM Office of Personnel; representatives of international organizations, business people, and senior officials of the FSM Government.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

November 28, 2020

FSM—After having suspended Mark DeOrio and his wife Norleen Oliver without pay in mid-October, the FSM Government has now taken the step of terminating their employment.  Both DeOrio and Oliver are facing criminal charges related to actions taken to attempt to block a “public project” that would pave a road through the land they occupy that leads only to Patricia Edwin’s family home.

The separate letters that National Police delivered to DeOrio and Oliver on November 18 said that they had 15 calendar days to submit a written appeal to the action.  According to Oliver, the Government isn’t forthcoming with information on exactly what should be done.  She said that her husband’s attempt to meet with the Department of Personnel for information on policy and other information pertaining to their employment and the process of appeal was “met with great resistance.”  She said that he was told that a memo had been circulated within the National Departments that instructed employees to refrain from communicating with DeOrio and Oliver, but that the memo had been labeled “confidential”.

Indeed, according to the FSM Public Information Officer, employees have been instructed not to discuss the ongoing matter and he could not do so.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

November 29, 2020

Pohnpei—Members of the Pohnpei State Legislature met with President David Panuelo on the morning of Friday, November 27 asking him to call off the small repatriation flight from Guam scheduled for December 5.  According to Senator Shelten Neth, the Legislature’s Chair of the committee that handles health and social affairs, the President would not agree to call off the flight.

Neth says that the Speaker is calling for a special session during which it is anticipated that the Pohnpei State Legislature will pass a resolution registering its official opposition to the repatriation flight.

At this date, the repatriation flight is still at this moment tentative according to a Presidential press release. According to that release, the 41 people who are scheduled to be on that flight, which includes diplomats attached to an Embassy in the FSM, stranded medical referees, and students, each had to present a negative COVID-19 test before they could enter the official FSM quarantine site in Guam.  Access to that site has been restricted and “there are multiple more COVID-19 tests during the pre-quarantine process”.

“Upon arrival in the FSM,” the President continued, “all repatriating persons will be tested for COVID-19, electronically cleared through Immigration and Customs with no physical contact, and immediately escorted to the designated quarantine facility, which carries a minimum 14-day experience. All repatriating persons and onsite medical staff, who will live in the quarantine site for the duration of the repatriation,

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

November 28, 2020

IMG 9055IMG 9057U, Pohnpei—On Saturday, the kings of U and Madolenihmw joined together at the home of Iso Nahnken Ihlen Joseph in U for an unprecedented local styled celebration of Thanksgiving and to welcome the new Christmas season with good will and spirit.

It was the first time for Wasa Lapalap Isipahu Herbert Hebel, Nanmwahrki of Madolenihmw, to visit U and to meet with Wasa Lapaplap Sahngoro Pedro Moses, Nanmwahrki of U.

Last Sunday, the Kingdom of U sent emissaries to Temwen to formally invite Isipahu to join them for a celebration which he graciously accepted.  It was an unusual meeting in that the kings of Pohnpei’s municipalities rarely meet formally except at funerals according to some local sources familiar with the traditions.

As is customary, the people of the host kingdom provided many pigs, huge sakau plants, and massive stout yams that took a dozen people to carry.

The celebration was highlighted by dancing and much laughter. It was a happy time for the two kingdoms and signals a close relationship.

IMG 9072

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

November 29, 2020

Pohnpei—On November 23 and 24, the FSM Department of Foreign Affairs forwarded to the U.S. Embassy to the FSM, two letters written by two FSM Governors requesting cancellation of the 69th Annual Operation Christmas Drop which is set to happen on December 5.

“Pohnpei State COVID-19 Task Force ha(s) carefully reviewed the health risks Involved and, with regrets, advise(s) that it is in the best interest of our people and everyone who cares for us to reconsider and hold off on this year’s Christmas Drop,” wrote Pohnpei’s Governor Reed Oliver.  “The vulnerability of our outer island populations toward potential outbreak of this contagious virus, COVID-19, is a risk too high and a cost too exorbitant to leave it to chance. It is better to err on the side or caution than to risk lives under this very vulnerable circumstance.”

“…I deeply regret to inform you that I have received written requests from the Council of traditional chiefs of the Yap outer islands, formally recognized as the Council of Tamol, and our Yap State COVID-19 Task Force Leading Agency, Yap State Department of Health Services, to respectfully inform you to convey their regretful request to our friends at the U.S. Embassy to kindly cancel the Christmas Drop operation for this year, if it is still possible, particularly for the Yap Outer Islands,” wrote Yap’s Governor Henry Falan This request is made due to the risk and fear of introducing COVID-19 into our vulnerable islands and

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On November 10th, 2020, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—sent the Nation’s formal congratulations to the President-Elect and Vice President-Elect of the United States of America, His Excellency Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the Honorable Kamala D. Harris, respectively. The FSM recognizes President-Elect Biden as the winner of the recent United States Presidential election.

“As an alumnus of Eastern Oregon University (EOU), I am well familiar with the United States, and in my capacity as the 9th President of the Federated States of Micronesia, I am at once pleased and honored to congratulate you both on your recent election victory,” President Panuelo wrote in his letter.

President Panuelo first noted the Nation’s appreciation for the past four years of strengthening the FSM-U.S. Enduring Partnership, which is based on shared values of democratic principles, the rule of law, and peace, unity, and liberty. “It is my hope and intention that, under your administration, we will continue to move rapidly on issues of mutual import to our two nations, including the completion of the negotiations on the expiring economic provisions of our Compact of Free Association, as Amended. The Federated States of Micronesia has heard the calls from the United States of America to promote a Free and Open Indo-Pacific Region, and Micronesians are committed to doing their part in maintaining regional and international security,” the President wrote.

The President then described the FSM’s keen hope for the United States to return to championing the global effort in tackling the existential threat of Climate Change, which remains the Nation’s primary long-term security issue. President Panuelo wrote: “Mr. President-Elect and Madam Vice President-Elect, with respect, I have seen you pronounce that on your first day in office that the United States of America will rejoin the Paris Agreement, and it is my sincere and heartfelt hope that this is precisely what will occur.”

President Panuelo concluded his letter by describing the Nation’s faith in the United States to overcome the recent challenges faced by the World during the COVID-19 Pandemic. “This year of 2020 has brought significant challenges, from the COVID-19 Pandemic and the loss of always-precious and invaluable human lives, to economic hardships that are increasingly unequal in the

categories of people most affected. Overcoming these challenges may at first appear to be Sisyphean in nature, but I want you to know that I, and the People of the Federated States of Micronesia, have faith in the United States of America, and the American People, in overcoming them, and becoming stronger as a result. As John 1:5 says: ‘The light shines in the darkness; and the darkness had not overcome it.’”

President Panuelo’s letter to President-Elect Biden may be found here: https://gov.fm/files/Nov_10_2020_HEDWP_to_POTUS-Elect.pdf

Okeanos Foundation

image001The tight travel restrictions that isolated Micronesia from international travelers over the preceding months has not stopped twelve Micronesian men and women from learning to voyage like their ancestors. In the summer of 2020, College of Micronesia-FSM launched its year-long traditional navigation program in collaboration with philanthropic non-profit Okeanos Foundation for the Sea.  

The highly practical program is running over the course of one year, consisting of two parts: “Traditional Navigation” delivered by Yapese Grand Master Navigator Ali Haleyalur and “Applied Seamanship ” initially intended to be taught by Okeanos Fleet Commander and Grand Master Navigator Peia Patai.

Ali Haleyalur, relative of Pwo Master Navigator Mau Piailug who famously sparked the voyaging renaissance in Hawaii in the 1970s, has long preserved the knowledge of traditional navigation amongst Micronesian sailors. Haleyalur aims to provide participants with the knowledge and skills in the traditional way of Micronesian navigation. It is hoped that its offering will rekindle interests in the preservation of this indigenous knowledge and to examine its relationship with modern science, e.g. oceanography, meteorology, and other related fields.image007

The twelve participating students, comprised of men and women from Yap and Pohnpei, will be assessed in identifying the navigational stars, sea creatures, birds or flocks of birds, groups of fish, and insects. Like their seafaring ancestors, the students will have to demonstrate proficiency and knowledge in determining the general directions of ocean waves, which in turn determine navigational directions and the bearings of other islands, while also naming the ancient sea lanes between Palau to the Marshalls to the Marianas.

In lieu of the COVID travel ban that has prevented Captain Peia Patai from traveling from the Cook Islands to teach the second half of the program, acting College of Micronesia-FSM Dean Tioti Bauro Teburea voluntarily assists with the course offering in the area of seamanship (Basic chart-work) and COLREGS “International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea”. The College of Micronesia campus also provides safe transportation and dinner to all students.

Aside from teaching, Haleyalur continues to collaborate with Okeanos Foundation to support traditional sailing and sustainable sea transportation in Yap and beyond Micronesian borders.  In 2019, Haleyalur sailed the sustainable and traditionally inspired canoe Okeanos Ambassador from Saipan to Yap, where it works in tangent with its sister canoe Okeanos Waaqab to service Yap’s outer islands.    

FSM Information Services

 

vdvddddPALIKIR, Pohnpei—Recently, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and the Honorable Yosiwo P. George, Vice President of the FSM, received Her Excellency Anke Reiffenstuel, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the FSM, in a virtual Presentation of Credentials ceremony and follow-up courtesy call.

After the acceptance of Ambassador Reiffenstuel’s credentials and confirmation to the FSM as the Ambassador of Germany, the Ambassador spoke about the historical ties between the FSM and Germany, and the strong potential to enhance FSM-German cooperation in areas of mutual interest, including strengthening FSM-German multilateral cooperation at international organizations such as the United Nations. The Ambassador noted Germany’s awareness of how the FSM has thus far prevented COVID-19 from entering the Nation’s shores, and congratulated the Nation for its vigilance towards protecting public health.

Beginning his remarks, President Panuelo said “Our two countries have indeed had long historical ties…. My great-grandfather was German; my middle-name is Weilbacher, a German name, and you can see Germany’s presence from the late 1800s to the early 1900s has continued to influence elements of our languages and social and governmental structures. We thank Germany for continuing to remember our close ties together. I also thank Germany for your global contributions to multilateral organizations, such as the United Nations, and through the European Union via the Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Islands (ACP) grouping.”

President Panuelo noted his appreciation for the high rate of women in positions of leadership in Germany, and noted his hope that the FSM can eventually follow its lead. “[Chancellor] Angela Merkel is one of the leaders our Nation truly respects for her strong performance in standing up for justice, not only for Germany and the European Union, but throughout the world, including dedication to the rule of law and your progressive position on Climate Change.”

“We treat Climate Change very seriously,” the President continued, “it’s an existential threat to the Pacific, and I appreciate that Germany is one of the countries advocating for our mutual obligations under the Paris Agreement.”

The President thanked Germany for its support of the forthcoming United Nations Multi-Country Office that will serve the North Pacific countries in the Micronesian sub-region.

President Panuelo and Ambassador Reiffenstuel agreed that the Ambassador will continue to liaise with the Honorable Kandhi Elieisar, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, in an effort to strengthen existing FSM-German cooperation.

cvcvcvcvvvcscThe coastline in Dekehtik has been improved through a cleanup project that the Pohnpei Port Authority has implemented as part of their strategic plan of activities at the port. The photos below show a before and after scene of the area that has been cleaned up.  PPA staff worked to remove the sunken vessels that were part of an old Micronesian Longline Fishing Corporation (MLFC) fishing fleet but were sunk years ago.  Wrecks like this litter the Dekehtik landscape and PPA took the initiative to clean up this area to improve the site for the environment and for tourism purposes. PPA has other strategic plans to create a domestic dock for ships that are travelling to the outer islands and to dredge the turning basin to allow for cruise ships to maneuver safely during berthing at Pohnpei’s dock.  As PPA has full responsibility for improvements to the port, the Board of Directors of Pohnpei Port Authority, has approved a strategic plan that will lead PPA’s actions through 2023 and assist Pohnpei State with economic growth activities at the Port of Pohnpei.  According to General Manager Pius Roby, there are more sunken vessels alongside the Dekehtik causeway, outside of Transportation Zone.  PPA will work with the Pohnpei State Government to plan for the removal of these sunken vessels.

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On November 4th, 2020, the MV Caroline Voyager, a vessel of the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), departed Japan from the Port of Osaka for return to the Nation. The vessel had previously arrived in Osaka on August 26th for necessary maintenance.

The crew of the MV Caroline Voyager, as essential employees, are not considered by the Government as equivalent to private citizens undergoing repatriation; however, the Government is committed to ensuring that the return of the MV Caroline Voyager and her crew are held to the safest and most airtight standard possible.

All of the crew were tested for COVID-19 twice on September 29th to October 1st, 2020, and again on October 28th to 29th, 2020, and had since been held in strict quarantine/confinement on the ship without any outside contact from September 29th (a month prior) until the time of departure on November 4th. All crew tested negative for the virus.

It is expected that the MV Caroline Voyager will enter into the FSM on November 18th, 2020, where it will arrive at the pilot station outside the Pohnpei State main vessel entry channel for a medical briefing and further COVID-19 testing. The crew will then be tested again on November 26th, and for a final time on December 3rd. Presuming that all crew remain COVID-19 free at that time, the crew will then be released into the community and, by extension, able to visit their friends and family before the Government requires the vessel undergo its next field trip requiring their services.

His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the FSM, wrote a letter to the Honorable Reed B. Oliver, Governor of the FSM State of Pohnpei, et al., detailing these efforts. The letter may be found here: https://gov.fm/files/November_5_2020-Gov_PNI_Return_of_Caroline_Voyager_Vessel_from_Japan.pdf

By Alvie Cabanez

KPress Volunteer

image002Pohnpei--On October 15, 2020, the College of Micronesia (COM) Youth volunteers celebrated Global Handwashing Day. This year’s theme, “Hand Hygiene for All”, is a wakeup call for communities to achieve universal hand hygiene especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The day serves as a platform to raise global awareness on the importance of frequent handwashing with soap at critical times.

The event, which coincided with celebration of UN at 75 years was commemorated from October 15-31, 2020 in a series of activities. A total of 2,941 students participated in the celebration wherein 1,519 were boys and 1,422 were girls.

The latest data collected by Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) outreached team indicated that over 85% of families in Pohnpei have access to functional handwashing facility at home while over 75% stated that they know the correct steps of handwashing.

“This year’s event is particularly significant for everyone because it is not just about supporting health and hygiene habits, it is about safeguarding our lives”, said Mr. Jeffrey Ing, WASH Chief in North Pacific. “Washing our hands with soap and water frequently is something that we have often taken for granted. The COVID-19 pandemic reminded us that one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of the virus is also one of the simplest; through proper hygiene, especially handwashing with soap,” he continued.

One of the highlights of the event was a hand-washing competition, which was intended to judge students that would be able to follow the recommended handwashing techniques. Through this competition the

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—The unaudited Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 reports for both the Federated States of Micronesia’s (FSM) sovereign Trust Fund (FSM Trust Fund), as well as the Trust Fund for the People of the FSM (Compact Trust Fund) show that both Trust Funds grew in FY 2020, despite the market volatility resulting from the crisis posed by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The FSM Trust Fund saw its total assets increase from $266,900,000 (266.9 million dollars) in FY 2019 to $307,300,000 (307.3 million dollars) at the end of FY 2020. The $40,400,000 (40.4 million dollars) increase reflects direct contributions of $17,300,000 (17.3 million dollars) from Congress appropriations and investment gains of $23,100,000 (23.1 million dollars). The investment returns include dividends, interest, and market value appreciations, and are net of all fees and expenses. The FSM Trust Fund had an annual rate of investment return of 8.6% for FY 2020, net of all fees and expenses.

The Compact Trust Fund, which was developed bilaterally between the FSM and the United States of America via the Compact of Free Association, as Amended, saw its total unaudited assets increase to $780,100,000 (780.1 million dollars) at the end of FY 2020. The Compact Trust Fund had an annual rate of investment return of 7.9% for FY 2020.

“Our FSM Trust Fund and Compact Trust Fund, combined, the amount is $1,087,400,000 (1.08 billion dollars),” His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the FSM, said in a statement. “Our canoe’s destination has always been self-reliance, and we are doing everything we can to keep our Nation financially secure beyond 2023 and far into the future.”

In a recent meeting with the FSM Trust Fund’s advisors, President Panuelo requested that the FSM Trust Fund purposefully seek to evaluate the potential impact to the portfolio’s sustainable growth from risks introduced by Climate Change, and to ensure that the Nation’s sovereign wealth fund’s investments in overseas private sector entities support the FSM’s vision of a sustainable, clean, and prosperous natural environment. This environmental-aware and green economy-conscious investment philosophy is commonly known as sustainable investment.

“It is only common sense that a Nation that champions environmental stewardship ensure that its long-term financial security be grounded in environmentally-friendly investments,” President Panuelo said.

In reflecting on the significant growth of the FSM Trust Fund as well as the vision of environmental leadership projected by President Panuelo, the Honorable Eugene Amor, Secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration, expressed his gratitude to the strong support from the FSM leadership and added: “I also want to thank our investment advisor Wilshire Associates for its work in guiding the Trust Fund’s efforts of growing responsibly. In the new fiscal year, the Trust Fund will focus on further aligning its investments with [President Panuelo’s] vision of a sustainable future. We will also seek to share our approach with the entire Pacific community.”

ghjThe second Joint Heads of Pacific Security event was held virtually on the 5th of November, bringing together the security leaders of 23 Pacific nations and territories, Timor Leste, the United States of America, Japan, France and Australia.

The forum facilitates discussion to collectively build resilience for future security challenges, like the pandemic we are currently facing.

The global pandemic continues to impact us all profoundly and managing the security effects in addition to social, economic and health impacts of COVID-19 is now a central challenge for our region.

COVID-19 has presented new challenges to the security environment, impacting our nations in different ways – including to our maritime and border security efforts. These challenges were not made any easier by the devastation of Tropical Cyclone Harold across Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga and Solomon Islands, complicating the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief responses that followed.

Fortunately, we have been closely engaged as partners throughout the COVID-19 period as each nation responded to the immediate challenges to our security, our health and our people.

Coming together for the Joint Heads of Pacific Security forum encourages discussion of our individual responses to COVID-19 and how we can become better than the sum of our parts. The collective knowledge and experience of Pacific security leaders informs and shapes the regional security agenda. It leads to interagency responses and resilience activities that will ensure we are future ready.

By staying connected we can respond to this pandemic together. We are stronger together and we look forward to brighter days with more regular engagement, exercises and operations. Australia looks forward to hosting the third iteration of the Joint Heads of Pacific Security forum in 2021.

Pohnpei Enginkehlap

 

November 2, 2020

DSC 0819 scaledPohnpei--On October 29, 2020, Governor Oliver received 1,500 hygiene kits from UNICEF in a handover ceremony at the Governor’s Conference Room. Director of the Department of Education, Mr. Stanley Etse, thanked Mr. Cromwell Bacareza and UNICEF Micronesia for their continued support to the children of Pohnpei and the Department of Education.

In his remarks, Governor Oliver expressed his gratitude on behalf of the Pohnpei State Government for UNICEF’s generous donation of items that will help the health and well being of the children of Pohnpei. He recalled a recent book launch at Nett Elementary School where children were given a copy of the book “Virus Stopping Champions” to help spread awareness on hygiene and COVID-19 prevention. He asked Mr. Bacareza to convey his thanks to the staff and to UNICEF headquarters.

Before turning over the hygiene kits, Mr. Bacareza outlined UNICEF’s mandate to look out for the rights and welfare of children. He thanked Governor Oliver, Director Etse, and the Pohnpei State Government for their support and the five principals whose schools will be models for the hygiene kit donations:

Principal Darlington Lebehn from Sokehs Powe Elementary

Principal Joseph Amor from Saladak Elementary

Cecilia Martin from Rohi Elementary

Rosalinda Siennes from Ohmine Elementary

Jeremy Donre from Awak Elementary School

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On November 11th, 2020, His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), having completed a thorough review of the FSM’s Education Sector Development Plan for 2020 to 2024 and, having recently endorsed a Congressional Resolution accepting a grant of $2,844,888.90 in funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs to support the FSM Special Education Program under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), received an update from First Lady Patricia E. Edwin who, in a quest for improving equity (fairness) in education, has been visiting children with special needs in schools and homes. The First Lady, who has partnered with the Nation’s educators, has been asked by President Panuelo to help in tackling this part of the Nation’s implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

First Lady Edwin has a personal investment in ensuring that the Nation’s children, including its children in special education programming, receive the assistance they need. As of November 11th, 2020, First Lady Edwin has thus far conducted two formal school visits and four formal home visits, accompanied by staff from the FSM National Department of Education and the Pohnpei State Department of Education.

Challenges facing special education students across the Nation are both significant in scope as well as effect. The FSM Education Sector Strategic Plan 2020-2024 describes, for example, that 83% of special education students graduate from their elementary school site to their secondary school site; then, 64% of special education students in secondary school graduate with their high school diploma. In other words, if there are 100 hypothetical students, then 83 of them will graduate from elementary school (with 17 of them dropping out)—and then, of those 83 in high school, 55 will graduate. Of the original 100 students, 45

Pohnpei Enginkehlap

 

October 31, 2020

Pohnpei--On Monday, October 26, 2020, Governor Oliver and Lieutenant Governor Perman welcomed the Legislative branch led by the Hon. Ausen T. Lambert, Speaker of the 10th Pohnpei State Legislature and Vice Speaker, Hon. Stevick Edwin, to the Governor’s Conference Room for a Joint State Leadership Meeting at 10:00 am.

Lt. Governor Perman and Speaker Lambert provided opening remarks for the Executive and Legislative branches, respectively. Lt. Governor Perman welcomed Mr. Rob Solomon from the FSM Department of Finance, asking him to help explain the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program (PUA). Speaker Lambert thanked Governor Oliver for initiating this joint leadership meeting and also for the FSM Department of Finance for accepting the Governor’s invitation to provide a presentation on the PUA. Mr. Rob Solomon, represented the FSM Secretary of Finance, Mr. Eugene Amor.

Mr. Solomon gave an overview of the program, including the prescribed amounts payable to qualified applicants, $166 per week, and added that from April – July 2020, an additional $600 was included in the weekly payments. He went on to add that the PUA is a U.S. Department of Labor regulated program and the FSM Department of Finance is following their rules and regulations and because FSM does not have an unemployment benefits program, the guidelines used are for the state of Hawaii. Since the start of the program, there has been $7 million paid out in PUA benefits, $4 million in Pohnpei alone. In explaining eligibility for PUA, Mr. Solomon said that everyone is encouraged to apply, but not everyone will be eligible for benefits. He said since there have been no positive COVID-19 cases in FSM, proving that COVID-19 is the reason for loss or reduction of income is crucial in the application process.

During the question and answer session that followed Mr. Solomon’s presentation, Governor Oliver reiterated an offer that was made before the start of the PUA program in Pohnpei to provide assistance to the PUA office through a State Focal Point, to help Pohnpei residents properly fill out applications and provide the required documents to qualify. Mr. Solomon acknowledged that a challenge exists with applications being properly filled out and would take the Governor’s request to the FSM Secretary of Finance. Speaker Ausen T. Lambert asked that this very important benefit be managed carefully especially in light of the ongoing compact re-negotiations.

FSM Information Services

 

1123123PALIKIR, Pohnpei—The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) recently acquired capacity-building surveillance supplies, including an AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma drone, in a handover ceremony between the Honorable Joses R. Gallen, Secretary of the Department of Justice, and Lieutenant Colonel Erin Richter, Defense Attaché at the Embassy of the United States of America. Authorized through Section 333 from Title 10 of the U.S. Code’s Chapter 16, which grants the U.S. Department of Defense “Authority to Build Capacity”, the U.S. Embassy’s provision of training and equipment to the FSM National Police is intended to strengthen the Nation’s capacity to conduct maritime and border security operations, among other operations or activities necessary for the FSM’s overall security needs.

In addition to the Puma drone, the FSM National Police also received supplies for retooling, cleaning, and maintaining the Nation’s armory.

“On behalf of His Excellency David W. Panuelo, the Honorable Yosiwo P. George, and the People of the FSM,” Secretary Gallen said, “I thank the U.S. Embassy for their continued support in strengthening our FSM-U.S. Enduring Partnership. These supplies and Puma drone will help the Department of Justice’s capacity in effectively carrying out its mandate equitably enforcing the law, and keeping our Nation secure.”

It is the intention of the FSM National Government to constantly improve its capacity in equitably and consistently enforcing the Nation’s laws. In a statement following the receipt of the supplies, President Panuelo said: “We are grateful to the United States and our Enduring Partnership in strengthening our capacity to conduct law enforcement activities. I pledged during my inaugural address in July 2019 that the Panuelo-George administration will demonstrate a commitment to the rule of law, and that this will be measured by, among other means, the newly implemented Division of Anti-Human Trafficking, the strengthening of our FSM National Police and Maritime Wing, and joining the International Police Organization (INTERPOL), the latter of which I hope to see positive developments on before the end of 2020. It is my hope that these supplies and this Puma drone will increase our Nation’s efficacy in ensuring that justice, while blind in its delivery of fairness to all citizens, has the necessary vision to witness wrongdoing where it occurs, and make a competent determination on the appropriate course of action thereof.”

Pohnpei Enginkehlap

 

November 9, 2020

IMG 20201030 115552341 HDR 1 scaledPohnpei--On October 30, 2020, Governor Oliver met with FSM Secretary of Transportation, Communication, and Infrastructure (TC&I), Mr. Carlson Apis, at the Governor’s cabinet room. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss communications, public projects, transportation, and other items to align and coordinate efforts in these areas.  Secretary Apis was accompanied by Mr. Takuro Akinaga from the FSM’s Telecommunications Regulation Authority (TRA), Mr. Jolden Johnnyboy, and Edward Albert from TC&I, Mr. Rob Solomon from FSM Department of Finance and joining via zoom, Mr. Mike Lott with FSM Open Access Entity (OAE) and Mr. Frank McLaughlin with FSM TRA.  Secretary Apis asked for Governor Oliver’s and the State of Pohnpei’s support with the liberalization of telecommunication services, listing a number of expected improvements and upgrades, including a short presentation by Mr. Mike Lott on Fibre optic access and benefits. Governor Oliver and Secretary Apis also discussed Pohnpei Transportation Authority’s potential development as a semi-autonomous entity, similar to PUC that can translate to improved service and delivery not just for Pohnpei but for the nation.  Finally, the Governor and Secretary spoke on the expected renovation of the Pohnpei State Government Administration building by China Construction Steel Structure Corporation. Secretary Apis agreed that Pohnpei’s Office of Transportation and Infrastructure will take the lead on this project.  Governor Oliver thanked Secretary Apis for his visit and looked forward to the continued coordination and alignment of State and National communication, infrastructure, and transportation projects.

The Australian Embassy

Cropped IMG 6218The Australian Embassy congratulates Peniesene Community Water Infrastructure & Storage Development Project , a recent grant recipient of our Direct Aid Program (DAP).  Acting Deputy Head of Mission, Takuro Steele, presented a cheque for $19,251.20 to Richard Dereas for the project.  The community in Weno, Chuuk does not have access to metered water and has been relying on rainwater, rivers/stream to meet their needs at household level.  With the DAP assistance provided, the project will focus on improving access to water sources through the installation of water tanks and improved water piping which will also ensure that the community will be more resilient to periods of drought.  

DAP is a flexible, small grants scheme for development activities. DAP applications can be submitted year-round. For more information and to apply online, visit www.fsm.embassy.gov.au

Pohnpei Enginkehlap

 

October 26, 2020

Pohnpei--On Thursday, October 22, 2020, Governor Oliver and Lieutenant Governor Perman met with former Governor, Johnny David, Mr. Kiyoshi Phillip, and Ms. Christina Elnei representing the Board of Caroline Fisheries Corporation (CFC). The purpose of the meeting was to present Pohnpei State’s share of CFC dividends to Governor Oliver in the amount of $412,285.71. Pohnpei State owns 42% of CFC.

Governor Oliver welcomed former Governor David to Peilapalap and thanked him and Mr. Phillip for their visit. Governor David provided a brief background of CFC operations and the current state of the CFC fleet in Pohnpei, highlighting the crucial role that Mr. Milan Kamber played for the current success of CFC.

Governor Oliver thanked Governor David, Mr. Phillips, Ms. Elnei and the Management of CFC for the dividend check and their many contributions to Pohnpei State over the years. He also thanked Governor David for his leadership and mentorship in the past, allowing him to serve on various boards, gaining valuable experience and knowledge.

Joining Governor Oliver at the meeting with CFC was Lt. Governor Perman, Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Kapilly Capelle, State Budget Officer, Mr. Leon Panuelo Jr., and Financial Consultant, Mr. Kelly Keller.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

November 6, 2020

Pohnpei—The attorney for Norleen Oliver today filed its opposition to defendants’ motion to dismiss in the civil action case against the FSM Government and officials regarding governmental actions against Oliver when she blocked the driveway leading to Patricia Edwin’s home.  As covered in the previous issue of The Kaselehlie Press, the government filed a motion to dismiss Oliver’s on October 19. As expected, Oliver’s opposition to that motion argued its reasons for denying that motion on every point.

All of these matters, the Defendants’ motion to dismiss and the Plaintiff’s opposition to the motion to dismiss are preliminary matters to any actual trial on the merits of the Plaintiff’s causes of action. The Court has yet to rule on either motion and the arguments contained in both the motion to dismiss and the opposition to that motion are merely the defendants’ and the plaintiff’s points of view and interpretations of case law precedent on the matter.  The court will now need to balance the arguments and make a ruling before anything further can be done to bring the matter to a conclusion.

In its opening lines, the opposition motion says that the “factual background” as stated in the Plaintiffs’ motion to dismiss is “full of inaccurate facts and therefore should be restated as factual ‘allegations’ instead of factual background…the Court is kindly requested to note the difference, and treat the Defendants’ factual background submission as factual ‘allegations’.”

It said that the government defendants’ claim that the civil action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted falls flat. Oliver’s attorney says that the legal standard is that a claim cannot be dismissed on that argument unless it can be said, “with a certainty, that no relief can be granted under any facts that could be proven by the plaintiff in support of its claims” which she argues cannot be said under the facts of the matter.

Oliver argues that the government defendants’ claim that by filing the civil action she is merely “forum shopping”, the practice of choosing the most favorable jurisdiction in which a claim might be heard, because

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

November 15, 2020

Pohnpei—Pohnpei’s Office of the Public Auditor (POPA) recently released its audit of the Small Business Guarantee and Finance Corporation (SBGFC or the corporation).  They found that the corporation’s financial statements represent fairly the financial position of the corporation as of the end of last fiscal year according to accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. It also found made eight findings regarding control deficiencies in the accounting system and the corporation’s own policies and procedures. Since the period of the audit, several of those findings have already been resolved.

The Corporation earned revenues of $55,214 in the 2019 fiscal year (FY), a $8,539 or 13 percent decrease as compared to $63,753 in FY 2018.  FY 2019 total operating expense was $156,396, $26,097 or 20 percent higher than last year’s figure of $130,299.  The corporation’s net assets decreased by $2,774.  The loan accounts increased from a net or $534,389 in FY 2018 to a total net of $572,086 in FY 2019.  Auditors said that one contributing factor to that change is that several accounts were paid off but new loans were approved.

The first of POPA’s deficiency findings was that the corporation made a questionable transfer of $10,000 from the restricted guarantee loan fund into its operating account for a legal consultation fee.  It said that in March 2019 the corporation paid the fee in March 2019 but that the then Attorney General learned about the arrangement and advised the corporation to terminate the contract, which it did.  In August 2019, the contracted attorney returned $9,461.24 of the original amount and the corporation deposited the money into its operation account.

POPA recommends that the board should carefully consider actions to consider whether or not they are in conformity with the law and that the Executive Director should return the returned amount to the loan

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

November 15, 2020

FSM—The FSM Office of the National Public Auditor (FSMOPA) has released a follow up performance audit on last year’s audit of the FSM Housing Program for FSM employees hired from outside of Pohnpei.  The audit revealed that substantial improvements have been made within the last year but that there are still some steps that need to be taken.

Last year’s audit contained three findings: “Possible non-compliance and lack of documentation to support determination of eligibility”; “Monitoring of the Housing Program could be improved”, and “Inadequacy of regulations for the Housing Program”.

The previous audit found that there were employees that had been locally recruited who were receiving a housing allowance. It found that there were employees who were receiving the allowance who had local spouses or parents who owned houses within normal communting distance.  Some employees were receiving a housing allowance without valid lease agreements. No inspections or housing facilities were conducted on expiration of lease agreements or termination of occupancy. Housing questionnaires were not filled out by beneficiaries at least once a year as required. Lastly, not all housing furnishings and appliances were tagged or recorded.

FSMOPA then suggested that the President take action to strengthen the capacity of the Office of Personnel in the areas of leadership and management, adequate staff, sufficient budgeting and effective system to monitor and evaluate performance.

After last year’s audit, a new law was enacted that separated the Office of Personnel from the President’s Office. A new staff position was added to the new Office of Personnel. The Personnel Specialist

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

November 12, 2020

Pohnpei—This evening, the FSM Supreme Court ruled that there was no probable cause to charge Norleen Oliver with felony “Deprivation of Rights” and has thrown that charge out. It has ruled that there is probable cause to charge her with the misdemeanor charge of “Obstructing Administration of Law or other government function.”  The Court has scheduled her initial appearance on that charge on November 23.

On October 2, the FSM Department of Justice filed a criminal information at the FSM Supreme Court based on events that occurred on September 18. On that day, Oliver parked her car on a portion of the driveway that is on her family land in an effort to block construction of a road that is scheduled to be continued on to Patricia Edwin’s family land.  The criminal information contended that in blocking the driveway she had committed at least two crimes.

“Neither the information nor the accompanying affidavit of probable cause identify the right, privilege, or immunity secured to Edwin by the FSM Constitution or laws, that Oliver allegedly deprived Edwin of,” the ruling says.  “None of the rights in the FSM Declaration of Rights would seem to be implicated, not even an FSM citizen's right to travel, FSM Const. art. IV, § 12 (‘A citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

November 16, 2020

FSM—According to a widely circulated Diplomatic Note from the FSM Department of Foreign Affairs the FSM COVID-19 Taskforce approved in principle “the offer by the United States to charter a humanitarian flight to repatriate citizens and diplomatic community members, who are stranded in Guam and beyond on December 5.”

The letter says that FSM National Government is prioritizing the repatriation of medical patients and their respective attendants, elected officials, diplomats, and students.

“In a meeting with senior staff today, November 13th, 2020, His Excellency David W. Panuelo emphasized to the FSM COVID-19 Task Force that it is the position of the FSM National Government that the repatriation effort occur, without any hesitation or reservation, so long as the Government's procedural and medical requirements are adhered to in full,” the letter said.

It then sets out those requirements.  All individuals must acquire a negative COVID-19 test result prior to entry into the Nation’s designated pre-quarantine facility in Guam which is the Santa Fe Hotel.  All individuals traveling to Guam for the purpose of entry into the pre-quarantine facility must take strong precautionary measures, such as wearing a mask at all times when in public, and avoiding non-essential activities while in transit.  All individuals must follow all pre-quarantine procedures, including all COVID-19 testing requirements, when they are at the pre-quarantine facility.

All drivers and vehicles bringing travelers to the aircraft for the purpose of the FSM’s December 5 repatriation effort must be wearing appropriate personal protection equipment such as masks and gloves, and the must be tested negative for COVID-19 within 24-48 hours of the transportation effort, and the vehicles should be appropriately disinfected.

The aircraft bringing travelers to the FSM for the purpose of the December 5th, 2020 repatriation effort must be appropriately disinfected, with all pilots and crew tested negative for COVID-19 within 24-48 hours of the transportation effort. The safety of all passengers, and specifically the safety and comfort of the medical patients and their attendants, is of paramount importance. All individuals on the aircraft must be required to wear a mask, and there must be hand sanitizer available for all individuals in substantial quantities.

The letter says that the FSM Government will be sending a more detailed description of medical procedures and requirements.

The FSM Government says that it is willing and able to accommodate eight diplomats on the flight which would be a US military transport and not a commercial airliner.  Seven of those would be allowed to leave the aircraft on arrival and enter their vehicles without contact with any individual for immediate personal transportation to their 14-day home quarantine sites.  The approved diplomats for home quarantine are US Ambassador Carmen Cantor, her spouse, and her two daughters; US Deputy Chief of Mission H. Kristin Westphal; and H.E. Jo Crawley, Ambassador of Australian, and her spouse.

Japan’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Mizuuchi Kentaro would be required to serve his FSM-based quarantine time in the Government-designated quarantine facility.

At press time, it was not clear whether or not Pohnpei’s Task Force had yet agreed to the proposed plan. A meeting to discuss the matter was scheduled for late this afternoon after press time.

Embassy of the United States of America, Kolonia

Vet 2On November 11, the U.S. Embassy Kolonia in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) partnered with the Pohnpei Veterans Association to host a series of activities to commemorate 2020 U.S. Veterans Day. To kick off the activities the Honorable Pohnpei State Governor Reed B. Oliver delivered opening remarks to a 5k Fun Run. During his remarks Governor Oliver extended his appreciation to all veterans who have served in promoting world peace and security.

Following the 5k Fun Run, a wreath laying ceremony was held at the Fallen Soldiers Memorial at the Pohnpei International Airport with veterans and their family members. His Excellency Secretary Kandhi Elieisar, FSM Department of Foreign Affairs spoke on behalf of the FSM Government. During his address he spoke about shared pride that is felt through the service of FSM citizens in the U.S. Armed Forces, including his son Michael who is serving as a Corporal out of Camp Lejeune in South Carolina. Chargé d'affaires Somer Bessire-Briers spoke on behalf of the U.S. Embassy Kolonia and expressed the U.S. appreciation to all veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. During her remarks, Chargé d'affaires Bessire-Briers noted, “The sons and daughters of the FSM who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces demonstrate our special relationship and that our two peoples share a common commitment to the values of democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights”.

A moment of silence was observed following the wreath laying ceremony in honor of FSM citizens who have fallen while in combat.Vet 1

The Compact of Free Association enables Micronesians to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, which they have done honorably since World War II. Currently, citizens from the F.S.M and other Pacific islands serve in the U.S. military at a higher per-capita rate than U.S. citizens. Congratulations to following winners for the Veterans Day 5k Fun Run:

  1. Ioanis Paulino, Time: 16:34
  2. Stevrick Leopold, Time: 17:10
  3. Fernanda Aliseda, Time: 17:14
  4. Jesse Selkar, Time: 18:39
  5. LtCol Erin Richter, Time: 20:19
  6. McMillan Benjamin, Time: 20:45
  7. Zacky Henly, Time: 20:56
  8. Keanan Likor, Time: 20:58
  9. Rothman Agrippa, Time: 20:59
  10. Dana Leeling, Time: 21:07

UNICEF

 

October 30, 2020

CCKolonia, POHNPEI – The UNICEF Chief of Field Office in FSM, Mr. Cromwell Bacareza has handed over to the Pohnpei State Government school hygiene kits, water tanks and COVID-19 non-pharmaceutical supplies in a  brief ceremony held on Thursday October 29, 2020.

The 1,500 hygiene kits consisting of  soaps, tooth brushes, tooth bases, nail clippers, nail cutters, and hygiene pads will be distributed to schools in Pohnpei State and this is expected to further support children in these challenging times of COVID-19.

The five mother schools in Pohnpei to benefit from these hygiene kits supplies include Ohmine Elementary School; Sokehs Powe Elemetary School; Rohi Elementary School; Awak Elementary School; and Saladak Elementary School.

T.H. Reed B. Oliver, Governor of Pohnpei State praised the efforts of UNICEF in assisting with these essential supplies. He said, “I believe these hygiene kits will prepare our children with lifesaving skills to prevent diseases such as cholera.”

The Director, Department of Education, Mr. Stanley Este also stated, “good health is key to better education. Unicef has always been an important partner with the department and we will continue to work with them for many years to come in giving our children a better future.”

On his part, Mr. Bacareza, UNICEF Chief of Field Office in FSM reiterated UNICEF’s commitment to children by continuously making every effort to protect children and their families, empower young people and provide essential supplies for promoting health. He said, “UNICEF will ensure all the schools in Pohnpei, including the outer islands of Pohnpei receive these hygiene kits, water tanks and other supplies intended to keep children safe and protected.”

The hygiene kits and other supplies are expected to provide first and readily accessible responses to urgent needs of children and other beneficiaries.

UNICEF

 

October 30, 2020

asdsdKolonia,  POHNPEI - The Kolonia Elementary School together with UNICEF and The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined the global community in celebrating this year’s Global Hand Washing Day that was on October 15, 2020 at the Kolonia Elementary School under the theme “Why Hand Washing is Important.”

The celebration by the Kolonia School students included activities and performances such as poem reading, power point presentations, singing, speeches and skits which the students carried out in promoting the importance of hand washing. The students also skillfully painted a water tank, donated by UNICEF with support from USAID to be used for the school’s hand washing activities.  This gave the students the opportunity to promote specific COVID-19 preventive behaviors by painting the messages on the water tank.

Mr. Cromwell Bacareza, Chief of UNICEF Field Office in FSM while interacting with the students stated that COVID-19 pandemic is an important reminder that handwashing with soap and clean running water is one of the simplest, but most effective ways to stop the spread of germs and diseases like COVID-19. He added, “many germs and viruses that can make us sick are spread when we don't wash our hands with soap and clean water, and somehow our contaminated hands or fingers find their way into mouths, eyes or nose.”

The Global Hand Washing Day is celebrated every 15 October, to raise awareness on the importance of washing hands with soap. This year, hand washing has taken more center stage as it is one of the most efficient ways to protect oneself against the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In addition, the Global Handwashing is a way of reinforcing the message that proper hygiene not only prevents transmission of diseases but keeps people healthy.

The Sokehs Municipal Government has been actively implementing their COVID-19 Preparedness Plan since it was created in March 2019, and one of the areas to prepare for was to find masks for all the students in the schools in Sokehs Municipality.  With handwashing stations already built at all public schools, the next important prevention mechanism to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is to wear a mask.

The Honorable Mr. Diopulos Diopulos, Member of the Sokehs Council –Vice Chairman on Committee on Health, Education & Social Affairs, wrote a letter to Elder Bill Davis, who heads the Humanitarian Aid office for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) out of the Guam Micronesia Service Center, requesting a donation of masks for the students of Sokehs public schools.  He told Elder Davis that “our students are facing a tremendous change in their learning,” and that “80-90% of students are not wearing masks” in schools.

Elder Davis’s reply came on Thursday October 15th with a visit to the Sokehs Chief Magistrate’s office by members of the local Mormon Church to provide a donation of 2,000 masks for the students of Sokehs Powe, RSP, Sekere, Pakin and Palikir Schools.  Each student will receive 2 masks from their school.  The Honorable Michael Lieman, Chief Magistrate of Sokehs, gratefully accepted the donation and thanked the LDS Church for responding to their request for assistance. 

CPUC Press Release 

 

October 2020 

CPUC has launched its electronic cash power service for customers that is now available at over 20 store locations across Chuuk. This provides convenience for customers to easily purchase Cash power at their nearest Retail store location without having to commute to the CPUC main office.    To purchase at a Retail store, unlike the CPUC office, the customer simply provides the meter number and the mobile phone number. The store clerk or cashier will send the cash power units to the customer mobile number, and the customer will receive it via an SMS notification on their mobile device. 

Not only does this offer convenience to its customers, it provides an environmentally friendly solution by eliminating the need for paper printing that goes to trash bins after use. Customers will also no longer need to wait in line or beat a time before CPUC closing as they can visit the nearest store location to purchase cashpower after hours.

This software solution that can be used both via a mobile and web application, and is provided by Tekconnec Inc. is the first of many improvement projects that CPUC is working on and we look forward to its success in Chuuk so that it can be utilized in other islands of Micronesia. 

CPUC

(691) 330-2400/2476

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Facebook: cpuc.power.7

Website: www.cpuc.fm

FSM Information Services

 

tggPALIKIR, Pohnpei—Recently, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—conducted the oath of office ceremony for the Honorable Samson Pretrick, Director of the FSM Office of Personnel.

“Do you, Samson Pretrick, solemnly swear that you will faithfully execute the duties and responsibilities of the office to which you have been appointed, and will, to the best of your ability, uphold, promote, and support the laws and Constitution of the Federated States of Micronesia, so help you God?” said President Panuelo.

“I do,” said Director Pretrick.

In his remarks, Mr. Pretrick said “Mr. President, I take this great opportunity to thank you and the Vice President for your trust and confidence for me to head up the Office of Personnel. As the new Director, I will do my best to carry out the duties and responsibilities of the Office of Personnel along with my good staff. I am also honored, Mr. President, to be sworn in this afternoon and to join you at your Cabinet meeting this afternoon as a new member of your Cabinet. Thank you.”

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei— The 21st Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) began its Eighth Special Session on October 26th, 2020. After the opening session, His Excellency David W. Panuelo and the Honorable Yosiwo P. George received the Committee to Wait on the President, chaired by the Honorable Esmond B. Moses, Vice Speaker of the 21st FSM Congress, with committee member the Honorable Ferny S. Perman, Chairman of the Congressional Committee on Health and Social Affairs.

Arguably the key item on the agenda, superseding others in both time and gravitas, was discussion regarding a recent proposed appropriation of fourteen million dollars ($14,000,000) in public projects, and the current lack of projected revenue to fund this appropriation in full. The public projects represent varied and essential support across a range of sectors, from streetlights and local Government subsidies in Kosrae, to food security and school construction projects in Chuuk. It is the view of the Executive Branch that the 21st FSM Congress’ commitments to the citizens of the Nation should not be compromised, particularly during this time of the COVID-19 Pandemic. As such, it was the President’s recommendation that Congress seek to even the gap by using unallotted or otherwise unused funding from public projects never initiated some years prior, as opposed to other discussed alternative solutions.

The next item on the agenda concerned legislation the President has transmitted to Congress to temporarily suspend the use of in-person-voting at the Nation’s Special Polling Places in Hawaii and Guam, so as to promote the use of absentee ballots. President Panuelo made the case that the Nation cannot know how dangerous Guam and Hawaii may be during the March, 2021 election, and so it is critical for election

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On October 29th, 2020, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—determined that it was in the Nation’s best interests that the planned October 30th, 2020 repatriation effort of FSM citizens stranded in the Republic of the Marshall Islands be delayed.

The decision was influenced by several factors, including that on October 28th, 2020, the Republic of the Marshall Islands received two positive cases of COVID-19 on Kwajalein Atoll; that, of the 23 citizens intended for repatriation, less than half had completed COVID-19 testing by October 29th; that unfortunately, legal contractual agreements between Pohnpei State and its designated quarantine facility have not been finalized; and that several crucial questions were not able to be answered due to gaps in the Government’s knowledge and data.

While the FSM National Government is not cancelling or stopping its overall repatriation effort from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the original October 30th, 2020 repatriation flight will not occur as planned. The FSM National Government remains committed to implementing all efforts to repatriate its citizens under the safest and most effective procedures necessary to protect the health and safety of its citizens abroad, as well as its citizens and residents currently residing in the FSM.

Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

 

28 October, 2020

5 2HONIARA – One of the largest maritime surveillance operation in the world, Operation Kurukuru, concludes on Friday 30 October, after two weeks of international cooperation by aircraft, ships, and national organisations to target Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing in the Pacific.

The Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) coordinates the surveillance operation which spans 21.3 million square kilometres, the Exclusive Economic Zones of 15 Pacific Island Member states and adjacent high seas pockets.  “It’s a vast area to monitor for IUU fishing.  Activities such as Op Kurukuru 20 underline the importance of our cooperation to ensure we can be effective in conducting surveillance and enforcement,” says Director General, Dr Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen.

“It is a significant commitment by our Members and Partners.  We sincerely thank all of those who participated across the Pacific.  We work best when we work together.”

There are 12 Guardian Class and Pacific Patrol Boats from Pacific nations operating alongside five French Navy and United States Coastguard vessels during Op Kurukuru 2020.  Six aircraft from the FFA and Quadrilateral regional partners are providing air surveillance, and trials are being conducted using satellites and other emerging technologies. 

Overall, 19 countries are involved in Op Kurukuru 2020.  Local and regional partners, including Fisheries, Maritime Police, Defence Forces, and other maritime security agencies were encouraged to work closely alongside one another, and the results have been positive according to Surveillance Operations Officer CMDR Robert Lewis, RAN. 

“Regional cooperation towards combatting IUU Fishing is really progressing,” says CMDR Lewis. “We’ve seen some excellent examples of organisations working together to share information, and support national priorities during this operation.”

“We’ve already identified several potential vessels of interest, that is, they may be conducting illegal fishing, have inappropriate vessel markings, or be acting unusually.  Ships or aircraft have been redeployed to look into these vessels further, and the investigations are ongoing with our FFA Members,” says CMDR Lewis.

The aim of Operation Kurukuru is to detect, deter, report and/ or apprehend potential IUU fishing activity but it also works to build capacity of National surveillance initiatives through support and mentoring from the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre at FFA. 

The Operation involves 15 FFA Members – Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Niue, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The four Quadrilateral Defence Coordination Group members – Australia, France, New Zealand and United States – work alongside the nations.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

October 31, 2020

Pohnpei—A Management Advisory Report from State Auditor Ihlen Joseph written on October 6 on the Pohnpei Outer-Islands Medical Referral Program alleges “potential abuse, misuse and mismanagement” of the program funds.  The report was written to Wincener J. David, Director of Pohnpei’s Department of Health and Social Affairs (DoHSA) and was also forwarded to Pohnpei’s Acting Attorney General. A staff member of Pohnpei’s Office of the Public Auditor (POPA) forwarded a copy of the report to The Kaselehlie Press on Friday evening, October 30.

The Pohnpei Outer-Islands Medical Referral Program is entirely funded by the Pohnpei State Government and has no relationship to the MiCare health insurance plan.

It says that POPA received an anonymous call through its fraud hotline saying that an employee of the DoHSA had been receiving, forging, and cashing checks made payable to several Pohnpei outer islands medical referral patients without their consent or knowledge.  POPA referred the matter to its Compliance and Investigation Division (CID) to begin a Preliminary Review and Administrative Investigation (PRAI) on the subject. CID compiled a detailed PRAI that covered only fiscal years 2018 and 2019 and sent that report to the Attorney General.

Based on the results of the PRAI, POPA found that a total of $50,000 was appropriated to finance the program, $25,000 per fiscal year.  The funds were approved specifically to cover round trip sea and air transportation costs for outer islands medical referral patients and also to cover living allowances or stipends for eligible outpatients’ referrals while in Pohnpei undergoing medical attention.

The daily stipend rate is set at $2.14 or $64.20 per month for each eligible patient and is only applicable and payable to outpatients on a monthly basis.  In-patient outer island medical referrals are not eligible.

During the two fiscal years examined, the sum of $48,759.20 was disbursed from the $50,000 approved for the Outer Islands Medical Referral program funds. Most of the funds expended went to pay for

East-West Center

FSM President warns that Micronesian countries may leave Pacific Islands Forum if passed over again for Secretary-General appointment

Speaking at the inaugural EWC Insights featuring Pacific Leaders event on 13 October, the President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), David W. Panuelo, emphasized the “unified” approach of Micronesian countries on the key issues facing the region: climate change, post-COVID economic recovery, the US role in Micronesia, and the selection of the next leader of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).

Pacific Regionalism

The selection of the next PIF Secretary-General is emerging as a test of Pacific regionalism. The 18-member bloc has traditionally rotated the position among the three Pacific sub-regions of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. To date, a Micronesian has held the position only once out of six terms. Now, all five Micronesian countries—FSM, Kiribati, Nauru, the Marshall Islands, and Palau—are united in insisting that the bloc should honor its commitment to rotational leadership and appoint the Micronesian candidate, current Marshall Islands Ambassador to the US, Gerald Zackios. The PIF needs to “show confidence in the North Pacific” and give the Micronesian sub-region its turn to lead, President Panuelo said.

Climate Change

As they fight for an equal voice in the South Pacific-dominated regional architecture, the atoll nations of Micronesia are also on the frontlines of the Pacific region’s existential struggle to survive the impacts of

SPREP

More than 40 people have completed the Micronesia Challenge Young Champions internship program since it was launched in 2009. The 2019 – 2020 intake saw five interns representing each of the five Micronesia Challenge jurisdictions, mentored by community conservation leaders. This year in celebration of the 2020 Micronesia Challenge goal, each intern developed short films that highlight the marine and terrestrial conservation efforts and their socio-economic impacts upon people’s livelihoods.

Now ready, these films will be launched over the weeks ahead.

“We’re really excited by the stories being told by our Micronesia Challenge Young Champions. Over the past decade this program has seen our Young Champions support the outreach work of the Micronesia Challenge while building their networks and skills in nature conservation,” said Miss Geraldine Datuin the Micronesia Challenge Coordinator.

“2020 is a huge milestone year for us and we can’t wait to share these films as part of our celebrations.”

In 2006 leaders from Micronesia united, committing to effectively conserve at least 30 percent of the near-shore marine resources and 20 percent of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020. In doing so it led to a myriad of benefits for people and their communities including the capacity building of young Micronesians.

As of 2020 the Micronesia Challenge had supported over one-hundred college certificates, degrees and internships for youth and staff due to programs such as the MC Young Champion Internship, Bill Raynor MC Scholarship and Association for Promotion of International Cooperation (APIC)-Sophia University Scholarships. Out of more than one-hundred youth, there were forty-three people that completed the

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

October 31, 2020

Pohnpei—On  September 18, the Pohnpei Office of the Public Auditor (POPA) issued a Management Advisory that concluded, subject to further review and determination by the Pohnpei Attorney General, that the employment services contracts of doctors at Pohnpei Department of Health and Social Affairs (DoHSA) are binding obligations of the Pohnpei State Government. A POPA staff member sent the document to The Kaselehlie Press in the waning business hours of October 30.

Since the Management Advisory was issued nothing much has changed.  Several doctors at DoHSA have resigned and more have indicated their intention to do so.

The Acting Attorney General has never issued a legal opinion on the matter of what has come to be known as “Max Pay”, a term that is based on the law that defines maximum pay for public servants.

An informed source says that doctors are not public servants but professional contract employees remunerated under the terms of their contracts and not the “Max Pay” law which applies to public servants.

POPA disagrees and says that the contracts were “not in compliance with relevant legal frameworks”.  But they also noted that “the doctors’ employment services contracts were prepared, routed and signed-off by the responsible Pohnpei government officials involved, including the Attorney General.”  As such, POPA issued the opinion that Pohnpei seems to be on the hook for withheld payments. It said that opinion was subject to the legal opinion of the Acting Attorney General who has not weighed in on the matter.

POPA’s Management Advisory said that POPA was engaged to review and assess the 28 doctors’ salaries, including differentials paid during the first six month of the 2020 calendar year. During their review that

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

October 19, 2020

FSM—FSM Government attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss the civil action (CA 2020-018) filed by Norleen Oliver against the FSM Government, the Secretary for the Department of Justice, and two National Police officers. The named individuals were sued both personally and in their official capacities.  They filed their motion to dismiss on October 19.  According to Marstella Jack, attorney for Oliver, she has until Friday November 6 to file a motion in opposition to the motion to dismiss and is currently working on that motion.

Oliver filed her suit in response to actions the government took regarding a planned road project funded by a Congress special projects law.  That civil action contained 10 causes of action against the government and its operators, some of them stemming from the confiscation of her vehicle which she has admitted she used to block the road that goes through the land where she lives in Ipwal, Sokehs.

In its motion, the government describes the current state of the road to the First Lady’s family home as, “still being unpaved with deep potholes and ditches in several places (that) continue to cause inconvenience to the road users. It is a huge security risk to the President, the first family, and their security detail.”

The government’s motion to dismiss says that the civil action should be dismissed for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and for failure to implead an indispensable party. It says that the suit

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

October 26, 2020

IMG 7460Pohnpei- PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On October 26th, 2020, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) formally celebrated the 75th United Nations Day, an annual and legal FSM national holiday held every 24th of October. The event began with a parade across Kolonia Town with a stop in front of the UNDP office for the unveiling of a banner celebrating the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.

On arrival at the Kolonia Town gymnasium, the formal portion of the program began beginning with remarks by the Honorable Bethwel Henry, Speaker of the 1st FSM Congress, the Honorable Kandhi A. Elieisar, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Honorable Cromwell Bacareza, Chief of the FSM’s United Nations Children’s Program (UNICEF).

Local humanitarian organizations and others, each involved in at least one aspect of the UN’s Strategic Development Goals, the FSM is actively pursuing operated information booths with games, prizes and free giveaways.

Speaker Henry’s welcoming remarks detailed the Nation’s appreciation both for its own unity as the FSM, comprised of the States of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae, and for the Nation’s evolution from a colony and proto-colony under four separate countries’ jurisdictions into a sovereign country recognized throughout the World for its commitments to the global community and solidarity through membership in the United Nations. The Speaker noted his appreciation that Pohnpei State itself is a united entity, whose diversity of ethnic and linguistic groups stand together as one, and that Pohnpeians stand with Yapese, Chuukese, and Kosraeans as Micronesians. “We thank all of you for joining us in this celebration,” Speaker Henry said, emphasizing that the FSM stands with the United Nations in Shaping Our Future Together.

Secretary Elieisar’s UN address described the FSM’s benefits and commitments achieved through the principles of solidarity, inclusivity, and multilateralism, noting that His Excellency David W. Panuelo said in September that “it is crucial, in both times of peace as well as times of calamity, that the international community stand together, and that an infringement on the rights of one is the same as an infringement on the

FSM Information Services

 

IMG 7168PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On October 10th, 2020, the Honorable Patricia E. Edwin, First Lady of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), joined the 8th International Day of the Girl Child and Superhero Funwalk with His Excellency David W. Panuelo. Sponsored by the Embassy of the United States of America, with partners such as the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF), First Lady Edwin congratulated girls for the unique, important, and essential role they play in our Nation’s development, solicited the support of the U.S. Embassy, UNICEF, and the National and State Departments of Education in expanding the Girl Scouts program across the FSM, and advocated for girls, including girls with special needs, to both be better served by opportunities provided to them and to actively partake of such opportunities.

“All children are deserving of love and inclusion, whether they are young boys or young girls, and I am grateful that we can share this day together, most especially with the young girls with special needs,” First Lady Edwin said. The mother of a child with special needs herself, who has capably grown into a financially independent and productive member of society, First Lady Edwin further stated “I took the liberty of inviting 35 young girls from the Pohnpei Department of Education’s Special Education services. You being here makes today extra special and I hope that we see today as the launching of further inclusion of girls with special needs in social activities.”

“Today it is all about you,” First Lady Edwin continued, “YOU young girls of this great Nation and beyond. You are here today because someone believes in you. That someone could either be your mom, your father, your teacher, a teacher aide, or simply a volunteer who believes in you that you can be whatever you are meant to be. And it is the dedication of parents and of adults involvement today that will empower our girls for tomorrow.”

First Lady Edwin described how, while many countries required centuries of development to achieve equal rights for women, that such equality is “embedded in our Constitution. We have equal opportunities. We have equal rights to education.” Further describing, and naming examples of, women in the FSM who actively represent the Nation abroad (e.g. Her Excellency Jane Chigiyal, the FSM’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations) and at home (e.g. the Honorable Monalisa Abello-Pangelinan, Pohnpei State’s Attorney General), First Lady Edwin suggested that “for those of you wondering why we don’t have any women in the National Congress, you have until the beginning of November to put your name in the March, 2021 election.”

First Lady Edwin noted that it has been unquestionably demonstrated that countries that invest in girls, such as by providing them quality education and healthcare, and empower girls, such as by providing them equal rights and opportunities to grow, such as the Girl Scouts program, become measurably stronger economically and politically. The First Lady then announced that she and President Panuelo are opening a national conversation about how to align National Government resources to more directly support State Departments of Education and programs that benefit children.

“As girls in the FSM, you deserve to know what your Government is doing to provide you the opportunities you need to succeed, just as you are obligated to acknowledge that the only person who defines success

Pohnpei Enginkehlap

 

October 10, 2020

121366525 206624297585682 5124393918908184942 oPohnpei—On Saturday, October 10, 2020, the Department of Public Safety’s 911 dispatch received a call at approximately 4:58 pm reporting a fire located at the Paideng Building across from the former public market area of Kolonia Town. State and Kolonia Town Police responded to the 911 call immediately.

Upon their arrival, Pohnpei Utilities Corporation (PUC) crews were already on scene, securing electricity to the location. Pohnpei Fire and Emergency Services personnel arrived approximately 10 minutes after the 911 call was made and contained the fire at approximately 5:42 pm. Firefighters remained on the scene until approximately 7:00 pm to make sure the fire was completely extinguished.

It is fortunate that no one was hurt and the call to 911 was made quickly.  At the moment, Police are investigating the incident and the cause of the fire is not known at this time.

Director of the Department of Public Safety, Mr. Patrick Carl, advises the public to call 911 immediately when a fire is noticed and not to fight or extinguish it themselves. Keep lighters and matches away from children at all times and do not leave cooking unattended. For home electrical repairs, always call certified electricians. For business owners, ensure fire extinguishers are on the premises at all times and employees are trained in their use.

Thank you to the Men and Women of the Pohnpei State Department of Public Safety, Kolonia Town Police, and Pohnpei Utilities Corporation for their service. For more information on this press release, please contact the Public Information at 320- 2235 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—During the months of September and October, 2020, the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia’s (FSM) Customs and Tax Administration intercepted two separate consignments of illegal weaponry, which have since been confiscated and handed over to the FSM National Police for investigation.

In September 2020, two Customs Officers from the Customs Field Office in Yap State were carrying out a routine physical inspection of containers at the Waab Commercial Dock. The officers came across undeclared boxes of gun parts, as well as a bow and arrows.

In October 2020, two Customs Officers from the Customs Field Office in Pohnpei State were carrying out a routine physical inspection of a container in Kolonia. The officers discovered six thousand (6,000) rounds of ammunition.

The September and October discoveries of illegal weapons and ammunition imports come after two relevant cases involving the illegal importation of ammunition have been heard by the Pohnpei State Supreme Court, with both cases prosecuted by the FSM Department of Justice.

The first such case occurred in August 2020, wherein Ms. Quleen Saimon was convicted and appropriately sentenced for the offense of illegally importing ammunition in a passenger’s checked-in luggage. The

Micronesian Productions

In recognizing the need to provide accurate and informative public information to the people of FSM on the benefits of Physical Exercise, the FSM Department of Health, the FSM Diabetes Program and the Preventive Health Services Advisory Council, are launching a Public Awareness Campaign by holding statewide campaign Activities during the months of (October to December) to help achieve our goals and objectives under the FSM Guidelines for Healthy Living.

The main goal is to raise awareness of the newly proposed FSM Guidelines and especially focus on the benefits of handwashing and physical exercise and provide public education on the definitions and benefits associated with the Guidelines.

The FSM NCD Program is recommending the “BE FIT Exercise Program”.  The BE FIT program teaches us about the three kinds of physical activities. They are Flexibility, Strengthening, and Endurance. With BE FIT, F stand for Frequency, I for Intensity, and T is Time

Flexibility is stretching or loosening muscles and joints. It helps to improve balance and coordination and to prepare your body for other exercise or activities. The goal is for everyone to do 10 minutes of stretching exercises without stopping to increase our flexibility.

Look for other public awareness materials such as billboards, radio program and social media postings to learn more about the BE FIT program and help you make better decisions for healthy living.

By: Myron Yoma

MRCS youth Volunteer

Myrons StoryjpgAs a young person, I have experienced first-hand how some people can underestimate youth, and fail to recognize the innovative thinking, energy and problem-solving that younger people can bring to the table.

The world today is facing a new pandemic, that has infected over 15 million people and claimed thousands of lives. All over of the world, including the FSM, governments and aid agencies are building awareness about the COVID-19 virus.

The Micronesian Red Cross Society plays a vital role in preparing and supporting the community through awareness raising. We do this through house to house outreach, using mostly youth volunteers from different parts of the island of Pohnpei.

I was part of that youth volunteer group, working alongside my fellow volunteers and Red Cross staff to visit communities by going door to door and talking to those at their homes.  As a volunteer having the responsibility to educate and inform the community about the pandemic was challenging, yet exciting, and most importantly, inspiring. The main goal of the outreach was to cover every single household on the island, including the outer islands.

With over a thousand households on the main island, the task was already a significant challenge. The outreach began in late March 2020 in the municipality of Nett. There were only 15 youth volunteers and staff and we had a plan to visit more than a hundred households in less than a week. At the time, the weather was extremely changeable, and we would go from being soaked under the pouring rain and later drying under the hot sun.

Most people we encountered were happy to listen and it was wonderful when people praised our efforts. Unfortunately, some ridiculed us and implied that we are wasting their time, and it’s never nice or easy when people would throw us off their property, and a few of the youth volunteers were even sworn at.

My experience during the outreach was challenging and exciting and I would consider this experience as one of the best in my life. I got to visit places I had never been to, and had the opportunity to meet new people and learn new things. I even developed a few leadership skills by leading my own outreach team.

We started with 15-20 volunteers as we began our community outreach but by early August, we had over 60 youth volunteers. I believe our work inspired many to take action and contribute to this effort.  With all the challenges, excitement, and inspirations, during those few months, I created new bonds and connections with people and together we connected with the community – house by house. I strongly believe that we made a great impact on COVID-19 awareness.

For me, this experience has taught me that I can live up to my moto, the Xavier mission statement, that encourages us to become leaders and to be a man or woman for others. This means being a person who is selfless, caring, and that has initiative; a person that sacrifices their free time to serve others who are in need.

To me, that is what being a Micronesian Red Cross Society youth member is all about and I can’t wait to continue supporting.

UNICEF

 

08 October 2020

121161665 204933467754765 8155866164814089712 oThousands of Pacific island children will now get an opportunity to learn more about COVID-19 and be virus-stopping champions through a new partnership between UNICEF and NABU, a New York-based non-profit organization specializing in the distribution of children’s books.

Last week, the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia, together with UNICEF and NABU, launched the storybook, The Virus-Stopping Champion: The Pacific Islands Edition to support children during the global COVID-19 pandemic across the Pacific region.

“We are proud to be working together with Pacific Governments, development partners, and NABU to launch a COVID-19 children’s book specifically developed for children in this region,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Sheldon Yett.

One of the greatest challenges currently facing children in the Pacific is understanding and coping with the changes brought by this global pandemic while continuing to carry on with their daily lives.

The Virus-Stopping Champion features a child superhero who learns how to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus to help keep her community safe. This storybook provides a platform for parents and families to access accurate information and sensitive ways to talk to their children about the virus.

The storybook will enhance the knowledge as well as confidence that children need to protect themselves and their families during this global pandemic.

“The Virus-Stopping Champion book is a very creative way to engage our young children to be important messengers on COVID-19. The children would be able to educate parents, friends, neighbors,

UNICEF

 

October 14, 2020

Kolonia, POHNPEI – Early this month, the Pohnpei State COVID -19 Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) sub-Committee of the Department of Health and Social Affairs (DoHSA) in partnership with UNICEF began presenting awards to 24 Lucky Winners of an ongoing COVID-19 poll.

The COVID-19 poll is a weekly short survey that that has been running since August 2020 through answering of basic questions about COVID-19 preventive practices and it is expected to increase the of participants about how to protect themselves and also prevent the spread COVID-19 virus. The poll questions are usually sent and received in the form SMS text and all text responses are FREE of charge to all participants.

Receiving his award, Mr. Norbert Samuel of Sokehs, one of the Lucky Winners said, “this is a good way of engaging people to learn more about COVID-19 and how to protect themselves.” “I hope the questions can be broadcasted on the radio or published in the newspapers so that many more people can have the chance to also participate.” He added.

Another award recipient, Ms. Kimberly John from Kolonia, said, “The questions and answers were very educational. It helps me understand more about the virus and how to protect myself and my family. I would like to encourage everyone to participate to increase their knowledge about this virus.”

The Chairman of the Pohnpei RCCE Working Team, Mr. Peterson Sam who is also the Commissioner of Pohnpei Public Broadcasting Corporation said that the COVID-19 National weekly poll is expected to continue running every Friday and they are encouraging everyone to actively participate in this free SMS poll to further increase their knowledge about COVID-19 and the preventive behavioral practices to adopt.

UNICEF

 

10/14/20

Kolonia, POHNPEI – On Saturday, 11October 2020, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF North Pacific Office, Mr.Cromwell Bacareza joined Ambassador Carmen G. Cantor of the U.S. Embassy in the Federated States of Micronesia, and the First Lady of the Federated States of Micronesia Patricia E. Edwin to commemorate this year’s International Day of the Girl.

The event, which brought together over hundred people including students from Nett Elementary School was held at the Pohnpei Cinemas parking lot as part of the maiden Superhero fun run/walk hosted by the US Embassy, Kolonia. In their remarks, the dignitaries at the event unanimously expressed their total support in promoting the inclusion of girls in all aspects of social development of the Federated States of Micronesia.

The International Day of the Girl is an annual campaign with girls to amplify their voices and stand up for their rights. This year’s theme, “My voice, our equal future”, aims at seizing the opportunity to reimagine a better world inspired by adolescent girls.

At the same event, UNICEF took the opportunity to distribute a number of the recently launched NABU children’s storybook,The Virus-Stopping Champion: The Pacific Islands Edition to help children learn about how to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and to help keep their community safe.

SPC & UNDP

Joint release

 

16 October 2020

Pohnpei, FSM – Sixty-one (61) participants from key national and state government agencies and civil society organizations in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) gathered for a three-day workshop on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) in Disasters and Climate Change recently. The training which included 35 women and 26 men highlighting the importance of mainstreaming protection, gender and social inclusion issues into development programs that seek to build the resilience of people and communities.

The workshop was organized by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Emergency Management (DECEM), and the Pacific Community’s (SPC), Human Rights and Social Development Division (HRSD), under the “Enhancing Disaster and Climate Resilience in FSM through Improved Disaster Preparedness and Infrastructure (EDCR FSM)” project funded by the Government of Japan.

UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Resident Representative Levan Bouadze, said that “We are strongly committed to working with our partners from government, civil society and the development community to take concrete actions to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment as an essential and cross-cutting strategy in our resilience programmes.”

In his opening remarks, Ambassador of Japan to FSM, H.E. Hidenobu Sobashima cited the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction which emphasizes that “Women and their participation are critical to effectively managing disaster risk and designing, resourcing and implementing gender-sensitive disaster risk reduction policies, plans and programmes.”

The workshop brought together participants from various government offices such as social affairs, public safety, transportation and infrastructure, resources and development, and water utilities, together with civil

John O'Connor | The Guam Daily Post

Oct 15, 2020

The Department of Public Health and Social Services, working with Yigo Mayor Rudy Matanane and the Department of Public Works, conducted an assessment Wednesday in preparation for door-to-door COVID-19 testing today at Gill Baza and Zero Down subdivisions. 

Nurses, social workers and members of DPHSS' isolation team will be part of the efforts, Public Health spokeswoman Janela Carrera said. "We'll be going basically from door to door and talking to the residents and offering the testing to them."

The testing will produce results within 10 to 15 minutes, she said. 

The initiative, which is functioning as a pilot, is a result of data indicating that the majority of COVID-19 cases are coming from northern villages.

The department is also working with Teresa Filepin, consul general of the Federated States of Micronesia.

"These areas that we're visiting tomorrow, the residents that live there are mainly comprised of those that are from the FSM community, so we want to make sure that leaders from the FSM, the consul general, is

Pohnpei Fishing Club

 

October 17, 2020

IMG 7320Pohnpei—Anglers on 15 boats participated in a big fish tournament today sponsored by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and Caroline Fishing Corporations vying for $2350 in cash prizes.  For the second tournament in a row, it was a sweltering sunny day but anglers were still able to attract some reasonably sized fish returning for the weigh in at Mangrove Bay Bar and Grill between 4:00 and 5:00.

Peter Saimon took the top prize in the biggest fish category and won the $700 prize for his 138 pound marlin.  Andolin was second with a 74 pound sailfish taking home $500.  Kenty Spencer landed a pretty 54.5 yellowfin tuna taking the third place $350 prize.

In largest of species, anglers competed for a top prize of $150 for each species. Mauricia Joseph landed the next biggest yellow fin tuna at a pretty big step down from the largest of the day. At 8 pounds, his yellowfin earned him the prize.  Dave Spencer had the biggest barracuda at 11.5 pounds.  March David landed the biggest skipjack tuna at 12.5 pounds.  Twin wahoos of 16 pounds each were landed by Marvy Spencer and by Leah Daunakamakama.  Organizers decided to split the award for the wahoos giving Spencer $125 for the biggest wahoo and Daunakamakama the top lady angler’s prize also for $125.

Dane Nighswander took home the junior angler prize of $100 for his 9.5 pound barracuda.

Uta, Beulah, Cheryl, and Jasimine sold bowls of chicken curry to benefit the Pohnpei Public Library’s video reading program and participants at the weigh in snapped it up.

Everyone had a lot of fun.  All boats returned safely.  Many thanks to all the volunteers who helped including Bill, Virginia, Cel, Serlynn and the people on the dock and the boom truck.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

October 8, 2020

FSM—Norleen Oliver DeOrio has filed a civil action (CA 2020-018) against the FSM Government, the FSM Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Joses Gallen in both his personal and official capacities, and against FSM National Police Officers Raynard Johnna and Jason Joseph, also in the personal official capacities.  The civil action requests punitive damages against each of the defendants in the amount of $100,000, general damages in an amount to be determined at trial, declaratory judgment, court costs and attorneys’ fees.

The civil action stems from FSM plans for a Sokehs Road Project that would pave a road through DeOrio’s property and terminating at the FSM First Lady’s family home. It also stems from the events that occurred on September 18 when DeOrio parked her car on the road on her property allegedly blocking it and FSM Police Officers confiscated the vehicle. The civil action lists 10 separate causes of action against some or all of the defendants.

The first cause of action is against all of the defendants.  It alleges that when Joses Gallen ordered the confiscation of DeOrio’s vehicle it was a violation of her constitutionally provided right of due process. Since the Secretary of DOJ is a representative of the FSM Government, the filing claims that the FSM Government is responsible for their actions.  “Further,” it claims, “the actions of each defendant as alleged were so malicious, opprobrious, wanton and willful and done with intent to humiliate, degrade, injure and harm plaintiff that plaintiff seeks an award of exemplary damages to punish these defendants for their outrageous

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

October 7, 2020

IMG 7003Pohnpei—The government of Japan has long been supportive of waste management projects in the Pacific though its regional J-PRISM (Japanese Technical Cooperation Project for Promotion of Regional Initiative on Solid Waste Management) program and that support continued through its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Program with the donation of over $87,000 for the construction of a new recycling center.  This afternoon, Pohnpei Governor Reed Oliver and other Pohnpei State government representatives participated in a ground breaking ceremony at the Dekehtik Land Fill where the new recycling center is already under construction.

The government of Japan donated equipment to Pohnpei’s aluminum can recycling center which, since 2017 has recycled a total of approximately 15 million aluminum cans. The program provides monetary motivation to Pohnpei residents to recycle cans rather than carelessly discarding on roadsides and other places or filling the already heavily used land fill.

Ambassador Sobashima Hidenobu said that the location and size of the current recycling center are not ideal for the proper collection of a large number of cans and that the current site causes traffic snarls on recycling days.  Further, the piles of cans waiting to be pressed has begun to cause an environmental problem with gathering mosquitoes and other insects.

“Every year we are importing millions of aluminum cans to our islands and we are only collecting and recycling about 50 percent of that and the rest remain litters and pollutants to our pristine environment,”

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

October 13, 2020—In addition to the criminal charges it filed against Norleen Oliver DeOrio related to her blocking the road on her land with her car, the FSM Department of Justice late today filed five criminal charges against her husband Mark DeOrio.  The FSM Government has also suspended both of them from their jobs at the National Government.

The FSM has charged Mark DeOrio with “obstructing administration of law or other government function”, “conflict of interest”, “theft”, “unauthorized possession or removal of property”, and “deprivation of rights”.  The charges are linked to DeOrio’s duties as an FSM Assistant Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Communication, and Infrastructure (TC&I) and in particular, his responsibilities regarding the implementation of a public project to pave a road across his wife’s land that would end at the family home of Patricia Edwin.  All of the charges are related to his allegedly haven taken a copy of what the government calls a “privileged document” from the TC&I office and sharing it with his wife.  According to the affidavit of National Police Officer Kasner Aldens, the document was a copy of a letter that Norleen Oliver DeOrio had sent to the President upon which President David Panuelo had written a note to the Secretary of the Department of Justice telling him that the FSM will proceed with the road project across Oliver’s land because the “land belonging to Trish/First Lady is landlocked.”

The letter and the hand written note are now a matter of public record since it is attached to a civil action against the government that Norleen Oliver DeOrio has filed against the government.

On the first charge, “obstructing administration of law or other government function”, the government says that because DeOrio allegedly removed the letter with the hand written note on it from the office of TC&I and shared it with his wife, his wife was able to use it to “institute an adverse action against the government.”  It says that her action directly interfered with the duty of TC&I to fully implement the “Sokehs Road Pavement Project”.  A person who is found to be guilty of this charge and be sentenced to imprisonment of no more than one year.

The second charge says that DeOrio should have known that divulging a “privileged government document” to another person whose interests are adverse to the Government would be considered to be a conflict of interest.  That crime is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years.

The third and fourth charges say that removing the document from TC&I amounted to “theft” and “unauthorized possession or removal of property”, both of which carry varying terms of punishment up to 10 years depending on the value of the item stolen or removed.  Theft of property or services of $5000 or more could garner the maximum sentence. The charges did not provide value of the letter with the hand written note.

The final charge, “deprivation of rights” also related to the alleged removal or sharing of the letter with the hand written note also carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Mark DeOrio is presumed to be innocent of all charges unless the court rules that he is guilty after a fair hearing.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

October 16, 2020

IMG 7277Pohnpei—This afternoon, the government of the People’s Republic of China turned over 10, ready-to-go isolation units to Pohnpei State.  The fully modular units were fitted out on the premises of the former Misko’s Beach. Each unit has two hospital beds and a full bathroom with shower. Each unit is separately air conditioned.

The units are not intended to be used for quarantine purposes but for isolation of patients who present with symptoms of COVID-19.

The 10 units installed and ready for use in Pohnpei are just part of the 30 total units donated to the FSM at a cost of $1.2 million.  The donation was provided by the Central Government of the People’s Republic of China, and the Governments of Guandong Province and Zhonshang City.  The units have been delivered and landed in Pohnpei. 12 will be forwarded to Chuuk for use there. Yap and Kosrae will receive four each.  The Pohnpei units were fitted out and set by China Construction Science and Industry Corporation whose Project Manager gave a presentation on the construction of the units in China, which due to lighting in the mid-afternoon sun was impossible to see.

China’s Ambassador to the FSM Huang Zheng reminded the gathered crowd at the handover ceremony that China bore the first impact of COVID-19. “(The) Virus respects no boundaries and is the common enemy of the human race,” he said.  “Both the fight to rein in the virus and the endeavor to fend off a deepening global recession call for the international community to stand in unity and engage in cooperation.  They also call for multilateralism, support for the leading role of the World Health Organization in promoting global cooperation against COVID-19 and resolute opposition to any attempt at stigmatization, politicizing or labeling the virus.  Right under guidance of this notion that we are in the same boat, China and the FSM have been standing in solidarity, offering mutual assistance and working together to fend off the virus since the outbreak of the pandemic.”

“…Nothing we do with China Aid is out of geopolitical calculation, or in pursuit of economic gains, or with any political strings attached,” he continued. “The sole purpose of China Aid is to work with other countries toward the building of a Community with a Shared Future for Humanity, which benefits the well-being of the people all over the world.”

He said that China Aid operates under four principles. He said that first China Aid respects the will of the recipient countries’ governments and people and never interferes in their internal affairs. Second, it operates for mutual benefit.  Third, it operates with openness; lastly, sustainability.

FSM Secretary for Health and Social Affairs Livingston Taulung spoke on behalf of the FSM Government saying that the FSM will within a matter of days or weeks begin bringing home its citizens. He said that the isolation units provide one more step toward readiness for that task, something that each State has been working toward since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

FSM Secretary for Foreign Affairs Kandhi Elieisar and Ambassador Huang closed the hand-over ceremony by signing the agreements between the two countries for the isolation units.  Afterward, a tour of the units was conducted.

Message by H.E. Ambassador Huang Zheng on the 71st Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China & the 31st Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and the FSM 

 

October 1st is the National Day of the People’s Republic of China.

71 years ago, the Chinese people wiped out “the hundred year’s humiliation” through a heroic and arduous struggle and became the real master of our country by founding the New China, the People’s Republic of China. For the past 71 years, especially since the Reform and Opening Up 40 some years ago, huge changes have taken place in China, recording unprecedented rapid development and long-term stability in the history of mankind. China’s comprehensive national strength and international influence have been significantly elevated and the Chinese nation has made historic leaps from standing up, growing rich to becoming strong, leading the Socialism with Chinese Characteristics into a new era. China’s GDP has increased from 367.9 billion RMB (54.18 billion USD) in 1978 to nearly 100 trllion RMB (14.73 trillion USD) in 2019, with the income per capita raised 25 times and more than 850 million people lifted out of poverty. Though a poor and backward country from the beginning, China has developed to be the world’s second largest economy and ranked No.1 in industrialization, trade in goods and foreign exchange reserve among all countries around the globe. In this historical process, the Chinese people’s sense of gain, happiness and security has been continuously bolstered. China’s human rights conditions have never been better before.

While devoted to the development of herself, China also endeavors to play the role of a builder of global peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order.

We have consistently pursued an independent foreign policy of peace and advanced the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence as the fundamental rule of international relations. China has constantly advocated for peaceful resolution to international disputes and equal status of all countries regardless of their differences in size and strength. China’s veto power in the United Nations Security Council has always played an

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On October 2nd, 2020, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—virtually joined His Excellency Thomas E. Remengesau Jr., President of the Republic of Palau, His Excellency David Kabua, President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, His Excellency Lionel Aingimea, President of the Republic of Nauru, and His Excellency Taneti Maamau, President of the Republic of Kiribati, for the Special Meeting of the Micronesian Presidents’ Summit. This release will cover some of the highlights from the Joint Communique, but will primarily focus on the Micronesian subregion’s unified effort to ensure that the rightful candidate to the position of Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), His Excellency Gerald Zackios, is upheld per the PIF’s Gentleman’s Agreement of rotating leadership on a regional basis.

Citizens unfamiliar with the politics of the PIF may appreciate the following summary. Analogous to the European Union or the African Union, while the MPS is the subregional gathering of Micronesian Presidents, the PIF is the regional entity representing the Pacific Island regions of Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia, and historically has been used to promote regional solidarity to include emphasizing the Pacific’s stance on issues of import at the United Nations. PIF Leaders agreed that the Secretary-General position shall be determined on a rotational basis, yet the last five Secretary-Generals have served from Papua New Guinea, Australia, Samoa, Tuvalu (in an acting capacity), and Papua New Guinea once more, with Micronesia being in the role only once. Per the Gentleman’s Agreement of rotational leadership, it is the Micronesian subregion’s turn, and the MPS submitted their candidate to the PIF in September 2019. The Micronesian candidate is H.E. Gerald Zackios, contemporary Ambassador of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the United States of America, and former Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The Micronesian Presidents broadly rejected the submission of candidates submitted past the formal deadline, and view the aspiration of any other nominee as one in a series of slights against the Micronesian subregion, such as the Micronesian subregion’s shock and confusion in August 2019 when the only CROP Agency in the North Pacific, the Pacific Island Development Program/East-West Center, which the Micronesian subregion broadly endorses, and which the FSM specifically views as essential to its development, was threatened to lose its status as a CROP Agency.

“It would be awful if our unity doesn’t materialize into the successful bid for Gerald Zackios,” President Panuelo said at the Leaders Retreat. “Ambassador Zackios is the proper choice per our Gentleman’s Agreement for sub-regional rotation. Our solidarity and integrity in the PIF are strengthened by this agreement, and to me this issue is non-negotiable. I don’t want this to lead to fragmentation of our PIF, but it

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On September 29th, 2020, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—signed into Public Law the budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, which began on October 1st, 2020. Due to the economic uncertainty posed by the COVID-19 Pandemic, the FY 2021 budget reflects a concerted effort to maintain the Nation’s capacity to provide essential services whilst ensuring that bureaucratic bloat is eliminated. Thus, while the FSM National Government’s FY 2021 budget is $63,760,476 (compared to $71,808,353 for FY 2020), FSM citizens will only see an increase in services through the retention of all contemporary Government programming and the development and implementation of the Office of Veterans Affairs.

The FSM National Government’s FY 2021 budget is $63,760,467. The Executive Branch’s FY 2021 budget includes $22,664,212 for its operations, which is approximately one and a half million dollars lower than the FY 2020 budget of $24,115,623. The Legislative Branch includes $5,745,625 for its operations, which is nearly two million dollars lower than the FY 2020 budget of $7,675,860. The Judicial Branch’s FY 2021 budget includes $1,549,969 for its operations, which is nearly two hundred thousand dollars lower than the FY 2020 budget of $1,724,023.

While the great bulk of the budget remains consistent with previous fiscal years to provide essential services to the Nation’s citizens, differences include funding the Office of Personnel (previously under the Department of Finance & Administration and the Office of the President respectively) as a separate standalone entity, so as to better empower the office to fulfill its mandate, as well as the development of a new Office of Veterans Affairs.

Other highlights in the budget include the appropriation of $13,823,696 for capital improvements, development programs, and human resources development. Beyond ongoing support to the College of Micronesia-FSM and the FSM Fisheries & Maritime Institute, the FY 2021 budget includes $661,713 for developing and implementing a National Social Indicators Survey, as well as $320,812 for the Localization of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the FSM, and $112,740 for “Assessment & Research to revive the [National Minimum Competency Test]”, historically the Nation’s primary means of meaningfully comparing primary and secondary school student performance in areas such as English and Mathematics.

In addition to the formal FY 2021 budget’s appropriation of resources for essential services, social protection programs which began during the COVID-19 Pandemic, such as the $16,000,000 FSM Economic Stimulus Package (i.e. the Tourism Sector Mitigation Fund), the $800,000 FSM Stranded Citizens Relief Fund, and the $36,000,000 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, remain ongoing. Citizens affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic are encouraged to learn more about these social protection programs at https://dofa.gov.fm/

Habele

 

Young Island Readers YIR Yap Micronesia FSM.jpg ii 2Colonia, Yap- Starting this fall, “Young Island Readers” offers all children born on Yap one, new, age-appropriate book each month until their fifth birthday. Books are mailed, individually wrapped, to the family’s post office box.

This is possible through a partnership between Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and Habele. The Imagination Library offers children free, home-delivered books through collaborations with local nonprofits. In Micronesia, Habele is that local partner. In 2020, the program will be piloted in Yap with the vision to expand across all FSM States in the coming years.

To raise its share of the costs of books and postage, Habele began fundraising in mid-summer. The response was unprecedented. At the head of the line was Roger Gale who served as the Director of Friends of Micronesia in the mid 1970s. The group fought tirelessly for the United States to grant the people of the TTPI the opportunity for self-determination. Five decades later, Gale remains a committed supporter of the people of Micronesia. 

When he learned about Young Island Readers Gale pledged to personally match all donations in 2020. This generosity came as no surprise to Micronesians who know Gale well.

“Many present and past leaders in the Micronesian region—Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Republic of Palau and RMI—owe a considerate debt of gratitude to Professor Roger Gale for training, shaping their political minds, and augmenting their political careers.” explained Hon. Asterio R Takesy, former Micronesian Ambassador to the United States, and a student of Professor Gale’s in the early 1970s.

“I’ve come to respect him even more for continuing to support Micronesians in their search for a place in the sun,” continued Ambassador Takesy, who now leads the FSM’s Joint Committee on Compact Review and Planning.

Habele’s individual donors -mostly former Peace Corps volunteers and other Americans with a personal connection to the islands- stepped up to the challenge of Gale’s generous matching offer. So did the Matson Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Hawaii-based shipping company that serves ports throughout Micronesia and across the Pacific.

Young Island Readers is also generating investment and advocacy closer to home. The College of Micronesia-FSM recognized the direct, innovative and efficient model of the universal program with a $15,000 contribution.

“These young readers are COM-FSM’s class of 2035,” explained Caroline Kocel, Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Quality Assurance. “This is a direct, high yield investment in our future students by the college, and a manifestation of its commitment to the success of the FSM as embodied in its mission.”

With investments in the program made, and a partnership with Yap Catholic High School to help sign up newborns across Yap secured, Young Island Readers aims to serve as a direct, efficient, and empowering model for developing early literacy across the FSM.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

September 23, 2020

IMG 6770Pohnpei—This morning, Pohnpei Governor Reed Oliver, his cabinet members, and Lt. Governor Feliciano Perman met with Ambassador of Japan to the Federated States of Micronesia Sobashima Hidenobu for a handover ceremony of equipment donated by the Government of Japan under its Economic and Social Development Program of 2016.

The donated equipment began to arrive in Pohnpei in July of this year and much of it has already begun to be put to use.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, individual hand-over ceremonies were not held for each piece of donated equipment. The total amount Japan committed to the FSM was 350 million Japanese Yen, approximately $3.2 million US dollars.  Approximately 80 million Yen or $740,000 was allocated for use in each of the four FSM States.

The donations included one biological coagulation analyzer for use by the Department of Health Services.  The analyzer can quickly provide measurement of blood platelet levels for a variety of medical uses at the hospital.

The donations also included two water tank trucks for use by the Department of Public Safety. The Departments of Resources and Development and the Environmental Protection Agency each received a wood chipper.  The Pohnpei Transportation Authority also received two dump trucks and four excavators.

During the handover ceremony, slides of each piece of machinery were displayed rather than having each item of equipment at the site of the ceremony which has previously been done.

“We understand that the 4 excavators have already been mobilized to construct quarantine facilities in preparation for receiving the Pohnpei citizens and residents from abroad for the first time since March this year, and we are glad that Japan’s cooperation is effectively and efficiently utilized to counter COVID-19, said Ambassador Hidenobu. “I hope that the equipment procured from Japan will contribute to sustainable economic and social development of Pohnpei State,” he concluded.

Governor Reed Oliver profusely thanked the government of Japan for its continuous assistance to the people of Pohnpei.

After the ceremony, Chief of Staff Suzanne Lowe Gallen said that it is important to note that the new equipment is not intended to supplant equipment already owned and operated by the private sector but to increase capacity.

FSM Information Services

 

HARMON, Guam—On September 25th, 2020, the Consulate of the Federated States of Micronesia in the U.S. Territory of Guam announced that, despite the Government of Guam’s recent laxation on some components of its lockdown, it will be moving towards providing all citizen services remotely.

                The Honorable Teresa Filepin, Consul General of the FSM to Guam, requested permission from the FSM Department of Foreign Affairs for the closure of in-person services due to multiple direct contacts with COVID-19 infected individuals and/or their immediate family members who reside with them.

                Even when the Government instituted a total lockdown, the Consulate continued to provide citizens with crucial assistance ranging from passport applications to inquiries regarding FSM financial assistance. Other services, such as certificates of identity, notary public, public unemployment assistance, delivery of supplies, mails, payments, ground arrangements for repatriation, and assistance to Members of Congress for their attendance in Congressional Sessions, were ongoing.

                “Although our main service windows were closed to the general public since the first week of lockdown,” Consul General Filepin said, “In practice we were still assisting on average 25 visitors a day through our back and side doors.”

                The Consulate advised that, on September 23rd, 2020, a minimum of four (4) individuals, either with a confirmed case of COVID-19, and/or a direct household member of an individual with COVID-19, interacted with Consulate staff.

                “I cannot, in good conscience, continue to subject my staff to this type of hazardous environment,” the Consul General said. “We will divert calls to our mobile phones again and work remotely from home.”

                His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the FSM, praised Consul General Filepin and her staff for their continued support to the stranded citizens in Guam, in addition to ongoing services to the FSM community at large. “I thoroughly endorse the Consul General’s request to shutdown the Consulate until such a time that it can be confirmed that the Consulate is clean from COVID-19, and that all staff have been tested for the virus. I appreciate that the decision to close down the Consulate at this time will not be popular with our citizens abroad, but I trust everyone will understand that the decision is predicated on the need to keep our citizens safe from the virus.”

FSMTC again objects to the move calling it unconstitutional

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

October 3, 2020

FSM—In August of this year, FSM President David Panuelo transmitted a bill to the FSM Congress that among other things seeks to transfer ownership of the Pohnpei Spur from the HANTRU-1 fiber optic line from FSM Telecommunications Corporation (FSMTC or Telecom) to FSM Telecommunications Cable Corporation (FSMT Cable).

It’s not a new idea and many of FSMTC’s objections to the proposal are similar to when the concept was raised before.  Despite objections and claims to the contrary, FSMTC’s CEO Fredy Perman says that it is not opposed to competition. “Competition is coming,” he said. “That’s a fact and we’re okay with that but it should be fair competition.

He says that if the bill passes it would amount to an unconstitutional seizure by the National Government of its assets that essentially “disenfranchises all of the (FSM) States” each of which is a stake holder in FSMTC.

Perman says that the plan to transfer ownership of the Pohnpei spur makes an assumption that has not been verified that the United States Rural Utility Service (RUS) would be willing to transfer FSMTC’s debt for the Pohnpei spur of the HANTRU-1 to FSMT Cable.  As did his predecessor in the previous FSM Administration, FSM Secretary for Transportation, Communication, and Infrastructure (TC&I) Carl Apis testified in front of the Congress Committee for TC&I that the US had indicated its willingness to transfer the balance of FSMTC’s loan for the Pohnpei spur to FSMT Cable which would take Telecom off the hook for the $12 million RUS loan it took for the Pohnpei spur in 2009.  Perman asked for written documentation of the assertion. He said that the answer was only that they “have their sources”.

To date Telecom has paid nearly $10 million dollars to RUS on the loan for the Pohnpei spur since 2009. The loan matures in February 2032.  Nearly $4 million of the amount paid has applied to the principal. $6 million was for interest.  The balance is currently over $8 million.  Perman says that the bill before Congress makes no effort to reimburse FSMTC any portion of the $10 million in amortization it has already paid

By Pohnpei Fishing Club

 

September 26, 2020

IMG 6774Pohnpei—Members of the Pohnpei Fishing Club braved the blazingly, sunshiny day today for the 13th annual Blue Nile fishing tournament.  “It was good to have a tournament even if the fish are socially distancing from our boats,” commented Steve Finnen, the Club’s Secretary. This was the club’s first tournament this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic arrangements.

Sponsors for the tournament were Blue Nile, Ocean View West Wing, Arnold’s, and David Panuelo.  Ambros Inc./Budweiser provided a 12 pack of Budweiser to each boat that weighed in at the end of the tournament.

Chris Knight won the $600 top prize for biggest fish overall, a beautiful 87 pound Yellow Fin Tuna.

Joseph W. Ferdinand landed the second biggest fish, a 24 pound Yellow Fin, winning $400 and a $25 Ocean View gift certificate.  Marvey Spencer landed a 23.5 pound Yellow Fin for third place of $300 cash and a $25 Ocean View gift certificate.  Oliver Hawley nabbed a 22.5 pound wahoo for fourth prize of $200 and a $50 Arnold’s gift certificate. Dicklet Paul landed yet another Yellow Fin Tuna. At 21.5 pounds, it was enough to land him the fifth place prize of $125 and a $50 Arnold’s gift certificate.

All anglers who won species prizes were awarded $100 cash and $25 Blue Nile gift certificates. Franklino Barnabas and Kenty Spencer caught twin 20 pound Yellow Fins and so had to split the cash for the first prize. Each still received a gift certificate. Sabino Youngstrom caught a 16 pound wahoo winning second prize.  Third was Patricia Edwin for her 13 pound Skipjack tuna.  Fourth place was Michelle San Nicolas for her nine pound Barracuda.

Two top prizes were awarded to the top lady anglers. Each received $50 gift certificates and cash prizes.  Michelle San Nicolas caught a 21 pound Wahoo for the first place cash prize of $150.  Trishia Panuelo’s Wahoo was 14 pounds earning her the second prize of $100.

Dave Spencer, Jr took first and second place prizes in the junior angler category, taking home a total of $150 cash and $50 in Blue Nile gift certificates. Both of his fish were Yellow Fin. One was 21.5 pounds and the other was 18.5 pounds.

The Pohnpei Library sold hot dogs and hamburgers to help them buy more books. Check out their revamped kid’s section which also received a nice donation from the U.S. Embassy.  Thanks to Uta, Cheryl and Mahbel for helping out.

Also we want to thank Bill, Virginia, Cel and all our volunteers on the dock and in the boom truck.  Additionally thanks to Mangrove Bay for hosting us.  We appreciate the use of the facility.

The club is trying to schedule one or two more tournaments this year.  Details on those will be released as information becomes available. Remember a membership to the Fishing Club this year is good for 2021 also.

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On September 22nd, 2020, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—and the Honorable Yosiwo P. George, Vice President of the FSM, after several days of fruitful and in-depth engagements with the FSM COVID-19 Task Force, announced that the Nation’s repatriation efforts will begin with FSM citizens stranded in COVID-19 free jurisdictions. The President instructed the Chair of the COVID-19 Task Force and Secretary of the Department of Health & Social Affairs, the Honorable Livingston A. Taulung, to proceed with focusing all repatriation-related efforts on bringing home FSM citizens stranded in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

The President described that the repatriation of citizens from COVID-19 free jurisdictions, such as the Marshall Islands, would be the ultimate test in assessing the Nation’s capacity to implement repatriation from COVID-19 affected jurisdictions, such as the U.S. Territory of Guam. By treating the Marshall Islands as a COVID-19 affected jurisdiction for repatriation purposes, the President explained, the FSM will be able to fully play out a live and genuine return-scenario, but without the actual threat of COVID-19 arriving into the Nation. Thus, if there are any more gaps or weaknesses in the adopted standard operating procedures, they would be identified and fixed without the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

“This Pandemic has been an extended hardship—emotionally, mentally, and financially—for our citizens stranded abroad and for our citizens at home,” the President said in a statement. “I appreciate and recognize that our citizens in the FSM support maintaining the closure of our border until such a time that the Pandemic is no longer a threat. I also recognize that our citizens stranded abroad are desperate to return home. I remain committed towards accomplishing the dual goals of preventing COVID-19’s entry into the FSM while ensuring the safe return of our citizens genuinely stranded abroad.”

“I appreciate and understand the sacrifices our citizens abroad in Guam and Hawaii have been making, either in the process of waiting to come home or by helping friends, family, and even strangers who are stranded. The Government continues to support citizens stranded abroad in multiple forms, totaling more than $800,000 of assistance, whether it’s through per diem and lodging provided by MiCare to medical patients, financial support to students, or the Stranded Citizens financial package, which has helped more than 250 of our citizens. We remain committed to exploring additional means of support where possible.”

“With the rising cases of COVID-19 in Guam and around the world, with nearly one million deaths globally, and more than 200,000 in the United States, 35 of which are in Guam, FSM citizens deserve the absolute best system in place to keep them safe from the virus. There’s no better test than real life, no better practice than the real thing, and I am confident that repatriation of our citizens stranded in the Marshall Islands will demonstrate, without any shadow of a doubt, on whether or not we are truly ready to begin the repatriation of our citizens stranded in COVID-19 affected countries and territories.”

To the knowledge of the FSM National Government, approximately 40 FSM citizens are stranded in the Marshall Islands, the bulk of whom are residents of Pohnpei State and Chuuk State. For comparison, it is to the knowledge of the FSM National Government that approximately 297 citizens are genuinely stranded on Guam, of whom 134 are residents of Pohnpei State, 120 are residents of Chuuk State, 13 are residents of Kosrae State, and 30 are residents of Yap State.

Pohnpei Office of the Public Auditor

 

Police 2020 2Kolonia, Pohnpei: September 9, 2020, the Pohnpei Office of the Public Auditor (POPA), Compliance Investigation Division (CID) conducted workshops on integrity, fraud and corruption for the 2020 Pohnpei Police Academy at the Pohnpei State Department of Public Safety (DPS). The invitation was sent from the Director of DPS, Patrick Carl for POPA to conduct a class instruction on corruption and fraud to the police academy trainees so they may have a better understanding and knowledge in the subject when they are conducting their duties on a daily basis. 

Since majority of the police officers are entry level trainees, the workshop was geared in two phases: The first part was for them to learn the impacts of fraud and how to prevent it by leading and instilling integrity, accountability and ethical conduct in their daily work activities. The other phase was focusing on how to detect and investigate fraud.

The law enforcement and police agencies had been commonly viewed as one of the most vulnerable and exposed public agencies to the risk of fraud and corruption.  Police Officers are the first responders to crimes occurred in the Pohnpei State jurisdiction. They should be upholding the law and ensuring that they strive to do the right thing in all situations to keep the public a safer place which also include discouragement of fraud. They should be leading by example to increase the public confidence and trust in their work. The training went well with active participation from the attendees.  

POPA and DPS along with the Office of the Attorney General currently has a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in place to collaborate and joint forces in combating fraud and corruption.

POPA Investigative Advisor, Sophia Pretrick and staff investigators Trinia Eliou and Derek Dainard of the CID conducted the workshop.

On September 4th, a jointly hosted daylong Safety at Sea Workshop for local fishermen at the Tuna Commission was held.   The Lieutenant Governor, Feliciano Perman, provided welcoming remarks and the Executive Director of NORMA, Eugene Pangelinan, outlined the need for the training and additional safety protocols for boats.

During the workshop, presentations were made by the Department of Public Safety, Pohnpei Port Authority, Office of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the US Coast Guard, Pohnpei Surf Club, Pohnpei Fishing Club Members, NORMA and the Tuna Commission.

To highlight some of the important discussion in the meeting, the Pohnpei Fishing Club wanted to highlight some of the important issues that were raised during the meeting,

  1. All local boats, regardless of size, need to take safety as a high priority. Boats going out need to make sure they have spare fuel, a way to communicate with someone on land, safety equipment, spare water in case of an emergency and enough food to increase their chances of survival and return home. 
  1. During an emergency, all government departments and agencies need to communicate effectively to ensure the best possible outcome for those who may be lost at sea or in need of help. At the moment, the public emergency channel 16 maintained by the Pohnpei State government is not working correctly as the repeaters that allow for communicating further at sea are not all functioning.    The public emergency channel 16 needs to urgently be tested and expanded to allow boats to effectively communicate during an emergency and possible rescue, especially operations that take place over a wide area.  The Pohnpei Fishing Club has many boats and members are often out fishing when a distress call in is made but cannot effectively communicate with the Department of Public Safety as their radios operate on a private radio channel.
  1. The state government and non-governmental organizations need to work on establishing a set standard for what safety equipment should be on a boat when they go outside of the reef. One of the top items, besides a life jacket, was a location beacons  which is also commonly called  an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB).  When activated, an EPIRB will inform the Coast Guard via satellite of a boat’s location so that rescue boats can quickly locate a boat in distress. In addition to the EPIRB, the safety equipment should include a radio, basic tools, flashlight, whistle, and a mirror.  The participants in the meeting agreed to develop a standard list of safety equipment that should be on all boats.
  1. The 2G phone network needs to be maintained by FSM Telecom. While the 3G/4G networks provide better service when near a cell phone tower, the 2G network’s signal goes almost twice as far.  Disabling the 2G phone network would severely limit fishermen’s ability to communicate both when they may need to be rescued or when there is a search for a fisherman in distress.

It was agreed by those presenting and participating in the meeting that more work needs to be done regarding safety at sea.  The club would like to thank all those who participated in the meeting, especially NORMA and it’s Executive Director, for progressing this issue of making fishing safer for everyone.

Micronesia Red Cross Society

 

jjKolonia, POHNPEI -- The Micronesia Red Cross Society (MRCS) and UNICEF are collaborating with the Department of Education to begin distributing critical supplies to schools in the Federated States of Micronesia as part of on-going efforts toprevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic while promoting health and hygiene practice. 

The supplies include infrared thermometers for regular checking of temperatures, soaps, and water bucketsto be placed at vantage locations for promoting frequent handwashing practices in schools. In addition, schools will be provided disinfectants, gloves, and boots for regular cleaning of school lavatories to ensure healthy and safe school environment.

According to Mr. Marson Rosario, Communication Officer for FSM MRCS, volunteers and partners will begin distributing the supplies to all the 31 schools, both public and private, on the main island of Pohnpei from September 22, and then expand the distribution to cover the outer Islands and Islets. He further indicated that they have developed a similarly detailed distribution plan to ensure all other schools in the remaining three States: Chuuk, Yap and Kosrae are fully covered.

Thanks to the generous contributions of donors like USAID and Government of Japan, the provision of these essential supplies by UNICEF to the over 180 schools in FSM is expected to further strengthen the preparedness and resilience levels of schools within the context of COVID-19 response.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

October 2, 2020

FSM—On September 18, 2020 Norleen Oliver parked her vehicle on the driveway on her land in Tamworohi, Sokehs and walked away. The driveway also leads to a property owned and sometimes occupied by Patricia Edwin.  Edwin claims that Oliver’s car blocked access to her land. Before the end of the day, Edwin’s attorney had filed a civil action against Oliver at Pohnpei Supreme Court.  She is claiming that the action is a “breach of contract, torts interference with a contract.” It is also a “declaratory complaint for relief of easement by necessity and/or easement by prescription.”

The Court has issued a temporary restraining order barring Oliver from blocking the driveway again. Oliver’s attorney has filed her response to the civil action denying most causes of action and has also filed a counter-claim.  The court has also enjoined Edwin from taking any action on the driveway in question, though Congress has provided $40,000 to pave the driveway to her property.  The injunction means that project also cannot go forward.

The FSM Department of Justice (DOJ) felt that the situation rose to the level of criminality and on October 2, an Assistant Attorney General filed criminal charges against Norleen Oliver in the FSM Supreme Court. During this calendar year, the DOJ had previously filed only three other sets of criminal charges against other defendants. The charges claim that when she “willfully” blocked the “road” it obstructed the free movement and enjoyment of the other residents to access their home and amounts to the crime of “Deprivation of Rights” which is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years.  DOJ also charged her with the crime of “Obstructing administration of law or other government function” because the car allegedly obstructed the First Lady of the FSM, Patricia Edwin from discharging her official duty which is punishable by imprisonment of not more than one year.

Oliver’s initial hearing is scheduled at the FSM Supreme Court at 11:00 on Monday morning. She is innocent unless the court, after a fair hearing rules that she is guilty.

The affidavit that accompanied the DOJ’s criminal charges said that National Police responded to the scene at just before 1:00 in the afternoon.  The responding officers said that they found Norleen Oliver’s car to

FSM Information Services

 

1122PALIKIR, Pohnpei—From September 28th to October 1st, 2020, the Department of Justice of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), in a whole-of-community collaboration with partners such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Kolonia Elementary School, Pohnpei State Government, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), hosted the 2nd Annual Anti-Human Trafficking Conference.

Highlights from the workshop included a view on human trafficking in the FSM from the perspective of the FSM Supreme Court, human trafficking from the perspective of a public classroom schoolteacher, mapping a referral network for human trafficking cases, and the development of action plans.

The administration of His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the FSM, and the Honorable Yosiwo P. George, Vice President of the FSM, take the issue of human trafficking seriously, as evidenced by the September 2019 restructuring of the Department of Justice to include a new Division of Anti-Human Trafficking. Fiscal Year 2021 in particular includes a range of programming complete with financial support from the 21st FSM Congress, including $125,000 for Anti-Human Trafficking Enforcement, Campaigning, and Investigation; $100,000 for Victim Shelter Services;

$50,000 for the Victim Shelter in Chuuk State; and $150,000 for the construction of Anti-Trafficking Shelters in Pohnpei, Yap, and Kosrae.

Upon the closing of the 2nd Annual Anti-Human Trafficking Conference, President Panuelo made the following remarks: “My fellow Micronesians—so long as human trafficking exists in any form in this Paradise in Our Backyards we will be unable to authoritatively say that we epitomize the Pacific Way of respect for others. I want us all to think sincerely about these following questions. How many of us in Pohnpei know

Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)|

HONIARA, 16 September 2020 - The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) has announced an initiative to create more focus on gender equality and social inclusion within the region’s tuna fisheries sector.

Announcing the initiative as part of FFA’s new five-year Strategic Plan, FFA Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, said while FFA has had gender-related policies in place since 2016, more must be done to ensure women and minority groups can fully participate in the tuna fisheries sector.

“We need to make every effort to understand the specific barriers faced by women and other marginalised demographic groups in the fisheries supply chain, so policies and practices are more intentionally inclusive,” Dr Tupou-Roosen said.

“What’s missing from our tuna fisheries work is regular gender and social inclusion analysis. Without this data, it remains difficult to understand the role and relations of women and minority groups within the broader fisheries supply chain.”

Dr Tupou-Roosen noted that sustainable fisheries are vital for achieving food and nutrition security, alleviating poverty, enhancing economic growth, and delivering social development.

“Data that better quantifies the contributions of women, people with disabilities and other relevant demographic groups will provide a platform for more inclusive policies and decision-making processes. This initiative will enable FFA to influence transformative change in the Pacific region.”

In early September, a workshop on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) was hosted at FFA which involved all employees. The “Walking the Talk” session was aimed at building a common understanding of gender equality and social inclusion within the context of FFA’s work.

“The workshop was very valuable,” said Dr Tupou-Roosen. “It has helped all of us at FFA develop a deeper understanding of how discrimination or bias related to gender and other factors such as age, ethnicity, socio-economic background, religion and disability can prevent certain groups contributing to decision-making or accessing opportunities.”

FFA hopes to support a range of Gender Equality and Social Inclusion training and awareness workshops in future within its Membership countries and the wider regional fisheries sector. The Agency is also planning a Gender Forum in Fisheries in 2021, to develop strategies for greater inclusion.

U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs Posted September 10, 2020

 

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - U.S. Indo-Pacific Command forces are participating in exercise Valiant Shield (VS), Sept. 14- 25, on Guam and around the Mariana Islands  Range  Complex.

Participants include USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS America (LHA 6), USS

New Orleans (LPD 18), USS Germantown (LSD 42) and multiple surface ships -- approximately 100 aircraft and an estimated 11,000 personnel from the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps.

Valiant Shield focuses on integration of

training in a blue-water environment. This training enables real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces through detecting, locating, tracking, and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land, and cyberspace in response to a range of mission areas.

“It is vitally important that we demonstrate to our allies and partners our strong commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Rear Adm. Michael Boyle

“Exercises such as Valiant Shield allow U.S. forces the opportunity to integrate warfighting concepts such as all-domain strike group operations in a joint high end warfare training environment to continuously improve joint lethality,” said Rear Adm. Michael Boyle, director maritime operations, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “It is vitally important that we demonstrate to our allies and partners our strong commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The participating forces will exercise a wide range of warfighting capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility and capability of U.S. naval fleet operations and integration of joint forces. The range of capabilities include maritime security operations,

anti-submarine and air-defense exercises, amphibious operations, and other elements of complex warfighting.

In coordination with military medical personnel and public health personnel, every aspect of Valiant Shield 2020 has been analyzed to ensure the appropriate mitigation measures are taken against COVID-19. The planning focused on protecting service members and their families; preventing the spread of the virus to U.S. forces, local residents, allies, or partners; and ensuring warfighting readiness in order to accomplish assigned missions.

The lessons learned from exercises like Valiant Shield assists U.S. forces in developing regional and global power projection capabilities by integrating warfighting concepts that provide a full range of options to succeed in defense of U.S. interests and those of its allies and partners around the world.

Valiant Shield is a series of military exercises that promote integration among joint forces. Each successive exercise builds on lessons learned from the previous training to enhance complementary capabilities and develop new tactics, techniques, and procedures. This training will provide the deterrence and stabilizing effects of a force-in-being, ready at the outset of a contingency, without the need for force buildup or extensive mission rehearsal.

This is the eighth exercise in the Valiant Shield series that began in 2006.

Media queries regarding Valiant Shield 20 prior to exercise commencement should be directed to the U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs Office at (808) 471-3769. Contact information for the Valiant Shield Joint Information Bureau will be made available prior to the beginning of the exercise. Imagery and stories regarding Valiant Shield can be found here:  https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/ValiantShield.

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

 

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (18 September 2020) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is committed to partnering with developing economies in Asia and the Pacific to achieve their recovery goals from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, President Masatsugu Asakawa said in an address to ADB’s Board of Governors today.

“ADB will continue to earn your trust as a steadfast partner during the uncertain times we still face in our region as we build for a strong and lasting recovery,” said Mr. Asakawa. “Our work toward a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive recovery stands on a foundation of mutual trust formed over decades of cooperation with you, our members.”

He was speaking at the opening of the Business Session of the second part of ADB’s 53rd Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors, this year held in a virtual and abbreviated format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ADB announced in April a $20 billion package to help its developing members address COVID-19. This included rapid emergency grants and technical assistance to help governments meet urgent medical needs; a new COVID-19 Pandemic Response Option (CPRO), which is supporting countercyclical expenditure programs; and assistance for the private sector.

ADB has so far committed about $11.2 billion in financial and technical assistance to fight the pandemic. Working closely with development partners, ADB has also mobilized about $7.2 billion in cofinancing.

As the region moves forward toward recovery, Mr. Asakawa said ADB will build on its relationship with its members to support them in six key areas.

First, ADB will promote regional cooperation and integration to help members seize the opportunity that renewed globalization can offer in a post-pandemic new normal. “While there are some who suggest that

By Pohnpei Enginkehlap News

 

September 10, 2020

Pohnpei—On Thursday, September 10, Governor Oliver welcomed H.E. Carmen Cantor, U.S. Ambassador to FSM, to the Pohnpei State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) office.  The purpose of Ambassador Cantor’s visit was to present boxes of trash bags and bottles of water for World Micronesia Clean-Up Day on September 12, 2020.

Governor Oliver thanked Ambassador Cantor on behalf of EPA and the people of Pohnpei for the donations to help clean up Pohnpei.  He thanked Ambassador Cantor for strengthening the bonds of friendship between USA and FSM, particularly Pohnpei with her recent traditional leader’s visits across Pohnpei.  Ambassador Cantor thanked Governor Oliver for his Office’s cooperation and collaboration with these visits.

FSM Ridge to Reef (R2R) Project

 

KITTI, Pohnpei – On Friday, September 4, 2020, a traditional ceremony was held at the WKS Community Center in Enipein Pah, Kitti to celebrate and acknowledge the field team responsible for completing the long-awaited delineation of the Watershed Forest Reserve within the boundaries of Kitti Municipality.

Pohnpei State Public Law No. 1L-128-87, known as Pohnpei Watershed Forest Reserve and Mangrove Protection Act of 1987, was established to create and provide for the protection and maintenance of an effective watershed forest reserve, to protect important watershed areas, and to provide for the conservation and management of mangrove forests. It also called for a Watershed line to be delineated and demarcated on the ground to protect native forests from human encroachment. This particular law had an initial history of resistance from Pohnpeians, as community involvement in the development of the law was virtually nonexistent in the early years after it was passed, and the proposed rules and regulations failed to recognize traditional Pohnpei resource use and authority. It was met with fierce confrontations between Government officials and local sakau farmers. Many prominent environmental experts and advocates attempted to carry out the provisions of the law but were unsuccessful.

In 2017, the FSM Ridge to Reef (R2R) Project helped revitalize the need to complete the delineation of the Kitti Watershed Forest Reserve. It all began with a small outreach and awareness team that visited communities throughout Kitti Municipality to galvanize support for the work to continue after so many years of dormancy. The community outreach efforts culminated in a decision made by the Kitti Pwihnen Wahu (Council of Traditional Leaders) for the delineation of the watershed. In 2019, the R2R Project contracted CSP to take the lead in facilitating all activities associated with the delineation of the watershed.

Friday, September 4, 2020, brought together all who played key roles in the achievement of such a significant milestone for natural resource management here in Pohnpei State. The next step is to identify and rehabilitate highly degraded areas of the forest.

The R2R Project acknowledges CSP, Kitti Municipal Government, Pohnpei State Government field team members and other partners for their hard work, commitment and continued support.

Stay tuned for our next R2R update!

For more details on the R2R in FSM project, please contact:

Project Manager, Rosalinda Yatilman, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Tel:+691 320-8815

Technical Coordinator, Rachael Nash, nash.fsmr2r@gmailcom, Tel: +691 350-4020

Financial Administrator, Fritzgerald Weilbacher I, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Tel:+691 320-8815

Kosrae State Coordinator, Marston Luckymis, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Tel: +691 370-3646

Pohnpei State Coordinator, Jorg Anson, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Tel: +691 320-1780

Chuuk State Coordinator, KriskitinaKanemotoMarar, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Tel: +691 330-6729

Yap State Coordinator, Debra Laan, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Tel:+691 330-2113

Pohnpei Rotary Club

 

September 5, 2020

IMG 1275Pohnpei—It was the first Fun Run of this Covid infected year, but it was a good one.

The Pohnpei Rotary Club held its annual Fun Run on September 5, 2020.

There was a big turnout and at least a hundred persons participated.  Given the current situation, the event was held outside with social distancing for the runners, including staggered starting times.

Additionally, no times were given out due to the staggered starting times, so the participants were only participating for fun and the awesome shirts donated by Budweiser/Ambros, Inc.

Also for one of the only times there wasn’t a tropical storm during the run.

We want to thank all of our sponsors who supported this run, Ambros Inc., Guam/Budweiser, Palm Terrace, Drops of Life, FSM Olympic Committee, Pohnpei Track and Field Club, Bank of FSM, True Value, Ace Hardware, Yapese Community of Pohnpei and Kolonia Town and the Mayor and Police Chief for Security.

The Rotary Club uses fund raising money to support our projects in Pohnpei, including scholarships for deserving Micronesian College Students, Medical Projects, including helping diagnose and treat rheumatic heart disease, the Pohnpei Little Library, sports equipment projects, and hopefully the annual Spelling Bee. We thank everyone for their support of this fund raising project.

Unfortunately everyone left as soon as they finished the run, which was good for social distancing, but they missed the 40 minutes of prepared remarks by this year’s president of the Rotary Club.

Thanks again to all our sponsors, and thanks to everyone for their support.

By Pohnpei Enginkehlap News

 

September 4, 2020

Pohnpei—On Friday, September 4, 2020, Pohnpei outer islands governments presented the Joint Outer Islands Municipal Government COVID-19 Response Plan. The government contracted Mr. Patrick Blank to help draw up the response plan and he made the presentation. The Joint Outer Island Response Plan is modeled after the State’s response plan addressing food and water security, COVID condition levels, movement, quarantine, and isolation.

The governments presented the plan to Governor Reed Oliver, Lt. Governor Feliciano Perman, and the Pohnpei State COVID-19 Task Force. Representing the Outer Islands Municipal Government were the Honorable Smithy Clark, Mayor of Pingelap, and the Honorable Senard Leopold, the Mayor of Nukuoro. 

By Pohnpei Enginkehlap News

 

September 7, 2020

Pohnpei—On Monday, September 7, 2020, the Kitti COVID-19 Task Force presented their Emergency Response and Preparedness plan to Governor Oliver, Lt. Governor Perman, and the Pohnpei State COVID-19 Task Force. 

Kitti Task Force Chairman, Mr. Herman Semes, Nahnmadau en Dehd Kitti, led the presentation which included their mission, vision, and goals.  Governor Oliver thanked the Chairman and Task Force for the plan, highlighting one of their goals listed, social distancing, as an important component of prevention and spread of COVID-19.  He urged the Kitti Task Force and Pohnpei Task Force members to lead the way for others to observe and follow with social distancing, asking “mah Kaiden kitail, ihs? Mah Kaiden met, iahd?”

By Pohnpei Enginkehlap News

 

September 10, 2020

Pohnpei—On Thursday, September 10, Pohnpei’s representatives on the Joint Committee for Compact Renegotiations (JCRP), Mr. Bethwel Henry, and FSM Vice Speaker Esmond Moses visited Governor Oliver, Lt. Governor Perman, and members of the cabinet at the Governor’s Conference Room. The purpose of the meeting was to provide updates on the ongoing compact of free association re-negotiations.

JCRP Chairman and former Ambassador, Mr. Asterio Takesy, gave a brief overview on the status of negotiations with the United States.  Ambassador Takesy said the expiring economic provisions which include sector grants, certain federal programs, and the FSM trust fund, are the focus of negotiations with the US.  Ambassador Takesy said that the US has expressed interest in the continuation of the compact and that the presence of China in the Pacific has commanded the interest of the U.S.A, particularly in Micronesia.  Ambassador Takesy said the negotiators on both sides have agreed to an ambitious work schedule to have a presentation ready for the US and FSM Congress by the end of this year. 

Governor Oliver thanked Ambassador Takesy, former Speaker Bethwel Henry, Vice Speaker Esmond Moses, and Mr. Epel Ilon for the updates.

By Pohnpei Enginkehlap News

 

September 15, 2020

Pohnpei—On September 15, 2020, Governor Reed B. Oliver, received the Committee to Wait on the Governor chaired by Senator Marvin Yamaguchi of Kolonia with members Senator Mitaro Simina of Sokehs and Senator Kasinda Ludwig of  Kapingamarangi.

Chairman Yamaguchi, on behalf of the Speaker and 10th Pohnpei State Legislature, informed Governor Oliver that the 10th Pohnpei State Legislature started its third and final regular session for this fiscal year, on September 14, 2020, which will run for 30 days.  He further advised Governor Oliver that this regular session would focus mainly on the FY-21 budget.  Senator Simina highlighted the need for the new members of the Board of Education.

Governor Oliver and the Committee discussed FY-21 Budget, COVID-19 continuing preparations and activities, Pohnpei State Government administration building renovations, Government housing renovations, and a briefing done by the members of the FSM Joint Committee on Compact Renegotiations. He emphasized the need to complete the nomination process of the remaining members of the Boards, Commissions, and Authorities including the Board of Education and several others for Legislature’s appropriate action.

On the COVID-19 and repatriation updates, Governor Oliver advised the Committee that the Pohnpei State Government is working with the FSM National Government to repatriate Pohnpei medical referral patients and students from Guam.  There will be a pre-14 day quarantine in Guam with COVID-19 testing and additional 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Pohnpei with further COVID-19 testing.  The exact numbers of residents and date of arrival have not been confirmed but will be decided in conjunction with the FSM National Government.

Governor Oliver thanked Chairman Yamaguchi and the Committee for their visit and the opportunity to share updates between the Legislative and Executive branches.

For more information on this post please call the Public Information Officer at 320-2235 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

By Pohnpei Enginkehlap News

 

September 3, 2020

Pohnpei—On September 3, 2020, Governor Oliver, Director of the Department of Resources and Development, Mr. Hubert Yamada, and Chief of Agriculture, Mr. Mark Kostka met with officials from Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, MASHAV, on a Zoom virtual conference call. The purpose of the call was to follow up on the virtual launch of the Israel-Pacific Food Alliance that took place virtually on July 2, 2020, in which Governor Oliver as Honorary Consul for the State of Israel in FSM, Pohnpei State Department of Resources and Development’s Director, Mr. Hubert Yamada, and Chief of Agriculture, Mr. Mark Kostka, attended.

In this follow up meeting, Agricultural experts, Danny Zonshine and Oded Halamit, from MASHAV spoke with Chief of Agriculture, Mr. Mark Kostka, and Director Yamada to better understand Agriculture and Food conditions in Pohnpei. Chief of Agriculture, Mr. Mark Kostka, advised the Israelis that most farming is subsistence farming and agroforestry, not for cash sales. Another condition is the high amount of rain, which can damage vegetable crops.

Director Yamada reiterated Chief Kostka’s advice on farming in Pohnpei. He noted that consistency of supply is a challenge as much of the food supply is imported. He said farming behavior, from subsistence to commercial farming, will help with increased production and was thankful for Israel’s expertise in these areas.

Mr. Zonshine and Mr. Halamit said MASHAV wants to assist by transferring proven agricultural technologies focusing on vegetable farming that can yield quicker results than bigger staple crops like wheat or rice. The idea is to develop and co-produce the same crop and plants in Pohnpei and Israel, providing online/virtual guidance with the Division of Agriculture and even the COM-FSM Land Grant program.

At the conclusion of the meeting, H.E. Tibor Shalev-Schlosser, Israeli Ambassador to the FSM and Pacific Island States thanked Governor Oliver, for the continued cooperation and support of this food security alliance, and encouraged the other states to participate in this food alliance.

FSM Department of Resources and Development (R&D) is the focal point for the Israel-Pacific Food Alliance in the country. Pohnpei State Director of the Department of Resources and Development, Hubert Yamada, coordinates all engagements with MASHAV through FSM R&D.

Pohnpei Pilot Farm

 20200907152938The plantation began operation in 2019. which is jointly built by the Hainan Provincial government and The Pohnpei Government, and jointly implemented by the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences and the Pohnpei Resource Development Bureau , with the purpose of enhancing agricultural cooperation between the two sides.

For more than a year, steady progress has been made. Planting a total of 250 coconut trees of 3 excellent local varieties. The coconut trees are growing well. During this period, a training course on standardized coconut cultivation was held, which was attended by 20 people from The Agricultural office staff of Pohnpei ,students, and local farmers. The wide-narrow row planting technique was emphatically explained to them. This training course has been recognized by the trainees.

The wide-narrow row planting technique of coconut plantation can improve the utilization rate of land. Since coconuts have a nutritional growth period of at least three years, farmers cannot reap no economic benefits during the early years of coconut plantation. By using the wide-narrow row planting technique, farmers can increase their income by interplanting other cash crops in the in the wide row of coconuts, such as pasture grass,coffee,banana ,pineapple .

Routine coconut garden management, including weed removal, pest and disease control, water pipe laying, fencing construction and so on, will better promote the construction of coconut plantation.

The successful construction of the standardized coconut plantation will continue to benefit the two peoples and consolidate the friendship between China and the FSM.

Pohnpei Pilot Farm

 20200907152938The plantation began operation in 2019. which is jointly built by the Hainan Provincial government and The Pohnpei Government, and jointly implemented by the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences and the Pohnpei Resource Development Bureau , with the purpose of enhancing agricultural cooperation between the two sides.

For more than a year, steady progress has been made. Planting a total of 250 coconut trees of 3 excellent local varieties. The coconut trees are growing well. During this period, a training course on standardized coconut cultivation was held, which was attended by 20 people from The Agricultural office staff of Pohnpei ,students, and local farmers. The wide-narrow row planting technique was emphatically explained to them. This training course has been recognized by the trainees.

The wide-narrow row planting technique of coconut plantation can improve the utilization rate of land. Since coconuts have a nutritional growth period of at least three years, farmers cannot reap no economic benefits during the early years of coconut plantation. By using the wide-narrow row planting technique, farmers can increase their income by interplanting other cash crops in the in the wide row of coconuts, such as pasture grass,coffee,banana ,pineapple .

Routine coconut garden management, including weed removal, pest and disease control, water pipe laying, fencing construction and so on, will better promote the construction of coconut plantation.

The successful construction of the standardized coconut plantation will continue to benefit the two peoples and consolidate the friendship between China and the FSM.

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei— The 21st Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) began its Fifth Regular Session on September 14th, 2020. After the opening session, His Excellency David W. Panuelo and the Honorable Yosiwo P. George received the Committee to Wait, chaired by the Honorable Esmond B. Moses, Vice Speaker of the 21st FSM Congress, with committee member the Honorable Ferny S. Perman, Chair of the Congressional Committee on Health and Social Affairs.

The bulk of the Committee to Wait discussed the proposed repatriation process for FSM citizens stranded abroad, as well the National Government’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2021. Regarding the latter, it was noted that the Government’s operations budget has a proposed increase of five percent (5%), primarily to reflect the restructuring of the Department of Justice (such as its new Division of Anti-Human Trafficking), as well as the establishment of a field office for the National Public Auditor in Chuuk State, and additional staff in the Office of the President’s Division of Public Information.

The Honorable Livingston A. Taulung, Secretary of the Department of Health & Social Affairs and Chair of the FSM COVID-19 Task Force, described where the Government is with regards to beginning a formal repatriation process for FSM citizens stranded abroad.

“We are finalizing the development of a Pre-Quarantine process in [the U.S. Territory of] Guam. Our Memorandum of Agreement with the hotel has reached legal sufficiency with the Department of Justice, and as of this morning we finalized our proposed text for the Memorandum of Agreement with the medical provider,” Secretary Taulung said.

The Secretary explained that, pending the formalization of these agreements, a successful simulation exercise in Pohnpei State, a round of COVID-19 tests for prospective repatriating citizens, the concurrence of the FSM COVID-19 Task Force and Pohnpei State’s COVID-19 Task Force, and the approval of the President, that repatriation-related activities might begin in the coming weeks with the first wave of repatriating citizens to potentially arrive sometime in October. The National Government has yet to designate a specified date to formally begin repatriating stranded FSM citizens.

“As for the simulation exercises in Yap,” Secretary Taulung continued, “We are hoping to secure a flight through a domestic carrier soon. As you know, Chuuk State is still not ready to accept our teams, but we’re advised that, once Yap is finished, then Chuuk will most likely accept our assessment team.”

The remainder of the meeting targeted discussion on pending and proposed legislation, such as the bill to include renewable energy into FSM Petroleum Corporation/Vital’s mandate, as well as brief discussion on nominations for advice and consent positions.

“We need to put somebody that can head our Consulate in Honolulu,” the President said, noting that the relative lack of coordination on the part of the FSM National Government in Hawaii when compared to Guam is due to the lack of a Consul General. “Shanty Asher Sigrah is a fine candidate and I endorse her without any reservation. I urge Congress to pass a resolution for resubmission.”

Yap State Department of Youth & Civic Affairs

Colonia, Yap. 9/18/2020. Around 2:00am on Thursday, September 17, 2020, a fishing boat operated by Liancheng Overseas Fishery Co., Ltd and owned by Huang, Shau-Chou went aground at the mouth of Peelaek Channel near Gagil and Tomil in Yap with nine crew members on board. No injuries were reported but the vessel was taking on water, according to Paul Ayin, General Manager of the Yap Fishing Authority, who received the first call.

Following established Covid-19 protocols, to minimize contact, the crew transferred themselves to their life raft and were towed to safety where they disembarked at YFA dock into a cordoned off section of the dock on the eastern side of Colonia.

At this time, it is reported that there is no spill of any type of hazardous materials, but the boat has 4,000 to 5,000 gallons of fuel on board. A salvage team is transferring the fuel into containers to minimize the risk of a spill. In addition, there is an estimated 4 tons of catch on board.

A team from the Department of Health Services wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) performed Covid-19 testing and other related procedures. Yap has no cases of Covid-19 and is taking every precaution to ensure the public's safety. Temporary housing has been set up to isolate them from the general public near the old YFTI facility. The departure date of the captain and crew is pending the completion of the ongoing investigation.

Yap State Governor Henry FaIan stated, "I want to assure the citizens of Yap that everything is being done to ensure the safety and security of our island from the Covid-19 virus. We are very grateful that there were no injuries and no fuel or oil spill, but we are taking every precaution to isolate the crew and test them for the virus while preventing contact with local workers. The Health Crisis Task Force has been working for several months to prepare and contain the virus if and when it arrives. The members of the task force have been thoroughly trained and are acting quickly and efficiently alongside the other agencies to mitigate the situation."

Liancheng works with YFA to operate fishing boats from YFA's dock. The catch is flown out once a week on Asia Pacific Air. This is the second time this vessel has visited the state.

In addition to YFA and OHS, the other responding agencies are Yap State Department of Resource & Development, Office of Planning & Budget, Department Public Works & Transportation, Yap Health Crisis Task Force, Public Safety and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China

BlessingOn September 4th, H.E. Ambassador Huang Zheng attended the handover ceremony for 2 school buses donated by China’s Zhongshan City to Madolenihmw Municipality. Around 30 guests were in attendance, including Mr. Brendy Carl, Assistant Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Mary P. Mudong, Representative of Honorable Reed Oliver, Governor of Pohnpei State, T.H. Shelten G. Neth, Chairman of Health & Social Services of 10th Pohnpei State Legislature and Chairman of Madolenihmw Delegation, His Majesty Herbert Hebel, Wasalapalap Isipahu Nahnmwarki of Madolenihmw, T.H. John Adolph, Iso Nahnken of Mdolenihmw, T.H. John Rensle, Acting Meninkeder Lapalap (Mayor) of Madolenihmw, teacher and student representatives, and Counselor Zhang Weitao, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Chinese Embassy.

Looking back on the ins and outs of the school buses project, Ambassador Huang pointed out that both Chinese and the FSM governments at all levels take education as a priority. Ambassador Huang said, we’re fully aware of the difficulties in school education caused by high mountains and remoteness in Madolenihmw. The donation demonstrates our willingness to support and assist the FSM in its pursuit of sustainable development in all economic and social sectors, including education. Ambassador Huang emphasized that China’s foreign aid is conducted on the principles of equality, mutual benefit, openness and sustainability, without any political precondition attached on, thus it’s the sincerest and most selfless one. Ambassador Huang said, by donating to the FSM, be it school buses or medical supplies for enhancing anti-epidemic capacity, China is taking concrete actions to implement the Xi Jinping Thoughts on Diplomacy, whose content is centered on working to build a Community with a Shared Future for Humanity. The 2 school buses were particularly customized for Madolenihmw, adapting to local climate and geological conditions. Zhongshan City has enjoyed dynamic friendly exchanges and cooperation with a number of municipalities in the FSM, including Madolenihmw, which consists of an important part of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between China and the FSM. Ambassador Huang hoped that the 2 school buses can provide high-quality service for many years, allowing the project to serve the public interest indeed and helping the people of Madolenihmw to learn more about China. Ambassador Huang said, China stands ready to make joint efforts with the FSM to implement the important consensus reached by Chinese President Xi Jinping and FSM President David Panuelo during their summit in Beijing last December, to further develop the China-FSM Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in depth and width and to consolidate our Great Friendship on the fundamental bedrock of the One-China Principle.

Mr. Brendy Carl and His Majesty Herbert Hebel appreciated the donation of 2 school buses, taking them as a solution to a long-term problem. They extended sincere thanks for China’s generous selfless help to the FSM in FSM people’s struggle for national independence and the pursuit of economic and social development. They said, Chinese aid stays close to grass-root communities which constitute the FSM society from the bottom up, and attends to ordinary people’s most pressing needs, therefore, it is practical, timely and effective. It also lays a firm social and public opinion foundation for the China-FSM Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and our Great Friendship. Bearing in mind the kindness received from its Chinese friends, the FSM will continue to strengthen communication and cooperation with Chinese localities, including Zhongshan City, and Chinese people from all walks of life, elevate the China-FSM Comprehensive Strategic Partnership to new heights and jointly build a Community with a Shared Future for Humanity.

At the handover, religious leaders blessed the school buses and the wife of His Majesty Herbert Hebel cut the rainbow, abiding by a unique matriarchal custom of Pohnpei State.

The 2 school buses are funded by Zhongshan Municipal Government of China’s Guangdong Province and were manufactured by China’s Zhengzhou Yutong Bus Co.,Ltd.. The donation agreement was signed by Zhongshan and Madolenihmw representatives last year during the visit to the FSM by Mr. Feng Yurong, Vice Chairman of Zhongshan People’s Congress Standing Committee.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

September 18, 2020

Weno, Chuuk—On September 15, a notice appeared in the window of the FSM Post Office in Weno, Chuuk saying that until further notice it could only accept outgoing mail to Pohnpei, Kosrae, and Majuro.  No explanation was given on the printed notice.

FSM Postmaster General Ginger Mida was on official travel when the FSM shut its borders due to COVID-19 and has been unable to return since then. When we asked about the notice, she said that she was shocked to hear about it and would call the Chuuk Post Office the next morning to find out what was happening and would get back to us.

When she was able to return our call after gathering information, she said that the Chuuk Post Office Post Master had violated protocol by placing the notice without proper clearance to do so.  She said that she was sorry for the people who saw the notice which has since been removed.

There was indeed a problem, but even on the day that the notice was posted at the Chuuk Post Office, outbound mail to the US and other places besides those listed on the notice was able to move onward.

Mida said that United Airlines and their contractors require US Postal Service (USPS) authorized Delivery and Receipt (D&R) information on mail that it carries. A new scanning machine was installed which prints the D & R tags after electronic transmission to the USPS. Sometimes, due to the time differences between the FSM States and Hawaii, USPS receives the transmission too late for action and so the machine cannot print the authorized D&R tags that must accompany all postage bound for the US.

She said when that happens, the FSM Post Offices can fill out a “Form 2729” which lists the date, weight, trip number, and clerk initials.  United or its contractors can carry the mail as long as that form is filled out.  It’s what happened on the day that the notice limiting outbound freight appeared at the Post Office in Weno.

Mida said that USPS is aware of the glitch and hopes to have a solution to it in place soon.  Meanwhile, outbound postage from the FSM to the US is still traveling unhindered.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

September 18, 2020

Pohnrahkiet, Pohnpei—Some local residents of Pohnrahkiet were astounded at the end of last month to find notices posted in their village telling them that it was against the law to consume alcohol in the village.  One resident wrote a strongly worded letter to Kolonia Town Mayor Peterigo Jacob with copies to Kolonia Town council members, the Chief Justice, the Prosecutor, the Pohnrakiet Head Chief, and to the Kaselehlie Press.  In it she claimed that she felt that her fundamental civil rights had been violated and she threatened to sue.

“This is an old law and someone’s going to challenge it,” said Mayor Jacob. “I’m not a lawyer but it seems like discrimination to me and I think someone does need to take it to court.”

Kolonia Town Prosecutor Nixon Aldan said that the ordinance (6C-018-04) was initially passed in 2004 at the request of the village leaders. It has been on the books since then.  He said that when it was first passed Kolonia Town police arrested many people for violating the ordinance.  One of the people arrested and charged with violating the ordinance argued as part of his defense that the law was unconstitutional according to Kolonia Town’s Constitution.  Aldan said that legal advisers then recommended that enforcement of the ordinance should be stopped until the Court had ruled in that case.

But the Court never ruled on that case.  The defendant took a plea bargain deal requiring him to pay a small fine. The Court never had opportunity to rule on the Constitutionality of the ordinance that banned alcohol consumption only in a small part of Kolonia Town’s jurisdiction.  But the legal advisers never told Kolonia Town’s law enforcement officers that it should start enforcing the ordinance again.

The ordinance essentially languished in obscurity until last month when, during an oversight hearing, the Kolonia Town Council asked for a report on enforcement efforts of the long dormant ordinance.  In response, the notices went up to remind residents of the 16 year old ordinance and the intention to start enforcing it again.

Aldan opined that it is an unusual ordinance in that both Kolonia Town and Pohnpei State have laws regarding open alcohol containers and laws that prohibit drinking in public. The old but still active ordinance completely bans consumption of alcohol including within the homes of residents in Pohnrahkiet but nowhere else in Kolonia Town.

The ordinance applies only in the area set aside by the Pohnpei State Government for people of Kapingamarangi who resides in Pohnpei. It does not apply to private properties such as that owned by the family of Senator Ferny Perman. It does not apply to their Hideaway Bar and Grill where they sell alcohol.

Miyuki Perman said that after the notices went up last month, some residents of Pohnrahkiet have again taken to making the short walk to her private property so that they can drink.  Just as when the ordinance was originally passed, and many times since then, her family has been forced to call police to handle rowdy drunks on their property, including at their hotel and restaurant.

For now, whether the ordinance is old, whether it has been consistently enforced, and whether it is Constitutional, it is in place and the Executive Branch of the Kolonia Town government is required by law to enforce it.

The Association for Promotion of International Cooperation (APIC),

 

Tamae Waguk KosraeTOKYO – A graduate student from Kosrae in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) was recently recognized for having one of the top academic records in the Sophia University in Japan. Ms. Tamae Waguk, who is attending Sophia University on an APIC-MCT International Student Scholarship, overcame significant odds when she got stuck on Kosrae because of the novel Coronavirus pandemic and couldn’t return to Tokyo. Tamae finished her thesis and completed her final semester despite having to write her thesis in the yard outside of her home so as to not disturb her family, with the light of her laptop screen attracting swarms of mosquitoes. She completed her final year at Sophia with a Grade Point Average of 3.93, with 4.0 being only A grades.

               

“For Tamae to complete her written thesis in Kosrae was indeed challenging. As all islanders know, Internet access is not stable and often her ability to download academic papers and do work online depended on the weather, specifically because her home depends on solar power. That isn’t something students have to struggle with when doing their studies in Japan,” said Professor Anne McDonald, a senior faculty member in the Graduate School of Environmental Studies at Sophia University.

               

“We are thrilled – but not surprised – by Tamae’s outstanding academic performance in Tokyo,” added Executive Director William Kostka of the Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT), which is based in Pohnpei, FSM. MCT and the Tokyo-based private foundation The Association for Promotion of International Cooperation (APIC), partner with Sophia University to award two annual full-ride graduate scholarships in Environmental Studies at Sophia.

               
“Our goal in sponsoring this scholarship is to train Micronesians to lead their fight on the climate change front. Tamae is showing us how that’s done.”  added Ambassador Peter Yoshiyasu Sato, president of APIC. APIC’s mission is to strengthen Japan’s relations with the nations of the Pacific and Caribbean. This is the fourth year that the APIC-MCT International Student Scholarship is being offered.

Waguk, who graduated from Sophia University this month, is scheduled to start work in September in Kosrae as a Technical Officer with the FSM Ridge to Reef project. She also earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Guam in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and Economics.  She also studied at the College of Micronesia-FSM.

               

Waguk is following in the footsteps of her late father, Erick Waguk, a well-known forestry expert on Kosrae. He died shortly before his daughter began her studies in Japan, Tamae Waguk used many of her father’s books, research papers and field notes to write her thesis.

The Micronesia Conservation Trust, headquartered in Pohnpei, supports biodiversity conservation and related sustainable development in the region comprised of the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, U.S. territory of Guam and U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.  The MCT’s Bill Raynor Micronesia Challenge (BRMC) Scholarship Program also supports graduate students selected for this initiative. One of the first Micronesia graduates of the Sophia program, Ms. Bertha Reyuw, now serves as MCT’s Capacity Building Program Manager and oversees this scholarship program for MCT.

               

Sophia University is considered one of the top research universities in Japan.  It was founded in 1913 by the Roman Catholic order The Society of Jesus, better know as the Jesuits. About 14,000 students attend undergraduate and graduate programs at the university, which is located in central Tokyo.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

September 20, 2020

Pohnpei—Pohnpei has provisionally set October 10 as the date for the first arrival of patients and their attendants who were off island for medical referral when the COVID-19 related travel ban to the FSM was established.  Some students who had been studying in Guam when the travel ban was established could also be repatriated at that time. Two doctors who have been stranded since March 21 will also travel on the return flight.

“We’ve indicated to national that they can bring all Micare medical referrals (from Pohnpei) who are stranded in Guam,” Pohnpei’s Chief of Staff Suzanne Gallen said.  However some of those patients are receiving medical care in Guam that they can’t get in Pohnpei. “MiCare will advise within the next few days if they will make the flight or stay back for more treatment.”

Right now it looks like approximately 30 people could be part of the October 10 flight. No passengers will be allowed to disembark in Chuuk.

The FSM has made financial arrangements with the Santa Fe Hotel to be used as a quarantine center for passengers who will be the first to return to Pohnpei.  They will be required to quarantine at that facility for 14 days before the October 10 flight which means they would have to entered quarantine by September 26 at the latest.

Gallen said that the FSM has also contracted Health Services of the Pacific to do medical monitoring and testing for COVID-19 at the quarantine facility in Guam.  Palau earlier also hired the company to test its citizens before they were allowed to return home.

On landing in Pohnpei, the passengers will immediately enter quarantine for another 14 days and will also be tested before they will be allowed to return to their homes.

Gallen says that it is trying to coordinate another simulation exercise a few days before the scheduled return of the flight.  Though she says that it is expected that the simulation exercise will go well because of the exercises that preceded it and lessons learned there, another exercise would give the Task Force opportunity to make any of the corrections that are caught on that day.  “The likelihood is very small that it won’t go well,” Gallen said.

The FSM government, MiCare, and the FSM Consulate in Guam is currently in the process of informing FSM citizens in Guam of the requirements for this first re-entry.

Gallen said that the Pohnpei government will base future repatriation plans on the success of the currently schedule repatriation procedure.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

September 11, 2020

IMG 6747Pohnpei—On Pohnpei Liberation Day the US Embassy to the FSM hosted a reception commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II at the official residence of US Ambassador Carmen G. Cantor. World War II formally ended on September 2, 1945.  Pohnpei was liberated from Japanese occupation on September 11 of that year.

Immediately upon entering guests were treated to a remarkable black and white photo display tastefully printed on canvas frames.  The photos were from the World War II era and can now be seen on display at the Pohnpei Public Library until September 30.

Amanda Lih Abello sang the FSM and United States National Anthems to begin the ceremony.

Yvonne Hawkins read a beautiful poem of restoration that her grandfather wrote in 1945 for Pohnpei’s Liberation.

Senator McGarry Miguel shared from his encyclopedic knowledge of Pohnpei history, the story of 179 men from Kitti who were taken by Japanese forces to Kosrae.  When Kosrae was liberated on September 8, 1945, some of those men were repatriated to Pohnpei. Miguel, who has spent most of his life learning Pohnpei’s history from those who lived through it and who orally passed it on to him would do well to put his knowledge into book form.

During the ceremony, the Kitti singers performed two traditional songs from the days of occupation. Miguel explained the significance of the songs during his speech.

FSM President David Panuelo addressed the crowd as well.  His speech, quite often extemporaneous, began with his recalling his own memories of exploring World War II relics as a young boy, and evolved into a solicitation for all peoples and nations to practice empathy and embody peace with one another.

“It is a blessing that today Micronesians are joined by their American, Japanese, Chinese, and Australian friends alike,” President Panuelo said, “Because today we share enduring friendship and partnership, committed to peace, friendship, cooperation, and—most of all—love in our common humanity. It is the memory of our collective suffering that we recognize that empathy is strength—not weakness.”

Addressing His Excellency Hidenobu Sobashima, Ambassador of Japan to the FSM, President Panuelo said: “During my visit to Japan last October, to celebrate the Enthronement of His Majesty, the Emperor, I was most impressed with the peacefulness of Japan and the Peaceful Harmony of our Reiwa Era. While I read stories and history of a Japan that once knew war, the Japan that I know and have experienced is a Japan committed, and entirely devoted to, the promotion of peace and harmony amongst all peoples and nations throughout the world. It’s one of the reasons we truly support Japan becoming a new and permanent member of the UN Security Council. It’s why the FSM and Japan share a lasting special bond of Kizuna.”

“…Today, we are also celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, and the reminder of the Second World War,” President Panuelo said. “What is needed in 2020 and beyond is World solidarity with one another. As we know in our hearts and have seen reinforced from our past, all human life is priceless and valuable. Empathy is not weakness—empathy is courage, and empathy is strength. It is through empathy, and a multilateral global community, that our World can overcome any challenge, including COVID-19 and Climate Change.”

“I conclude,” the President said, “by wishing everyone here peace in their hearts, and that war remains something that we imagine but never something that we have to experience again.”

US Ambassador Cantor also addressed the crowd, beginning first with lengthy greetings in the Pohnpeian language, which onlookers claimed she did very well.

“WWII made an immense impact on virtually all the Micronesian islands,” she said. ”All were scarred by their experiences, Pohnpeians, Chukese, Yapese, Kosraeans, Americans, and Japanese. Micronesians were caught in the middle of what for them was a foreign conflict and suffered incredibly…In the 75 years that followed WWII, the Pacific has enjoyed relative peace, prosperity, and friendships. Where once animosity existed between the United States and Japan, and enduring alliance and partnership has grown. Former enemies have joined together to ensure a stable, free, and prosperous region, dedicated to the idea that together we can deter the spectre of war.

“Liberation not only reunited families but it led to the unification of a nation—the beginning of a federation of states with a unique and special relationship with the United States. Our bonds are strong…Let us never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedoms, our values, and our way of life. And let us celebrate the peace and partnership their sacrifice created for us today,” she said.

Capping off the Embassy reception was a flyover by a KC-135 stratotanker refueling aircraft. It was the same plane that recently successfully spotted three missing fishermen from Chuuk State on Pikelot during a search and rescue operation earlier this year.

Many traditional, political, and diplomatic leaders and other invited guests attended the reception which ended after food was served.

Embassy of the

United States of America Kolonia

dvvdThe U.S. Embassy Kolonia held a “Women’s Empowerment” panel discussion and dinner reception August 28 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which gave women the legal right to vote. The panelists who discussed the important topic included the Honorable FSM Vice Speaker Esmond Moses, 21st Congress of the FSM; the Honorable Senator Herolyn Semes-Movick, Pohnpei State Legislature; Mr. Cromwell Bacareza, Chief of Field Office UNICEF; and Ms. Emeliana Musrasrik-Carl, Director of Court Administration FSM Supreme Court. The U.S. women’s suffrage movement began in 1848 when women demanded the right to vote during the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Women leaders across the United States lobbied, marched, and protested for the right to vote. Today, even though civil rights work continues, the U.S. celebrates the landmark victory for step towards equality. During the event August 28, Senator Movick emphasized the importance of women supporting women to create necessary changes in society. Vice Speaker Moses noted that women face many challenges including cultural and religious restrictions and society. The United States Government is committed to empowering women in the FSM to reach their full potential.

September 7, 2020

Kolonia, Pohnpei—The ad hoc National Food and Nutrition Technical Working Group headed by Mr. Wayne Mendiola, Assistant Secretary for the FSM Department of Education organized a Stakeholder’s meeting on August 30, 2020 at the UNICEF FSM Office in Kolonia, Pohnpei to discuss critical factors and plans in relation to the creation of the National Food and Nutrition Commission (NFNC).

When established, the goal of the NFNC, would be to help improve the health status and wellbeing of the people of the Federated States of Micronesia through improved food and nutrition. UNICEF is particularly committed to supporting the establishment of this commission as it believes nutrition is the bedrock of child survival, health, and development in any country. Well-nourished Micronesian children are better able to grow and learn, and to participate in and contribute to their communities, and to be resilient in the face of diseases. FSM as a nation recognizes the critical role of nutrition in preventing and controlling NCDs and reducing susceptibility to infections, including COVID-19, in both children and adults. 

Other key participants at the meeting were representatives from FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs (Tobacco, Sports, NCD), Pohnpei State Health Services- Public Health, and Island Food Community of Pohnpei, representing the Civil Society Organizations

Supports World Heritage Site Nan Madol, develops robotics skills at participating high schools, and promotes government operations and accountability

 

Office of the Assistant Secretary

Insular and International Affairs

 

WASHINGTON – The Trump Administration announced $608,180 in fiscal year 2020 grant funding provided through the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs’ (OIA) Technical Assistance Program (TAP) to support the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).

“The Secretary and I are pleased to support a wide-range of grants for various programs and priorities in the Federated States of Micronesia,” said Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech. “These funds will help promote and protect World Heritage Site Nan Madol on Pohnpei while also furthering traditional weaving and carving knowledge in Yap. Funds will also support youth robotics programs in participating high schools in all four FSM states, train public auditors, and help the Pohnpei State Government track and prioritize foreign aid.”

“The U.S. Government is proud to play a key role in ensuring FSM youth are an integral part of the future but at the same time are firmly rooted in the proud history of the nation through cultural preservation of Nan Madol and FSM cultural traditions,” said U.S. Ambassador to the FSM Carmen G. Cantor.

Fiscal year 2020 Technical Assistance Program grant funding totaling $608,180 will be provided to support the Federated States of Micronesia for the following projects as detailed below:

  • • Habele (a non-profit organization) - $358,525 will be used to support the Habele Robotics League, a program that promotes the development of engineering and math skills through robot building and 3D printing at twenty-three public and private high schools on Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap States in the FSM. Habele is a U.S.-based non-profit organization founded by former U.S. Peace Corps volunteers and who work on-ground with stakeholders in the FSM.
  • • FSM Office of National Archive, Culture, and Historic Preservation - $55,760 will be used to support a vegetation removal and management program at the Nan Madol World Heritage Site in Pohnpei. Funding will also be used to create and develop signage leading to Nan Madol, located on the opposite side of the island from the airport and town center.
  • • Pohnpei State Governor’s Office - $50,500 will be used to strengthen Pohnpei State’s Aid Coordination Unit responsible for coordinating and strengthening management of foreign assistance to Pohnpei. Funds will be used to develop a database for tracking and the develop formal procedures and guidelines, to include local policy guidelines on coordination and implementation of external resources provided to Pohnpei State.
  • • Habele - $41,300 will be used to support the Micronesian Adze Blade Project to design and develop steel versions of the Micronesian adze, formerly made of shell and stone and used historically for carving out traditional Carolinian canoes or proas. Habele will work with master carvers and navigators to design and develop a range of traditional Micronesian adzes for distribution to local carvers in support of efforts across Micronesia to sustain and expand the production of canoes, once the sole mode of transport in Oceania and used by traditional celestial navigators who traveled the Pacific Ocean without Western instruments.
  • • Habele - $35,550 will be used to support the Weaving Connections Project whereby women in the freely associated states and in the United States will collaborate to teach and learn traditional Carolinian weaving skills, using a back-strap loom to produce fine textiles used to make wrap around skirts, also known as lava lavas. The project aims to protect and promote centuries-long traditions of weaving while also supporting connections between communities of Pacific Islander women in freely associated states and in the United States.
  • • Kosrae State Public Auditor’s Office - $35,000 will be used to upgrade the website for the Kosrae State Public Auditor’s Office and support public auditor training, that includes participation in an annual auditor’s conference in the FSM and the Association of Government Accountants conference on Guam.
  • • Chuuk State Public Auditor’s Office - $31,545 will be used to support public auditor participation at the Department of the Interior Office of the Inspector General’s annual conference and to purchase related study materials.

The OIA Technical Assistance Program is made available each year by Congress to support priorities in support of the U.S. territories and the freely associated states. For more information on grant assistance provided through OIA, please visit: https://www.doi.gov/oia/financial-assistance.

The Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, @ASIIADomenech, and the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Follow and “like” OIA on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/InsularAffairs.

Noumea, 27th August 2020 – A new look Pacific Regional Fisheries Ministers Meeting, which started virtually yesterday, has tabled key concerns on the state of coastal fisheries, climate change and marine pollution. Their decisions reflect regional priorities for the fisheries and marine sector.

Cook Islands Prime Minister and Minister of Marine Resources, the Honourable Henry Puna, addressed the meeting stating that “One undeniable and tangible resource, asset, and lifeline that we all possess is our shared fisheries resources” and called for initiatives to diversify the use of fisheries and marine resources, using innovative and collaborative approaches. While highlighting the Pacific’s strong response to the national and regional security threats the COVID-19 pandemic has posed, he stressed the importance of enhancing fisheries management, maintaining food and economic security.  “Our collective response must always reflect how much we value our people, and the mana, resilience and Pacific community spirit, that underpins the very fibre of our nations’’ he said.

The meeting, chaired by the Honourable Marion Henry, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) Secretary for the Department of Resource and Development was hosted online, gathering Fisheries Ministers and officials from the Pacific Island Forum countries and territories as well as regional organisations  

The talks covered regional coastal fisheries and aquaculture priorities and the impact of COVID-19 on these fisheries, the 2020 Coastal Fisheries Report Card, and options for enhancing discussions on community based management of coastal fisheries. Ministers also endorsed the Regional Framework on Aquatic Biosecurity.

One of the key resources that helped to frame the meeting was the Coastal Fisheries Report Card, presented by the Pacific Community (SPC). It provides annual regional reporting on the current state of Pacific coastal fisheries across a range of biological, social and economic indicators. The report card highlights the importance of coastal fisheries for food security and livelihoods in the region, with 89% of households eating fish or seafood weekly and 30% of households participating in fishing. Ministers reflected with deep concern on the results that signalled a decline in the status of key indicator invertebrate and finfish species, and reef and ecosystem health, which have direct impacts on livelihoods and food security, and called for the strengthening of coastal fisheries management.

Moving from coastal fisheries to climate change issues, Ministers considered where the fisheries sector can incorporate climate change mitigation and adaptation into policies and plans, with a view to securing climate change financing to support such measures, where possible.  Ministers called for an advocacy strategy to enhance high level messaging at the UNFCCC and related meetings to advance measures to address the impacts of climate change on fisheries in the region.

In discussions relating to marine pollution, Ministers supported improvements in Pacific port waste reception facilities to enable them to receive fishing vessel waste on shore rather than have it dumped at sea. Ministers expressed concern about the impact of abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear, especially on coastal fisheries and coral reefs, and called for collaborative action to address this issue.

Ministers welcomed progress on the development of the 2050 strategy for the Blue Pacific continent being led by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

Secretary Marion Henry, as Chair of the inaugural Regional Fisheries Ministers Meeting, stressed that “the meeting marked a new chapter of strengthening regional cooperation, solidarity and friendship especially in these unprecedented times where the region has been greatly affected by the impacts of COVID-19”.

Pohnpei Office of the Public Auditor

apipa 2021 2The Association of Pacific Islands Public Auditors (APIPA) has completed its 31st annual conference. This is the first virtual conference due to lockdown brought by COVID-19 pandemic. The conferences which was held in virtual setting ran from August 3 to 14, 2020. The APIPA conference provided the auditors for four

(4) hours a day of learning for a total of forty (40) continuing professional education credits (CPE). The virtual conference is an innovative approach by the US Graduate School to provide meaningful conference even in the midst of the pandemic. There were over eight hundred (800) participants registered in this annual conference; 12% from private sectors and 88% from the government sectors of Guam, US Virgin Island, Palau, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Island (CNMI), Republic of Marshall Island, Fiji, Samoa and American Samoa, and Federated States of Micronesia (Yap, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk). This year’s annual conference was chair and virtually hosted by the CNMI Public Auditors. There were fourteen (14) instructors in this year’s annual conference.

The virtual conference was graced by welcoming remarks by Honorable Douglas Domenech, Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs, US Department of Interior and key note speaker, Honorable Mark Lee Greenblatt, Inspector General, US Department of Interior.

Due to limited bandwidth, auditors from Office of the National Public Auditors (ONPA) and Pohnpei Office of the Public Auditor (POPA) joined for the opening plenary session at the Central Building at Palikir. Breakout sessions were held at the central building and at the conference room of ONPA.

Some of the most striking lessons that auditors from ONPA and POPA shared was from Honorable Greenblatt r: “Treat the organizations and our job as our own, not like we are just renting it.” And from Honorable Domenech: “Despite the challenges of the pandemic brought to the world, accountability does not have boarders, no distance or time can separate public auditors from doing what is right”.

Auditors from the Federated States of Micronesia adapted to the “new normal” and were able to learn despite the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. A commitment not only because of the auditing standards requirements but also because of their commitment to enhance their knowledge and skills to better serve the public.

Leaders are committed to Micronesia’s candidate

Micronesia Regional Joint Press Release

August 28, 2020

In September 2019, Micronesian Leaders unanimously submitted the subregion’s candidate for the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) Secretary General (SG) post, reaffirming again this decision in June 2020. Leaders of Micronesia remain united and resolute in their decision to endorse the incumbent RMI Ambassador to the U.S, H.E. Gerald Zackios, for the esteemed post.

The unprecedented global Covid crisis rests on top of an already challenging array of regional development and security challenges.  More than ever, the Pacific needs a Secretary General who is a careful listener, well-versed in foreign policy, and who will build on important efforts to shape regionalism with pragmatic management strategies. In this regard, Micronesia Leaders are confident in Ambassador Zackios, who has proven himself to be a strong, empathetic, and conscientious leader with impeccable credentials, and with vast experience in the Pacific who will work closely with Forum Leaders and other stakeholders to guide and lead the work of the PIFS.

Current Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, Tuvalu, initiated the recruitment process in mid April, calling for nominations to be submitted before June 19, 2020. Immediately after the nominations were opened, the Micronesian Leaders conveyed their mutual nomination of H.E. Gerald Zackios.

On 18th June, just a day before the deadline for nominations were to be closed, Forum Chair Tuvalu recommended that the decision be delayed until the next Forum Leaders’ meeting, to discuss the matter in person. Tuvalu also recommended that the Forum consider extending current Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor’s term or appointing the Deputy Secretary General, Dr. Filimon Manoni as Acting Secretary General until the proposed face-to-face meeting of the Forum Leaders in 2021.   The Chair further informed the Leaders of his decision to extend the previously prescribed deadline for submission of nominations subsequently allowing for nominations of additional candidates. 

In a joint letter to the PIF Chair, Micronesian Leaders acknowledged the recommendations however strongly objected to any efforts to delay the decision and the extension of the original deadline for nomination beyond June 19th, 2020. At the Leaders’ Retreat in Palau in 2014, when the region was selecting the new Secretary General then, Micronesia lost out because their candidate came in late. The decision of Micronesian Leaders to put forth a candidate early on in the process, in fact, in February 2019, was to avoid compromising the integrity of the selection process. This demonstrates that Micronesian Leaders have been thinking about this for the last 3 years. Other PIF sub-regions have contributed to the Forum’s important legacy in building regionalism, and it is rightful and timely that the Micronesian subregion should participate accordingly without unnecessary delay. “There is no valid reason why Forum Leaders cannot address and resolve the selection of the Secretary General during the Virtual Forum Leaders retreat this year,” said the Leaders.

As incoming Chair for the MPS, Nauru contends that the “Gentlemen's Agreement” surpasses meaningless foreign ideals but is rather based on our Pasifika values that are rooted in our customs and cultures of honouring the very essence of our traditions. Therefore,  based on this, it is Micronesia's turn. Micronesia has only ever led the PIF once since its inception, and by denying Micronesia of its turn to lead and contribute to building regionalism at this level of this esteemed institution, we chip away at the soul of our cultural and customary upbringing; and so to this end, this Forum must uphold the Gentlemen's Agreement.

Micronesian leaders seek the Forum Chair’s response to the joint letter and strongly advise that the June 19th 2020 deadline be reinstated and the appointment of the Secretary General be decided during the Leaders Virtual Retreat this year. It is timely for the region to have a Micronesian candidate to ensure solidarity and balanced perspective from our region. The Micronesian Leaders strongly feel the solidarity and integrity of the PIF is strengthened by the Gentlemen's Agreement and should not be ignored.

FSM--The islands of the Federated States of Micronesia have so far been protected from COVID-19 thanks to quick government action. However, the risk of COVID-19 will remain until an effective vaccine is developed and available globally. Until then, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) will work with government partners to further strengthen their capacity to prevent, detect and respond to an outbreak of COVID-19.

As part of the assistance to FSM, IOM will be carrying out a project called “COVID-19 Response: Strengthening Preparedness across the North Pacific”. The project is funded by the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), formerly known as the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), and will last from August 2020 to February 2021. The project will not target just FSM, but also the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and the Republic of Palau, for a total of $1,246,566.

With this funding, IOM will work with the State Risk Communication and Community Engagement sub-committees in each of the States to produce and translate posters. The posters will outline protection measures that you and your family can take to keep yourselves safe. IOM will also donate a large-format printer to Yap State Public Health to increase their capacity to carry out RCCE activities.

IOM will use this funding to purchase emergency assets, like temporary warehouse structures and/or medical tents. These can be used for the storage of goods and equipment or serve as a temporary medical facility. IOM will coordinate with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Department of Health and Social Affairs, State Health Services and BHA to donate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and health supplies for frontline workers. IOM will also procure and distribute household WASH kits to families to help encourage good hygiene practices.

Finally, IOM will support the newly established Protection Cluster headed by the FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs in their efforts to ensure that the country’s most vulnerable persons are prioritized throughout preparedness and response efforts. IOM will also work with the Pohnpei Women’s Council to increase their capacity to function as a safe space for women and girls.

The project’s focus on raising awareness, increasing preparedness and strengthening protection for victims of violence are part of IOM and BHA’s efforts to help prepare FSM for COVID-19. We look forward to working with our government and community partners over the coming months to help keep everyone safe.

For more information about our activities, please contact us at +691 320-8735, or the Program Manager Mr. Ryan McVey at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

September 6, 2020

CarolineFSM—Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the travel restrictions that came along with it, fisheries observers have not been allowed to board vessels to perform the function they once did.  Before the pandemic, all purse seiner vessels in Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) waters in the Pacific Ocean were required to have an official fisheries observer aboard to record catches.

Many people have assumed that the role of fisheries observers was strictly to ensure that fishing vessel operators played by the rules.  But the observers also played an important role in providing data to scientists on fish migration patterns and stock levels. The data they recorded helped organizations like the SPC which employs over 60 scientists to prepare analyses that are fed to organizations such as FFA, PNA, and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in order to make important decisions on fisheries limits.

With observers no longer boarding purse seiner, scientists would have lost an important source of data in analyzing fish population trends.  Additionally, fisheries observers would have been out of a job.

In late June, fisheries observers in the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands were the first group of observers to receive online training as port samplers.  Caroline Sanchez, SPC’s Senior Fisheries Scientist said that the training was successful and that because of it, not only will fisheries observers have alternative work arrangements, SPC and others will continue to receive vital data.

Fisheries observers are now collecting data from long line fishing vessels who transship at home ports. They will look for and document tagged fish, species caught, and their sizes and weights.  While the plan will not necessarily help with fisheries enforcement, other methods of monitoring for that are in place including the vessel monitoring system.

Despite the pandemic, SPC is continuing its online fisheries observers training in other Pacific Island countries with the hopes of maintaining an ongoing flow of vital scientific fisheries information.

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On August 21st, 2020, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—signed a Presidential Order establishing a National Task Force for guiding all activities related to the planning and implementation of the Blue Prosperity Micronesia program. This Task Force, which includes representatives from the National and State Governments, will help guide the other founding members of Blue Prosperity Micronesia and partner organizations to advance the program goals in a manner that represents the needs and desires of the FSM’s citizens. Goals include the development of strategies for sustainable economic wellbeing and resilience, identification of opportunities to improve fisheries management, and advancing ocean protection to build upon the FSM’s already impressive efforts.

“Despite the challenges presented to our Nation by the COVID-19 Pandemic,” President Panuelo said in a statement, “the FSM National Government and the Panuelo-George administration remain committed to protecting our natural environment. The Blue Prosperity Micronesia Task Force shall help to ensure that these commitments bear fruit, and that this Paradise in Our Backyards is as pristine and productive for generations tomorrow as it is today.”

Over the next five years, Blue Prosperity Micronesia’s work will include the development of a Marine Spatial Plan and a Blue Economy Plan, the conducting of scientific assessments, ocean use and stakeholder consultations, and the creation of proposed legislation for the FSM Congress’ review. This work will build upon existing FSM conservation and sustainable development commitments and goals to effectively manage at least 30% of the Nation’s waters and plan for a prosperous future.

The Task Force will be comprised by high-level officials from several departments, such as the Department of Resources & Development; the Department of Environment, Climate Change, and Emergency Management; the Department of Foreign Affairs; the Department of Finance & Administration; the Department of Justice; the Office of National Archives, Culture and Historic Preservation; and the National Oceanic Resource Management Authority. It will also include a representative from each of the FSM States, selected by its Governor. The Task Force will have its first convening session later this month, one year from the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the FSM, the Waitt Institute, Micronesia Conservation Trust, and National Geographic Pristine Seas, which formally launched the program.

This Task Force will also be supported by the Blue Prosperity Micronesia Coordinator, a newly created position which will serve as the on-the-ground staff in support of strategic planning and logistical implementation to help advance sustainable ocean efforts in the FSM. The Coordinator is set to begin his/her duties on October 1st, 2020.

The Presidential Order on the establishment of the Blue Prosperity Micronesia Task Force may be seen here: https://gov.fm/files/Presidential%20Orders/PRESIDENTIAL_ORDER_-

_TF_for_the_BP_Micronesia_1.pdf

FSM Information Services

 

rgrgPALIKIR, Pohnpei—On September 3rd, 2020, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—sent a letter to the Honorable Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan. The purpose of the letter was to express appreciation to the Prime Minister for strengthening the FSM-Japan Kizuna (special bond), particularly in light of the Prime Minister’s public notice of resignation due to health concerns. The President’s letter can be found here: https://gov.fm/files/September_3_2020_PM_Abe_letter.pdf

“Although this news brings a sense of loss in knowing that a great leader is resigning, it is a decision that must have been difficult to make and is made in the interest of your government, your people, and your good self,” President Panuelo wrote in his letter. “As the longest serving Prime Minister in the history of Japan, I want to take this opportunity to commend your efforts and accomplishments during your long tenure for your government and people, especially during this challenging time.”

After sending the letter, President Panuelo made the following public statement addressed to the Prime Minister: “My dear friend,” President Panuelo said, “The people of Japan share a Kizuna with the people of Micronesia, and you personally have demonstrated that special bond to myself and the First Lady.”

“I understand that you will be resigning in part for your health. While I am not a doctor, my father was—and I believe it is appropriately sound medical advice to suggest that there is nothing better for your health and wellbeing than to visit the Federated States of Micronesia and experience our island hospitality. When COVID-19 passes, you are welcome to join me in a SCUBA diving tour in either Chuuk, Pohnpei, Yap, and/or Kosrae as my personal guest. We can celebrate your retirement in a way that continues to strengthen the FSM-Japan Kizuna while promoting our nations’ mutual commitments towards good environmental stewardship.”

“I was hesitant to say all this in a formal Government communication, because sometimes those can be so official,” President Panuelo continued. “I think it’s best if I simply say this from my heart: you’re an exemplary public servant who has steered Japan towards prosperity, and who has shown incredible kindness not only to me, but also to former Presidents Peter M. Christian and Manny Mori, our delegations and staff. We are all so grateful to you and to the people of Japan for

everything you’ve done to promote peace, friendship, cooperation, and love in our common humanity. Your development projects in our Nation, from the expansion of ports to the building of gymnasiums, to road paving and the donation of field trip vessels, to teaching mathematics in our schools and film festivals showing your culture, are only a few examples of your esteemed service to our Nation and people. The very least we can do in return is to give you the retirement trip of a lifetime.”

“Whatever happens next, my friend, thanks in large part due to your service, the People and Government of Micronesia will always see Japan as an incredibly special friend, ally, and development partner. The next time we shake hands, I hope it’s right before we’re about to explore the best diving spots in the World right here in the FSM.”

FSM Information Services

 

fgPALIKIR, Pohnpei—On September 2nd, 2020, the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) hosted a ceremony wherein His Excellency Huang Zheng, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China (China), donated twenty-eight thousand dollars ($28,000) to Nan Madol en Ihmw Inc. to support the Replanting of Food Crops in Madolenihmw, Pohnpei, FSM Project.

FSM citizens may recall that during the State Visit to China by His Excellency David W. Panuelo in December, 2019, that amongst the conversations between President Panuelo and President Xi, as well as amongst the Members of the Delegation (including the Honorable Esmond B. Moses, Vice Speaker of the 21st FSM Congress), food security initiatives were discussed in detail. An example of such a food security project is the coconut farm in Pohnpei State, which is presently 1.33 hectares in size with 150 yellow dwarf coconuts, 150 red dwarf coconuts, and 150 green dwarf coconuts planted as of December 2019.

In a diplomatic note on behalf of China to the FSM dated August 11th, 2020, the Chinese Embassy wrote: “We Chinese always attach importance to the food security of developing countries, including the FSM, and [we stand] ready to offer relief and assistance should any emergency or concerning situation occur due to climate change, epidemics, or any other natural disaster. In this spirit and  upon conscientious review, the Embassy is pleased to inform the [FSM] Department [of Foreign Affairs] that a USD 28,000 donation has been approved to fund the [“Replanting of Stable Food Crops in Madolenihmw, Pohnpei, FSM”] Project.”

Although he was not present in the ceremony due to attending to other matters of national import, President Panuelo later said in a statement: “During the time of this COVID-19 Pandemic, it is increasingly clear

HONIARA, 3rd September 2020 – A fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance operation in the Pacific concludes this week, with excellent cooperation demonstrated between nations despite the challenges of COVID-19 continuing to affect surveillance in the region.

The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) led Operation Island Chief took place from 24 August to 4 September, conducting surveillance over the EEZs of all FFA Members.  This year the operation included Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu, after their Operation Tui Moana was postponed in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Especially during these challenging times with the focus of the world on the pandemic, we welcome and sincerely thank our Members and partners for their commitment and cooperation demonstrated across the region to deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in our waters,” says FFA Director-General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen.  “The strong collaboration between the FFA, our Members, and national security partners has achieved positive surveillance results during this operation.”

FFA Director of Fisheries Operations, Mr Allan Rahari, added “We are particularly delighted to see the way Cook Islands worked with Niue to conduct cooperative surveillance of both EEZs under the Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement (NTSA). The NTSA provides the legal framework for exchange of fisheries data and information, as well as procedures for cooperation in monitoring, prosecuting and penalising operators of IUU fishing vessels.  This is the first time that the Niue Treaty Information System (NTIS) has been used to record these arrangements during a surveillance operation.”

Pacific QUAD partners, Australia, New Zealand, France and the United States, provided support through aerial surveillance alongside the FFA Aerial Surveillance Programme aircraft, further enhancing the maritime surveillance coverage during the operation.

The FFA Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre (RFSC) team, supported by three officers from the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF), had an increased focus on intelligence gathering and analysis,

Office of the Chuuk State Public Auditor

The Office of the Chuuk State Public Auditor (OCPA) announces the release of an Inspection and Evaluation of Petty Cash Fund, which covered the fiscal year 2017 to 2020. Reports may be made available by request to any interested individual at the OCPA in Nantaku, Weno, Chuuk.

The Public Auditor’s authority is based on the Chuuk State Constitution Article VIII Section 9 and Truk State Law 6-21 which states in part:

“The Auditor shall conduct audits of all financial transactions of all branches, departments, offices, agencies, and instrumentalities of the government, and of all accounts kept by or for them.”

We conducted this inspection in accordance with the 2011 US Quality Standards for Inspection and Evaluation issued by Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.

The  objective  of  this  audit  included  determining the adequacy of controls on petty cash fund.

The results of the audit disclosed that the Treasury had implemented  inadequate  controls  to protect the Petty Cash Fund. Specifically, our inspection and evaluation have disclosed the following weaknesses:

  1. Inadequate Written Procedures Could Potentially Lead to Misuse, Abuse and Misappropriation of Funds Without Timely Detection
  2. Non-compliances of payments with the Existing Written Control Procedures
  3. Absence of Periodic Surprise Cash Count and Periodic Checking Could Result in Discrepancies and Missing Funds not Detected Timely

The audit recommendations, if implemented, will strengthen the internal controls on Petty Cash Fund to prevent the risks of fraud, abuse and misuse of the petty cash funds.

The Department of Administrative Services submitted a Management Response, which was in agreement to the findings. We  included such response in the final report.

Office of the Assistant Secretary

Insular and International Affairs

 

WASHINGTON – The Trump Administration announced $70,198 in fiscal year 2020 grant funding provided through the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs’ (OIA) Technical Assistance Program (TAP) to support an East-West Center initiative to highlight the Pacific Islands and the relationship between the Pacific Islands and the United States.

“This is a timely venture with the East-West Center here in Washington, D.C., as the Office of Insular Affairs works with other federal partners to support the U.S. territories and the freely associated states,” said Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech. “The East-West Center’s initiative will highlight the importance of the U.S.-affiliated insular areas to American national security as well as President Trump’s Indo-Pacific Strategy’s focus on a free and open Pacific. The publication will be posted online and shared with members of Congress and federal policy makers in Washington whose work can have a lasting impact on the island areas.”

“The East West Center is excited to create and utilize this new resource to support the work of government, private sector, and civil society stakeholders in United States-Pacific Islands relations. This will be a unique, usable tool as part of the Asia Matters for America initiative that highlights U.S. relations with the Indo-Pacific at the national, state, and local levels,” said Satu Limaye, Vice President of the EWC and Director of the Asia Matters for America initiative.

  • • The East-West Center in Washington, D.C., has been awarded $70,198 in fiscal year 2020 Technical Assistance Program grant funding that will be used to research and create a new publication titled, “Pacific Islands Matter for America/America Matters for the Pacific Islands.” Following the format of the East-West Center’s Asia Matters for America series, the East-West Center proposal aims to print and post online Pacific Islands Matter for America for members of Congress and federal officials in Washington, D.C., early in the year 2021. The East-West Center plans to work closely with the newly created Congressional Pacific Islands Caucus in the House of Representatives and other important stakeholders to develop this brochure.

The OIA Technical Assistance Program is made available each year by Congress to support priorities in support of the U.S. territories and the freely associated states. For more information on grant assistance provided through OIA, please visit: https://www.doi.gov/oia/financial-assistance.

The Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, @ASIIADomenech, and the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Follow and “like” OIA on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/InsularAffairs.

27 August 2020

njSuva, Fiji – The Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership) programme has launched a poetry anthology publication comprising a collection of Pacific poems and artworks about human rights and social justice suitable for students in Years 7-13.

The publication titled Rising Tide has been produced as part of the Pacific Partnership’s Social Citizenship Education (SCE) Programme led by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT).

Working towards implementing human rights work in schools and communities, SPC RRRT, with the support of The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture, and Pacific Studies (OCACPS), embarked on this project with editor, Dr Francis Mangubhai, a notable Fiji-born educator and researcher in applied linguistics to collate this poetry anthology which will be used as a teaching and learning resource for schools students and young people in the Pacific.

Acknowledging how changes occur in our Pacific communities like everywhere else in the world, the anthology is titled Rising Tide, due to climate change which is a social justice issue and a topic in which Pacific communities lead the world. It is also an expression that is used metaphorically – there is a rising tide of change occurring in our societies, including changes related to equality, inclusion, and ending violence against women. Young people who will be the next generation of adults, can, through their attitudes, values and voices, contribute to this rising tide of change.

Speaking at the launch of the anthology, the Head of Political, Trade and Information at the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific, Galia Agisheva said, ‘Human rights and social justice are the core values of the European Union, which is founded on engagement to promote and protect human rights, democracy and rule of law. The EU views all human rights as universal, indivisible and interdependent.

As such, we are delighted to be able to collaborate with SPC RRRT, UN Women and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIFS)  to support the anthology Rising Tide.  This collection of the Pacific poems, will undoubtedly generate inspiration for the young generation for which it is aimed. This young generation is the rising tide of the Pacific, can become the true fundamental agents of change of attitudes - in their lives, in their families, in their communities, in their countries, and also globally’’.

According to RRRT Director, Miles Young, the ‘Rising Tide’ is an essential, evocative and unique anthology featuring Pacific poets and artists expressing their voice on social justice issues that exist in our Pacific societies.

“The poems in this book challenge us to think and take action on issues pertinent to the Pacific and globally such as inequalities, discrimination, injustices and violence against women, girls and children,” Young said.

He added that through this creative interplay of art, words and rhythm, it is hoped that Pacific children, who are the present and future of the region will be inspired to rise like the tide and create and model change that will make Pacific communities, just, safer and more peaceful.

USP’s Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia said the University was proud to have partnered with SPC RRRT in the publishing of this anthology of Pacific Poetry on human rights and social justice through engagement of the Oceania Centre.

“This collaboration is significant not just as an example of CROP collaboration but also given the long history of Pacific Publications through the Institute of Pacific Studies, now Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies,” Professor Pal said.

He added that the collaboration is a reminder of the importance of arts and culture, and pacific-led and home grown arts and recognition of artists. This is something that the University has committed to, not just through the Oceania Centre but also through the School of Languages, Arts and Media’s Pacific Writing Forum which has encouraged emerging Pacific island writers through publication, readings and SLAMS.

“I believe that there are discussions for the collection to be made available through the USP Book Centre and I am very pleased to hear that an exhibition of the same title “Rising Tides” will continue over the next week at the Oceania Centre, featuring the artworks in the collection and select poems,” Professor Pal stated.

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On August 25th, 2020, His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), signed a Decree setting the National Standards on Social Distancing Measures during the COVID-19 Pandemic Public Health Emergency. This release will describe the details of the Decree, but the summary is that without a case of COVID-19 social distancing is encouraged (not mandated), and if/when the Nation becomes a COVID-19 country social distancing and other measures will be strictly enforced. The Decree may be found here: http://gov.fm/files/August_25_Decree_on_Social_Distancing_Measures_during_COVID- 19_1.pdf

The Social Distancing Decree was requested by the 21st FSM Congress on May 30th, 2020. After consultations between the FSM COVID-19 Task Force and the Task Forces of the States of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae, the Decree advises that—prior to a case of COVID-19 in the FSM— every person is strongly encouraged to practice Social Distancing at all times in public, by maintaining a space of at least six feet between persons. Individual FSM States may require stricter social distancing guidelines and procedures, and such guidelines shall be respected within the State.

Prior to a case of COVID-19 in the FSM, gatherings such as marriages, funerals, and other inherent cultural practices may be permitted under State regulation and advisories.

In the event that the FSM has a confirmed case of COVID-19, multiple measures will become compulsory in the affected State and/or island, in the interest of protecting the health and safety of the general public. These include:

  1. Cloth face coverings or facemasks are required of every person when in a public place—and individuals who are sick or who have flu-like symptoms are required to wear facemasks at all times.
  2. Everyone must stay at home unless it is essential to leave the house for legitimate reasons, such as if their place of employment is deemed essential per the FSM COVID-19 Guidelines. Families should limit trips outside of the home for groceries, utilities, and health services.
  3. Strict enforcement of physical distancing of no less than six feet between individuals in all public settings.
  4. Large meetings and gatherings of more than twenty (20) or more people, except for health workers and law enforcement officials and services, are prohibited.
  5. All non-essential services and activities are immediately suspended, such as organized sports activities, beauty parlors, barbershops, bars, and nightclubs.
  6. All taxi services shall be restricted by limiting the number of hours of operation and reducing passenger capacity; the FSM COVID-19 Task Force shall establish the details of the restrictions.
  7. An island or state in the FSM with a confirmed case shall be placed under a total lockdown, i.e. no entry/exit of people with the exception of essential workers (i.e. health workers and law enforcement), and urgent medical or Vienna Convention-related travel.

Until a lockdown is required, State Government authorities will continue to provide guidance with respect to essential services, including the burial of human remains within the State.

Any person who violates the Social Distancing Measures under the Decree may be convicted of a National offense under Title 11 of the FSM Code, Section 803. This may result in a penalty of not more than five years of imprisonment and/or up to $5,000 (five thousand dollars) in fines.

“My fellow Micronesians,” President Panuelo said in a statement, “By implementing this Decree and by updating our FSM COVID-19 Guidelines, our Nation has taken another step in preparing itself for our COVID-19 adaptation, mitigation, and repatriation efforts. I have no doubt that some of you will consider the mandates to be extreme, maybe even draconian—but I would emphasize to you all that the goal is not to punish anyone or limit liberties, but to keep our citizens safe. We have every intention of preventing COVID-19’s entrance into the FSM. If we continue to focus on developing airtight repatriation measures, then we’ll never get to the point where the bulk of this Decree has to be implemented.”

“That said,” the President continued, “We’ve been so fortunate to be COVID-19 free so far that we cannot afford to become complacent. The dangers it poses to our Nation and its communities is no less severe now than it was before. Following the Decree promotes not only your own safety as an individual, but the safety of your family, your neighbors, and our entire Nation.”

As of August 25th, 2020, the FSM remains COVID-19 free.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

September 2, 2020

Pohnpei—On September 1, after a lengthy delay between the issuance of arrest warrants in mid-August, State Police officers arrested 9 of 12 people charged with various crimes in connection with an attempt to export 1763.7 pounds of dried sea cucumbers allegedly illegally harvested in Pohnpei waters.

The people accused of the crimes are presumed to be innocent unless they are found to be otherwise in fair court proceedings which have not yet begun.

On July 10, Associate Justice Robert Nakasone approved a search and seizure warrant authorizing State Police to seize the container that had been at the FSCO dock awaiting export to Hong Kong. On August 13, Pohnpei State prosecutors filed three sets of criminal charges against two Chinese nationals and 10 citizens of Pohnpei.  The Court issued arrest warrants for all 12 shortly after the charges were filed.

Police investigators decided to delay making the arrests pending the outcome of their applications for additional search and seizure warrants. They waited over two weeks for a ruling from the Court on those applications and finally decided that they must proceed with the arrests without a ruling on the search warrants.  While they were making the arrests, the court granted the additional search and seizure warrants.

On Tuesday police officers arrested XIE Cuntao of Young Sun International to answer for 42 criminal charges. LI Xiangyang of Young Sun was also named in those charges but police could not make that arrest

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On August 10th, 2020, His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), signed an emergency regulation (which is also proposed to become a permanent regulation) on the applicable guidelines on hazardous pay, as appropriated in Section 9(12)(H) of Public Law No. 21-42. FSM healthcare and foreign service personnel who are working in a jurisdiction with a confirmed case of COVID-19 may be entitled to additional compensation inclusive of twenty five percent (25%) on top of their base pay.

                The emergency regulation applies specifically to the COVID-19 hazard pay funded by the 21st FSM Congress and inserts “Subpart 8.8A Hazard pay on COVID-19” into the Public Service System Regulations. It defines hazardous work as “occupation or work assignment that involves unusual and extreme hazards to health and safety” in a country, state, or territory with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

                Eligible employees are considered healthcare workers and foreign service personnel, including officials and contractors. Oher employees may be designated in subsequent regulations. Those eligible to receive hazardous pay would be entitled to receive an additional 25% on top of their base pay.

                “This regulation accomplishes two purposes,” President Panuelo said in a statement. “The first is that it recognizes the exemplary performance of our foreign service officers who are operating in COVID-19 environments whilst serving our citizens with the financial support they need to make the Pandemic more bearable. For too long our foreign service officers have been sacrificing their health and safety for the good of the Nation, and this regulation—charitably funded by the astute leadership of the 21st FSM Congress—provides for them.”

                “The second piece of this regulation ensures that, if the FSM receives a case of COVID-19, our Nation’s frontline healthcare, border protection, immigration, police, maritime surveillance, customs, and quarantine workers will be eligible to receive hazardous pay.”

                The emergency regulations can be seen here: http://gov.fm/files/Hazardous_Pay_Regulation_August_10_2020.pdf

                As of August 10th, 2020, the FSM remains COVID-19 free.

20 August 2020

Suva, Fiji – The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and the Pacific Community (SPC) have made a joint submission to the Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into the human rights of women and girls in the Pacific.  The submission offers recommendations on how the Australian government may support Pacific Island countries to respond more effectively to domestic, family and sexual violence, and other human rights issues such as gender equality.

The submission was informed by PIFS’s and SPC’s engagement with the Australian government’s aid program in the Pacific, as well as survey responses from Pacific governments and civil society organisations.

“Sustainable development and true progress for all Pacific people continues to be hampered by the high prevalence of violence against women and girls.   The epidemic of violence within families has been deepened by COVID-19 disruption due to confinement and other restrictions, so the timing of this  Parliamentary Inquiry also provides an opportunity for our nations to refocus urgent efforts to ensure homes are truly valued by all families, as the safest place to be.” said Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor.

“The Pacific Islands Forum envisions a region of peace, social inclusion, and prosperity, the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and one Blue Pacific continent.  To achieve this, we need to break the cycle of violence and as one Blue Pacific continent remain committed and resolute to eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.  We must do better to empower our women and girls from diverse Pacific backgrounds to realize their capacity, grow their confidence and recognize their human rights.”

SPC's Director-General, Dr. Stuart Minchin, said “We still have work to do when it comes to improving the lives of women and girls in the Pacific. This inquiry by the Australian Parliament provides an opportunity to examine the impact of our efforts to reduce domestic, family and sexual violence, and to see how we can better focus on human rights issues such as gender equality.”

Dr. Minchin thanked PIFS for collaborating with SPC on this joint submission and the Australian government for its commitment to improving the lives of women and girls in the Pacific, and looked forward to the outcome and recommendations of the Inquiry.

SPC’s contribution to this submission was co-authored by SPC’s human rights division, the Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) and its Social Development Programme (SDP).

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei— The 21st Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) began its Seventh Special Session on August 17th, 2020. After the opening session, His Excellency David W. Panuelo and the Honorable Yosiwo P. George received the Committee to Wait, chaired by the Honorable Esmond B. Moses, with committee member the Honorable Ferny S. Perman, to discuss their agenda for this session of Congress. The Committee to Wait on the President discussed COVID-19 repatriation efforts, amending Tourism Sector Mitigation Funding to support additional categories of businesses, nominations for various offices (e.g. the FSM Office of Personnel and the FSM Trust Fund Board), a supplemental budget request in support of the COVID-19 Response Framework, and expanding Pandemic Unemployment Assistance programming to non-citizens of the FSM.

The meeting began regarding COVID-19 adaptation, mitigation, and repatriation efforts. After the President described the results of the simulation exercises throughout the Nation, Senator Perman, Chairman of the Congressional Committee on Health & Social Affairs, asked: “How come we didn’t do the [Republic of] Palau model of how they brought and repatriated their citizens? In the Palau model, they put people in a hotel, quarantined them, tested them twice, and brought them back to Palau for additional quarantine and tests.”

The Honorable Livingston A. Taulung, Secretary of the Department of Health & Social Affairs and Chair of the FSM COVID-19 Task Force, said: “We are moving in that direction. We recently found that the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI) model showed that people  would get tested negative and then, once they were repatriated, show up as positive for the virus. So this reinforced our movement towards a model that learns from the experiences of the CNMI and Palau, and would uniquely serve the equally unique needs of the FSM and its citizens. We are aiming for a fourteen-day Pre-Quarantine in Guam with two tests, followed by arrival and onsite  Quarantine for fourteen days and additional tests.”

The bulk of the Executive Branch’s supplemental budget requests—approximately $1,700,000 (1.7 million dollars)—is COVID-19 related, the bulk of which is regarding setting up Pre-Quarantine processes in Guam. This includes funding for potentially chartering a flight via an international commercial carrier.

“To add to what the Secretary of Health mentioned,” began the Honorable Eugene Amor, Secretary of the Department of Finance & Administration and Vice Chair of the FSM COVID-19 Task Force, “We are looking at two options for hotel quarantine sites in Guam and contracts are on their way.

The same with the medical facility that will help with daily monitoring of our citizens that will be repatriated, including tests at day seven (7) and eleven (11). We’re looking at targeting medical referrals first.”

The FSM COVID-19 Task Force has prepared a second report on the COVID-19 Response Framework, dated August 17th 2020, including this information, the results of simulation exercises, and all other

Pacific Community (SPC)

 

14 August 2020

Noumea (New Caledonia) - Despite the significant challenges presented by COVID-19, the Pacific Community (SPC) 7-week research expedition to monitor the health of world’s largest tuna fishery will depart from Honolulu on Saturday 15 August 2020.

Half of the world's tuna catch comes from the Western & Central Pacific, providing a critical source of protein and export revenue for Pacific Island Nations.

With most research and fisheries observer programmes currently suspended due to COVID-19, Graham Pilling, the SPC Deputy Director for the Oceanic Fisheries Programme, said the importance of this cruise cannot be overstated.

"These tuna fisheries are worth approximately USD6 billion annually and, along with tourism, are the main income for most Pacific Island Nations. With global tourism effectively shutdown due to COVID-19, the income derived from tuna is even more critical for Pacific economies," he said.

To avoid any potential for COVID-19 transmission to the remote communities of the Pacific the cruise will not make any port calls to Pacific Island Nations. The crew members, including the scientific team, are in isolation for 14 days prior to departure and have undergone COVID-19 virus testing. The vessel will then return directly to Honolulu on October 5, 2020 - 50 days after departure.

The expedition will only sample from the tropical waters of the high seas and the vast Kiribati Exclusive Economic Zone. The cruise will also provide the first opportunity to collect data on tuna sustainability from the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, which was established in 2008.

From 2006 to 2019, SPC has tagged 452,489 tuna and 81,402 tags have been retrieved, generating the most comprehensive data set for tuna management in the world. In addition to monitoring the health of the tuna stocks, Dr Simon Nicol, SPC Principle Fisheries Scientist said the electronic tags inserted into the tuna are also being used to monitor the health of the Pacific Ocean.

Dr Stuart Minchin, the Director-General of the Pacific Community, said this continued research is critical to ensure that the region remains a global leader in sustainable use of its fisheries resources.

"Around 70% of the catch is taken by international fleets and the fees generated by these licenses provides major source of revenue for Pacific governments to support their development goals. The tagging of bigeye and yellowfin tuna in this region is critical for researchers to understand the impacts of the fisheries on these species," he said.

According to SPC’s 2019 Tuna assessment report, four key tuna stocks of yellowfin, big eye, skipjack, albacore are in a healthy state in the Western Central Pacific Ocean region.

At about 10 months (303 days to be exact), one tuna tag has been recovered around Pohnpei territorial water. FSM NORMA wishes to recognize a nice tuna tag recovery by a Pohnpei local fisherman, namely Gretorio Hallens, on the 6th of July 2020. Mr. Hallens applied the bottom fishing method while fished at 1 nautical mile away from the reef and caught this yellowfin. Recovered at 91 cm measured by NORMA fisheries officer. The fish was released at 10 miles south of Kitti Municipality and 20 miles east of Ant Atoll. The yellowfin was 47 cm when released at these coordinates, 06.36N and 15815.555E, respectively, on the 8th of September 2019 as part of the Pacific Tuna Tagging Programme (PTTP). All biological samples were collected. A great result!

About the Pacific Tuna Tagging Programme (PTTP)

The Pacific Tuna Tagging Programme (PTTP) is a joint research project, implemented by the Oceanic Fisheries Programme (OFP) of the Pacific Community (SPC).  The goal of the Pacific Tuna Tagging Programme is to improve stock assessment and management of skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tuna in the Pacific Ocean. Visit the SPC Pacific Tuna Tagging website: https://tagging.spc.int/

About the biological samples

It consists of collecting up several tissues on specimens (mostly fish) caught during observer trips, tuna tagging cruises or scientific trips. It is essential that these samples are collected properly in different regions and at different times. These samples can be as diverse and then used to run analysis:

  • • Stomach to describe diet composition
  • • Muscle, liver and blood used as natural tags (Isotope) and to analyse contaminants
  • • Gonad used for reproduction biology studies
  • • Otolith to estimate age and growth of fish
  • • Spine used for age validation
  • • Visit the website to learn more about the Pacific Marine Specimen Tissue Bank https://www.spc.int/ofp/PacificSpecimenBank/Home/About

About the tag reward 

If, by chance, you encounter a yellow or white tag on a tuna (skipjack and yellowfin), please contact NORMA (320-2768/2700) and SPC (320-7523) directly.  You will be rewarded on the condition of the tuna and tag in helping with collection of biological samples. 

Embassy of the

United States of America Kolonia

Ambassador Cantor made her first traditional leader courtesy call to His Majesty Kerpert Hebel Wasa Lapalap Isipahu, Nahnmarki of Madolenihmw (King of Madolenihmw, Pohnpei) and Her Majesty Rihna Hebel, Likend of Madolenihmw. The Nahnmarki gave Ambassador Cantor the traditional title of Nahnei En Isipahu Madolenihmw. This is the first traditional title any U.S. Ambassador has received from Madolenihmw municipality. During the visit, Ambassador Cantor announced that the U.S. Government, through the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) awarded a $200,000 grant to the Cultural Site for Research Management, in partnership with FSM Historic Preservation. The funding will assist in the preservation of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Nan Madol, and develop a plan for the Nan Madol Visitor Center scheduled to open in 2021. The Nan Madol Visitor Center is currently under construction with funding primarily from the Embassy of Japan; the U.S. funding will complement the efforts of the Japanese government. Ambassador Cantor is scheduled to meet with other traditional leaders in the future.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

August 20, 2020

IMG 6424Pohnpei—In the blazing heat of the August 20 afternoon, dignitaries and interested others gathered at the site of the new Kahmar River bridge, which was entirely funded by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

The Kahmar Bridge is 56 meters long (~184 feet) and 10 meters wide (~33 feet), and represents approximately $3,200,000 (3.2 million dollars) of assistance. Originally signed in a Technical and Economic Cooperation Agreement in 2015, construction began on the Bridge on June 26th, 2019. While formal completion of the Bridge had occurred some months ago, the official opening ceremony was delayed due to requirements for proper vetting and inspection, which occurred electronically due to the unique situation imposed by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“China and FSM share a long history of friendly exchanges. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, the Chinese government attaches great importance to China-FSM relations, and the bilateral relationships have developed rapidly,” said Ambassador Huang Zheng, China’s Ambassador to the FSM during his lengthy speech. “China is willing to work together with FSM to build the Belt and Road into a road that is able to promote cooperation, safeguard health, recover economy and promote sustainable growth.” Huang reiterated that "China and FSM will work together to create a brighter future for Belt and Road cooperation and to build a community with a shared future for humanity together.

“This bridge will become a symbol of our healthy Great Friendship between our two peoples,” Vice President George said in his statement. “This bridge will not only connect our Governments and improve access to the inlands of Nett, but will also contribute to the economic and social development of Nett, Pohnpei more broadly, and the Great Friendship between the FSM and China.”

Lt. Governor Feliciano Perman represented the Pohnpei State government and also thanked the government of China for the bridge, which he said would not only serve the nearby villages but contribute to the economic development and transportation needs of Pohnpei as a whole.

Ambassador Huang presented a portrait of the bridge to Vice President George who then presented it to Lt. Govenor Perman, who in turn handed it over to Nelsin Iriarte, Administrator of the Nett Municipal Government as a symbolic turning over of the bridge itself.

Iso Nahnken of Nett Salvador Iriarte gave the last words of the lengthy ceremony. 

When the ceremony itself was completed, the ribbon was cut as brightly colored confetti floated down onto the participants.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

August 20, 2020

Pohnpei—Today, representatives of The Church of the Latter Day Saints presented a donation of wheel chairs and walkers to staff members of the Special Education Program of Pohnpei.

Francisco Simram, Stake Presidency First Counselor gave remarks and presented the three pallets of supplies to the Special Education Program.

A representative from the Special Education Program said that while the Program had received donations of supplies for the program, this was the first time that he could remember that a church had made such a donation.

The wheel chairs and walkers will be used for students who need them throughout Pohnpei.

Graduate Student Recipient:

Srue H. Wakuk

Kosrae High School

University of Hawai‘i at Manoa

Master of Public Health, 1st Year

Undergraduate Student Recipient:

Pearlnalin Rilan Anien

Marshall Islands High School

University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

Bachelor of Science (Biology); 3rd Year 

The Dr. Joakim Peter Memorial Scholarship founders and committee members are pleased to announce the first two recipients of the scholarship. Each of them will receive a $1,500 scholarship and be part of the A+JOJO Scholars Program to receive leadership development and mentoring support.

(Full bios, visit: http://www.ajojoscholars.org/scholars/)

BACKGROUND ON DR. JOAKIM “JOJO” PETER

The A+JOJO Memorial Scholarship Fund is named in honor of the late Joakim “Jojo” Peter, PhD (Education), who was an extraordinary friend, educator, scholar, organizer, and Micronesian community leader.  “Jojo was not only a champion of his Chuukese, Micronesian, and Oceania communities, he was a champion for civil rights and human dignity in Hawai‘i and beyond.  Jojo’s impact reaches from his home atoll of Ettal in Chuuk State, FSM to his later homes in Guam and Hawai‘i, to across the Pacific and the continental United States,” shared his friend and “sister” Innocenta Sound-Kikku, a Community Navigator at Kokua Kalihi Valley health center. 

(For more biographical information: http://www.ajojoscholars.org/dr-joakim-peter/ )

THE A+JOJO SCHOLARS PROGRAM

The A+JOJO Scholars program was initiated by a group of Jojo’s friends to continue his legacy of supporting young Micronesian students and future scholars.  Fellow Chuukese educator, colleague and longtime

Habele

AkiyokoyiNetwork 2Amid social distancing concerns and teachers trapped off-island by travel restrictions, a small charter school in Chuuk has a new tool for educating students. Akoyikoyi School serves low-income students on the island of Weno, and has been doing it tuition free since 2011. Thanks to a partnership with Habele Outer Island Education Fund and the Office of Insular Affairs, staff and students at Akoyikoyi School will be able to access one of the most advanced, far-reaching wireless networks on island.

As with many island schools, educational internet usage at Akoyikoyi has been limited by insufficient networking tools. Accessing educational content online, or streaming remote instruction from teachers off-island, remained a challenge beyond the capacity of the school’s network. Working with local IT experts at iSolutions Micronesia, Habele was able to provide an enterprise-level wireless network that covers the campus, and even some surrounding areas.

“Students packed in a small room for remote instruction doesn’t help with social distancing,” says Neil Mellen, Habele’s founder. “Students and staff need to be able to access educational content, even while spread out across the campus. This network will make that possible in a way they could not have imagined before.”

In a school year shaped by uncertainty, a far reaching network will allow staff and students to participate in remote learning, even under the strictest social distancing measures.

The coming school year will present new obstacles for FSM schools, as for schools the world over. Habele remains committed to working with dynamic partner schools like Akoyikoyi in finding innovative, actionable ways of serving students from remote island communities in the days ahead.

“As we wait word from Chuuk DOE and FSM DOE regarding the opening of schools in Chuuk, we are looking for ways to use technology at Akoyikoyi,” says Clark Graham of Akoyikoyi School. “Habele’s contribution, along with iSolutions, provides us badly needed expertise, for which we are most grateful.”

Established by former Peace Corps volunteers, Habele is a US-based nonprofit, advancing educational access and accomplishment across Micronesia.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

August 14, 2020

IMG 6268Pohnpei—This evening United States Ambassador Carmen Cantor hosted a “Lessons in Leadership” panel discussion and reception for youth organizations in Pohnpei.

Ambassador Cantor served as the moderator for the panel discussion. Panelists were Pohnpei State Senator Sendilihna Lekka, FSM Secretary for the Department of Finance, Micronesia Conservation Trust Executive Director Willy Kostka, and Micronesia Legal Services Corporation Directing Attorney Danally Daniel.

Ambassador Cantor had prepared questions for the leaders to help guide the discussion.  Her first asked them to define the qualities of an effective leader. Some of the answers given were revealing of the leaders themselves and were difficult for them to answer but all had good responses for their definition of effective leaders. 

Ambassador Cantor asked them what their most difficult leadership was and what happened as a result of that decision.  That was a particularly difficult question for them to answer as it was specific to their organizations and though all of them answered most couched their answers in a way that would not specifically identify a specific and identifiable situation.  However, Senator Lekka said that her most difficult decision was the decision on whether or not to run the risk to run for office as a woman.  She said that she had to overcome a mentality from some of the voters that men were best suited for office. “Why send us to school then?” she asked them. She said that her running for office and winning resulted in a big change in the thinking in Nukuoro.

As the evening progressed, time for answering questions was limited and so Ambassador Cantor did not require an answer from each panelist for each remaining question.  Someone from the audience asked for

Habele

IMG 0285 2Beginning this school year, children born in Yap are eligible to receive a new, age appropriate book every month, from birth through age five.

That's the goal of Habele’s "Young Island Readers," a program to support early childhood literacy through direct donations of book. It's made possible by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL), a community-based program providing children with free, home-delivered books from birth to their 5th birthday.

By age five, each Young Island Reader will have a personal library of sixty five books.

“Access to books at home correlates highly with childrens’ reading scores once they enter primary school,” says Neil Mellen, Habele’s Founder. “Having good books in reach helps grow a child’s love for learning. Their imaginations come alive as parents and caregivers read to them.”

Habele is the local champion for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) in Micronesia. Established by former Peace Corps Volunteers, Habele has served Micronesian students through book donations, scholarships and robotics training since 2006. Habele first proposed “Young Island Readers” to community members and educators on Yap shortly after the departure of Peace Corps volunteers from the FSM in 2018.

Volunteers serving in the education sector had been creating and maintaining school-based libraries, the primary source of books for young children on Yap. With the end of Peace Corps’ support for libraries, local educators reached out to Habele for new ways to foster early childhood literacy.

Young Island Readers will work with local partners to help fill this void. Local student volunteers from Yap Catholic High School will be actively enrolling and updating new participants monthly.

“I believe Young Island Readers is a powerful tool for increasing literacy among children here on Yap, “ says Michael Weincek, Principal of Yap Catholic High School. “A love of learning starts years before a child enters the classroom.”

The FSM Postal Office will ensure all books get to their intended recipients, even when addressed “care of” distant family members.

About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library:

Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has become the preeminent early childhood book gifting program in the world. The flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation has mailed well over 100 million free books in Australia, Canada, The Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom and the United States. The Imagination Library mails more than 1.4 million high-quality, age-appropriate books each month to registered children from birth to age five. Dolly envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading, inspiring them to dream. The impact of the program has been widely researched and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. For more information, please visit imaginationlibrary.com.

By: Island PRIDE & Chuuk Youth Council

IMG 5492 2On August 14th, in a historic event, the young people of Chuuk took over the Chuuk State Legislature’s House of Representatives Chambers, conducting their own mock session and passing their own Resolution speaking out against domestic violence. The takeover event was part of a 3 day celebration of International Youth Day organized by Island PRIDE (Promoting Resilience through Involvement, Development & Education) and the Chuuk Youth Council, which also featured a track & field day and Youth Leadership Conference on Aug. 12-13.

Culminating the celebrations was the Youth Takeover Legislature day where the following youth representatives ranging from ages 15- 23, and comprising of 9 males and 13 females, elected their own officers and representing their own districts were: 

James Joseph (Floor Leader), Northern Namoneas

Givanleine Sana Suka (Vice Speaker), Upper Mwortlocks

Emerald Siren Hashiguchi (Speaker), Nomwisofo

Mahealani Mori, Northern Namoneas

Melorisa Mori, Northern Namoneas

JR Daytec, Northern Namoneas

Daniel Nakayama, Nothern Namoneas

Stelynn Kichiro, Southern Namoneas

Fredrick Francis, Southern Namoneas

Kilani Stinnett, Southern Namoneas

Melmarie Cheney Walliby, Southern Namoneas

Siniann Joseph, Southern Namoneas

Kiva Meno, Southern Namoneas

Jay Kaminanga, Nomwisofo

Martha Miochy Aten, PPO

Jetry Nifew, PPO

Memory Jayme Rudolph, Upper Mwortlocks

Milly-ika Lady Olyne Mori, Mid Mwortlocks

Arthur Irons III, Lower Mwortlocks

Kymo Roby, Lower Mwortlocks

Gayla Jamila Bisalen, Paatiw, Northwest

Gio Nedelec, Halls, Northwest

For their day in these seats, these young men and women chose to use this platform as a call to action on domestic violence, resulting in the unanimous passing of Resolution C.Y.L.A.R. NO. 01 with its heading

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

August 22, 2020

Pohnpei—On August 13, Pohnpei State filed criminal charges against 12 people in connection with a seized container of dried sea cucumbers that had been bound for Hong Kong.  The container was seized after Associate Justice Robert Nakasone issued a warrant on July 10.

Since then, no arrests have yet been made though the court approved 12 arrest warrants early last week in connection with the charges.

Governor Reed Oliver contracted attorney Marstella Jack as a special prosecutor on the matter. She says that the criminal information contains 42 counts of violations that are criminal in nature but would not share any further details.

The court also did not release the criminal information document after more than a week of contacting them on a daily basis.  More developments will be forthcoming.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

August 22, 2020

 MG 9967117548444 1240670842938199 7420059991336333607 oMadolenihmw, Pohnpei—On Sunday, August 16, 2020, Pohnpeians were saddened to learn that Isipahu, Nahnmwahrki en Wein Madolenihmw Kerpert Hebel had passed away. 

His brother Herbert Hebel immediately became Isipahu.

His Majesty Kerpert Hebel, of the Depinpahnmei clan had been Wasahi (the next in line for the throne) in 1990 when then Isipahu Salter Salvador Hadley passed away and was the first Nahnmwahrki to have declined the throne, instead passing it to his uncle, Ilton Shelten,. After declining the position he maintained the title of Wasahi. When his uncle passed away, he became Isipahu. He said at that time that he was the Nahnmwahrki to Serve and maintained that philosophy and leadership style until his rule ended.

Kerpert Hebel was born in Wone, Kitti on December 30, 1949.  He attended Elementary School at Christ the King School in Kitti, and Our Lady of Mercy Elementary School in Kolonia.  He attended High School at Pohnpei Agricultural and Trade School in Madolenihmw, where he was extremely active in sports, particularly track and field and volleyball.  He worked at the coconut processing factory owned by Kadalino Sam.  He later worked with the Talent Search Program through the College of Micronesia FSM as the Culture and tradition adviser.

In 2010, Kerpert Hebel travelled for his first time as Isipahu of Madolenihmw. He and a delegation consisting of the Nanmwahrkis of Sokehs, Pingelap, and Kitti traveled to Palau for the 4th Pacific Traditional Leader’s Conference, an association of the traditional leaders of the Micronesian Islands.

Later that year he traveled to Guam and met with the temporary leaders of the organization, which included the Ibedul of Palau who was the Temporary Chair, the Iroij Lapalap Kota Loek of the Republic of Marshall Islands who was the Temporary Treasurer, and the Bruno of Yap State who was the Temporary Secretary of the fledgling organization. Isipahu was the Temporary Vice Chair.  During that meeting the temporary officers passed the bylaws of the Pacific Traditional Leader’s Conference and were chartered in Guam, which is a US corporate charter.  Isipahu and all of the temporary officers became the officers of the newly chartered organization.  Isipahu maintained the position of Vice Chairman of the organization throughout the remainder of his reign.

Early on in his reign, Pohnpei’s traditional leaders elected him as the Chair of Mwoalen Wahu Ileile en wein Pohnpei (Traditional Leadership Council of Pohnpei State).

Kerpert Hebel was outspoken on many issues on behalf of the people of Pohnpei. He spoke strongly against the establishment of a hotel and casino in Pohnpei. He banned the use of betelnut at traditional

By Cindy Huang

What do you think of when it comes to summer programs? Do you think of monotonous textbook reading in hot weather? Or maybe you’re thinking about summer choices on the other end of the spectrum; choices packed with thrills and sightseeing?

I believe a balanced summer experience not only enriches the intellectual mind but also shapes strong character and builds a critical mindset. When I searched, the internet provided me many options for how I could spend my summer, but one particular program hosted by Yale University (United States) caught my attention: “...founded on the tenets of liberal arts, renowned for its diverse and inclusive community...,” the website said. As I dug through Yale Young Global Scholars’s (YYGS) website, new thoughts of an ideal summer started to form in my mind. I decided to apply, and give myself a chance to spend this summer with professors and faculty with world-class knowledge while engaging myself in a once-in-a-lifetime community of high school students representing over 130 countries.

Knowing that YYGS goes through a selective admission process, it was intimidating to set my mind on applying. Though my high school grade point average and teacher recommendations were required parts of the application process, it seemed to me that the highlights were the personal essays and short questions.  They got my creative juices flowing. Having now been through the program, I believe YYGS was looking for what I believed to be uniquely me. Every one of us has a story, a background, an identity. Every person encounters diversity and seeks belonging. We look for improvement in academic and social skills and take YYGS as a stepping stone, hoping to feel the pride of calling ourselves a YYGSer, but we also understand that we must make our contributions in cultivating a booming community. Having such realizations were crucial for me during and after my application process, and they continue to serve as life lessons for me whenever I encounter new people and new ideas.

This year, due to reasons I need not reiterate, YYGS could not host its traditional two-week program on the Yale campus in New Haven, Connecticut as it has previously done. Instead, virtual lectures and meetings connected us. Through Zoom, each day I found myself having multiple educational and eye opening experiences.  Perhaps I would talk about Islamic philosophy with my instructor, or take an interview with a friend from YYGS’s media team. I would type out my notes and thoughts on an online discussion forum, and also have amazing video sessions with students from Beijing, New York, Vancouver, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ecuador, Romania, or India. Having Micronesia added to the list bought a new level of diversity to Yale’s program. A shared determination from students who were determined to pursue better education and from faculty who were committed to increasing education access shone brightly despite an unprecedented pandemic, earning the direct support of Yale’s President Peter Salovey.

From lectures and seminars, where knowledge grew; to breakout sessions, where different minds clashed and sparked enlightenment, we discussed everything under the sun with utmost passion. Our instructors pushed us to explore the impact of coronaviruses on animals, and to reflect on wildlife trade and contact in modern society. We discovered great Islamic thinkers of the 12th century like Avicenna and Ghazali. We

Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

 

001 FFCmin17HONIARA, 8th August 2020 – Fisheries Ministers from member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) have expressed serious concern about the unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on their domestic economies.  Their comments came during the 17th FFC Ministers meeting, which concluded yesterday.

In his opening remarks, the Honourable Kandhi Eleisiar, Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Federated State of Micronesia (FSM) and FFCMIN17 Chair, emphasised “tuna as our only natural resource and the breadwinner of our national economies. Therefore, understanding its impact and how we may adapt [and] minimise the impact [COVID] may have on us is important.”

Commending Pacific Leaders for swift action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the region, Ministers have expressed strengthened commitments to regional solidarity and collaboration as central to confronting the impacts of the pandemic in the Pacific. They have also emphasised the importance of protecting the fisheries sector, given its important economic and food security benefits. 

FFA Director General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, in her opening comments, spoke of the "adaptability and resilience" of Members in the face of COVID-19, noting that "More than ever, our cooperation is needed to see us through this unprecedented challenge."

Measures to address the impact of the pandemic

Ministers asked FFA to undertake a regional study on how Members can harness their comparative advantage with respect to regional tuna resources and maximise the benefits flowing from strengthened cooperation in areas such as processing, value-adding, cross-border investment, increased regional trade, improved transportation links, and improved labour mobility. 

With disruptions to airfreight impacting the export of fresh fish outside the region, Ministers welcomed the work being undertaken by FFA to explore market opportunities within the region.

The Ministers also commended the measures taken by the FFA and officials to mitigate health risks posed by the pandemic, including development of health-related safety protocols for crew members, observers and others interacting with fishing vessels.  These protocols will minimise the risk of contracting or spreading the disease and enable fishing operations to continue safely. 

Work by the FFA Secretariat to improve observer safety and maintain observer livelihoods by using their analytical fisheries knowledge and skills on-shore was welcomed by the Ministers.

IUU fishing

The pandemic has resulted in an increased risk of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, due to the limitations on the use of human observers and port inspections. 

Ministers highlighted the increased importance of FFA’s integrated Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) framework during these times, including the satellite vessel monitoring system, vessel of interest information and the overall regional surveillance picture, as well as the aerial surveillance programme managed by FFA on behalf of Members.

Climate change

While the impact of the pandemic was front of mind for Ministers, they emphasised the importance of not losing sight of biggest threat to the region – that of climate change. 

Ministers encouraged FFA to continue to prioritise work looking at the impacts of climate change on tuna fisheries and ensuring the region can adapt to the challenges this will bring.

In this regard, Ministers called for closer collaboration among regional organisations to respond to the specific needs of the region and to ensure that fisheries issues are firmly placed onto the wider climate change agenda, including in the context of the Pacific’s engagement in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

At the conclusion of the meeting, FFA Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen expressed appreciation “for the continued support and trust that Members place in the Secretariat as we continue to facilitate stronger regional cooperation, adaptability, caution and resilience in fisheries.”

The 17th Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) Ministerial meeting, was attended by Ministers representing Australia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa and Solomon Islands.  Cook Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu were represented at senior official level.

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

 

30 July 2020

MANILA, PHILIPPINES— The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is highlighting the critical need to support health and social protection systems in the Pacific region, according to the latest issue of the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Pacific Economic Monitor (PEM) launched today.

                “While much of the Pacific remains free from COVID-19, the recent rise of cases in Papua New Guinea (PNG) shows that building capacity and strengthening health systems are integral parts of COVID-19 preparedness,” said ADB Director General for the Pacific Leah Gutierrez.

                The latest issue of the PEM, the flagship economic publication of ADB’s Pacific Department, highlights country issues and explores policy themes centered on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

                On average, the economies of ADB’s 14 Pacific developing members are forecast to contract by 4.3% in 2020 as COVID-19 impacts tourism and trade. The projected growth rate in 2021 of 1.6% will rely on the reopening of international borders and the subsequent resumption of tourism, labor, and trade activity.

                The PEM says COVID-19 has had a far greater impact on the economy than on the health sector. ADB’s latest assessments suggest the effects of lockdowns and travel bans have been particularly severe on the region’s tourism-dependent economies, with some facing double-digit declines in gross domestic product in 2020.

                The PEM provides updates on the potential short-term impacts of COVID-19 on poverty levels in the Pacific. Although decisive actions have largely prevented the virus from entering their countries, the Pacific’s priority now is to kickstart economic activity and ensure protection for the poor and vulnerable. Ongoing economic stimulus packages are a step in the right direction, but sound and timely execution of these plans will be key to the recovery, according to the report.

                The PEM’s policy briefs examine the broader implications of the COVID-19 crisis on other critical issues including food security, waste management, and disaster response. It also examines the virus’ potential long-term effects on Pacific health systems and the pandemic’s poverty impacts, in which the number of those living in extreme poverty in the region could increase by more than 1 million—a 40% jump relative to pre-COVID-19 levels. There is also a brief examining how PNG is pursuing fiscal reforms amid the economic downturn.

                The PEM is a bi-annual review of economic developments and policy issues in ADB’s 14 developing member countries in the Pacific and includes policy briefs on key policy issues and interests. In combination with the Asian Development Outlook series, ADB provides quarterly reports on economic trends and policy developments in the Pacific. The PEM welcomes contributions of policy briefs from external authors and institutions.

                ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

Ambassador Carmen G. Cantor speaks on FSM’s efforts against Human Trafficking

This is a historic year for the U.S. Government and the U.S. Department of State as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report).

When the United States Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) in 2000, one of its requirements was the creation of a report that would represent the U.S. government’s dedication to fight human trafficking on a global scale and serve to increase

the number of governments actively prosecuting traffickers, protecting victims, and preventing human trafficking crimes.

From its inception, at a time when many governments denied the existence of human trafficking in all its forms, the TIP Report has become the standard-bearer for the principles enshrined in the TVPA and the 2000 UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol. Over the last 20 years, the TIP Report has successfully reinforced global anti-trafficking norms and ideals. It has drawn attention to trends and emerging issues, highlighted promising practices, and tracked the progression of important developments, such as the passage of comprehensive anti-trafficking laws and improvements in victim identification efforts.

On June 25, U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo released the 2020 TIP Report. The Report documents the government efforts of 188 countries and territories, including the United States, to combat human trafficking. Though the methodology, content, and design of the TIP Report have evolved, reflecting the broader anti-trafficking movement’s progress in understanding the crime, the messages at the heart of each edition have been steadfast: there is no excuse for human trafficking, and governments must take bold action to end it.

The need for a global response has never been greater as the COVID-19 pandemic reinforces the urgency to protect vulnerable people from exploitation by traffickers.

The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is making significant efforts to fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continues to demonstrate overall increasing efforts to include funding an anti-trafficking training for law enforcement officials and providing $120,000 for trafficking victim services. The government

also established an Anti-Human Trafficking Division within the Department of Justice, with a full-time assistant attorney general to prosecute human trafficking cases and investigators in the states of Chuuk and Kosrae. Furthermore, the FSM Department of Justice continues to collaborate with the respective FSM States in their efforts to identify, address, and prosecute human trafficking cases. The FSM Department of Justice continues to provide training for law enforcement officials, judges, lawyers, health providers, faith-based organizations, and youth and women’s groups, at the state and national level. However, there is more work that needs to continue taking place to implement national and state-level action plans, and meet minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

Over the last two decades, the U.S. Government, through the U.S. Department of State, along with host governments, including the FSM, NGOs, multilateral organizations, survivors, faith communities, and other advocates have been unrelenting in the pursuit of a world free from human trafficking. We acknowledge our achievements and steel ourselves for the battle ahead and the work yet to be done.

Thank you,

Carmen G. Cantor

United States Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia

Public interactive portal to help increase understanding and transparency of carrier vessels and their activities.

The Pew Charitable Trusts and Global Fishing Watch

 

Washington, D.C. — Global Fishing Watch launched a public web portal today that policymakers and fishery managers can use to better understand the activities of vessels that take on catch from commercial fishing vessels and deliver it to ports worldwide for processing. The Pew Charitable Trusts lent its expertise in fisheries to the development of the portal to guide its effectiveness and application.

The transfer of catch to carrier vessels, called transshipment, is a vital part of the global fishing industry. But it often takes place on the high seas, outside the view and reach of authorities, making it harder for them to verify that the amount and type of fish product transferred is lawful and sustainable.

The portal, hosted on Global Fishing Watch’s platform, will show users the breadth of transshipment activity worldwide to raise awareness among fish suppliers and consumers and improve the transparency of this practice.

“We are combining data from various sources and applying machine learning techniques in order to shine a light on what has, historically, been an opaque practice,” said Tony Long, CEO of Global Fishing Watch. “The public portal makes transshipment data easily accessible and will help bring much-needed transparency to global transshipment activities.”

Current monitoring and regulatory controls over transshipments at sea are inadequate, as there are few guarantees that all transfers are being reported and observed. This interactive, first-of-its-kind portal uses satellite technology, machine learning, and up-to-date vessel authorization databases to give users consolidated information on carrier vessels’ activities, allowing them to analyze vessel tracks and see which ports the vessels frequent. By using the portal, fishery managers can improve how they monitor and regulate this vital part of the seafood supply chain, helping to ensure the long-term sustainability of the fisheries they oversee.

“This portal will enable managers to verify transshipment activities, helping to reduce opportunities for unauthorized transfers of fish product and identify when such activity is not being adequately reported,” said Amanda Nickson, director of Pew’s international fisheries work.

The carrier vessel portal can give policymakers attending meetings of the five regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) a better understanding of transshipment activities in their respective waters. These RFMOs—which, combined, are responsible for managing fisheries in more than 90% of the world’s ocean—are the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna, and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

With the portal, they can easily cross-check publicly available information with vessel monitoring system data and the national and observer reports they already receive.

“It’s time to change the way transshipment is managed,” said Nickson. “We hope this portal will give policymakers the additional information they need to reform this practice.”

For further information:

Kimberly Vosburgh, Senior Manager Global Fishing Watch  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Micronesia Conservation Trust

 

July 29th 2020

The Micronesia Conservation Trust, based in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia has been announced as the new fiscal host of the Global Island Partnership - a global partnership working to connect island leaders on conservation, sustainable livelihoods and sustainability.  Islands are on the frontline of climate change and are serving as laboratories for innovation and leading on developing solutions that can be scaled globally.

The Global Island Partnership was founded by the Presidents of Palau and Seychelles and now has four island leaders who lead the partnership - Palau, Seychelles, Grenada and the British VIrgin islands as well as 45 members and hundreds of islands, island entities and organisations across the world who work on conservation, sustainable livelihoods and sustainability.

It is expected this new partnership between MCT and GLISPA will help to share bright spots, lessons and networks that benefit island people in Micronesia and across the world.

Incorporated in the Federated States of Micronesia in 2002, the Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT) supports biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation and related sustainable development for the people of Micronesia including: the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the US Territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. MCT’s vision and mission statements read:  Vision -  Enduring partnerships that conserve our land and sea to improve quality of life for communities across Micronesia.  Mission -  We build partnerships, raise and manage funds, make grants, influence policy, and provide conservation and financing expertise.

Honorable Minister of Finance, Palau and  Chairman of the Board for Micronesia Conservation Trust  Elbuchel Sadang: "Small island states have been at the forefront of conservation policy and financing and the successes of the Micronesia Conservation Trust  and Global Island Partnership continue to stand as testaments of the smal lisland commitment to sustainability. Bringing these two exceptional entities together is a major milestone in conservation management, and will amplify the call for sustainability across the Pacific and the globe.  The MCT is proud to host GLISPA and looks forward to creating new opportunities and fostering new innovation to further Small Island State initiatives into the future."

Ambassador Hersey Kyota, Palau Ambassador to the US, GLISPA Board Chair: “I would like to thank Micronesia Conservation Trust for agreeing to host GLISPA.  It is a great opportunity to work together and we look forward to a great working relationship.”

Kate Brown, Executive Director of the Global Island Partnership:”We are very happy that MCT will be our new host. We have had an interim host in the US based organisation Island Conservation for whom we are very grateful.  Now in working with MCT we expect to strengthen the ability of GLISPA to undertake our important work and expect this relationship to also be beneficial to the Pacific and across the islands of the world.

Willy Kostka, Executive Director of Micronesia Conservation Trust: “We are extremely honored to be hosting GLISPA on behalf of island nations and nations with islands across the globe. It is fitting to bring GLISPA to the Pacific Islands because GLISPA is about working on island solutions that contribute to our global quest to building a better world for our island communities. Some of these island solutions, like the Micronesia Challenge initiative, have leveraged other national, regional and global initiatives like the Caribbean Challenge, the Coral Triangle Initiative, the Aloha+Challenge and so on. We are proud to be part of the GLISPA family.”

Australian Government

Department of Defence

20200802 122021.t5f278155.m1200.xqOiZzHp0j6oz43VNHMAS Canberra and its embarked aviation assets assisted in locating the three-person crew of a skiff that had been missing for nearly three days in Micronesia.

The men were found on August 2 in good condition on tiny Pikelot Island, 190km west of where they had set off in their seven-metre vessel on July 30.

Their SOS message outlined on a beach was spotted from the air by Australian and US aircraft during the search.

The ADF had been asked for search-and-rescue support by the Rescue and Coordination Centre in Guam on the afternoon of August 1.

Canberra is part of Task Group 635.3 conducting a Regional Presence Deployment.

Canberra was returning to Australia while the rest of the task group continued on its way to participate in Exercise Rim of the Pacific off Hawaii.

The ship sailed overnight to reach the search area, and in cooperation with US aircraft operating out of Guam, located the men on the island.

Crew of 1st Aviation Regiment in an Army armed reconnaissance helicopter landed on the beach, delivered food and water, and confirmed the men’s identities and performed health checks.

Canberra's Commanding Officer Captain Terry Morrison said the response by the ship’s company to the operation was outstanding.

“The ship’s company responded to the call and had the ship quickly prepared to support the search and rescue,” Captain Morrison said.

“In particular, our embarked MRH90 helicopter from No. 808 Squadron and the four armed reconnaissance helicopters from 1st Aviation Regiment were instrumental in the morning search that helped locate the men and deliver supplies and confirm their welfare.

“I am proud of the response and professionalism of all on board as we fulfil our obligation to contribute to the safety of life at sea wherever we are in the world.”

The missing vessel and crew were reportedly sailing from Pulawat to Pulap atolls, a 23-nautical-mile journey, when they sailed off course and ran out of fuel.

FSS Independance arrived on the scene late on 03 August and took over duties from HMAS Canberra. The crew from Independence launched their small boat and proceeded to the island to collect the three men as well as recover their skiff. With the three embarked safely and their skiff under tow Independance returned the men to their anxious families on  Pulap Island.

Youths take lead in COVID-19 awareness efforts

Zubnah Khan

03 August 2020

FSM 01 0Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia– There were three houses up on the hill, with another six to eight houses on another hill from these three houses that needed to be reached. With pouring rain that blanketed a single muddy and slippery path uphill, Micronesia Red Cross Society youth volunteers embarked on their journey to reach locals in remote communities with COVID-19 preparedness information.

“We were trying our best not to slip while we walked to reach people living in Kitti. We went back to the station dripping wet and sogged in mud after a whole day of information sharing in this area and about four days to finish the whole community,” says 17-year-old Gorinna Booth.

Even though the global pandemic, COVID-19, has not reached this small Micronesian country, its effects could be felt by more than 100,000 locals, including more than 40,000 children, who reside on the islands. Many people in these remote areas were still not aware of how to prepare for and prevent the spread of this deadly disease.

UNICEF partnered with the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Micronesia Red Cross Society for a house-to-house campaign to engage children and other locals on COVID-19 awareness. A total of 60 youth volunteers were trained on prevention and hygiene promotion for this four-month campaign.

While Gorinna remembered the past couple of months, another youth volunteer highlighted taking a boat to reach a community called Pakin which took two hours from mainland Pohnpei to reach 19 households with about 100 people.

18-year-old Donevaun Esiel, or Donny as he likes to be called, got off the boat to see three communities on the island. There was a mix of traditional and modern huts with many children playing, running around or swimming as schools were closed.

Donny, third from right, demonstrates how to properly wash hands with soap and water to communities, including children, during the campaign.

The people in Pakin have a tradition to rub coconut oil on visitor’s arms and welcome them with coconut drink before they embark the island.

“This was my first time to visit this remote island. It was a sunny, hot day and at first, they did not want to listen to our awareness sessions, some were even nervous to see new faces, but as they learnt new

Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

 

5th August 2020

HONIARA – The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) has successfully sanctioned the regional Port State Measure (PSM) framework at its 114th meeting held in June.

According to the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, “this marks a significant milestone in the Agency’s efforts to strengthen and enhance port-based activities in relation to addressing Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in the territories of its 17 member states.”

These efforts are also reflective of the FFA’s Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Strategy (RMCSS) 2018-2023 which highlights PSM as “one useful MCS tool in the larger MCS toolbox available to members in the fight against IUU fishing.” 

Mr. Edward Honiwala, Director of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) highlighted that, “the adoption of the regional PSM framework provides the opportunity to strengthen the country’s National Port State controls, establish mechanisms that would facilitate our obligations under the WCPFC CMM on Port State Measures, and ensures that our Port State Controls are compatible with other international arrangements.”

The FFA Regional PSM Framework provides key elements, processes and responses necessary to facilitate targeted and effective PSM across the region. It provides guidance to FFA Members in developing minimum PSM standards to be applied at the national level, promoting inter-agency cooperation and coordination, and improving data and information exchange. The scope of the framework applies to all fishing vessels; therefore, members may apply these provisions to their national vessels at their own discretion.

The nature of fishing in the WCPO is multi-jurisdictional and multi-national and therefore requires internal and external networks to effectively manage any issues, such as illegal fishing and transnational crime. If implemented effectively, PSM can prevent IUU-caught fish from entering into national and international markets, and provides the foundation for further work in the area of catch certification and Catch Documentation Scheme (CDS).

The FFA Secretariat’s PSM work is supported through a five-year investment from the New Zealand Government which commenced in 2017 under the Pacific Islands Port State Measures (PIPSM) project.

Over the course of 2019, the regional PSM framework was developed by the FFA members. It underwent amendments and was tabled at four technical and governance meetings until it was officially adopted at the FFC114 in June 2020.

The Secretariat has commenced work on a prototype for an e-PSM tool which digitises and automates PSM processes in line with the regional PSM framework. In addition, discussions have kick started with members that have identified national PSM priorities for support. 

For more information contact Ronald F. Toito’ona, FFA Media, ph: +677 7304715, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Below is a diagrammatic representation of the FFA Regional PSM Framework.

FSM Information Services

 

jnjnPALIKIR, Pohnpei—On July 24th, 2020, the Honorable Livingston A. Taulung, Secretary of the Department of Health & Social Affairs and Chair of the Federated States of Micronesia’s (FSM’s) COVID-19 Task Force, and the Honorable Ricky F. Cantero, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, received His Excellency Huang Zheng, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China (China), who handed-over an additional ten (10) boxes of personal protection equipment (PPE) donated to the FSM by Shandong Province. The Ambassador promised that additional COVID-19 support was en route, and that when a vaccine is available that the FSM will receive it.

“We will do everything we can to help the FSM’s people to win this global battle against this global Pandemic, which is the common enemy of humankind,” Ambassador Huang said in his remarks. “When the development and deployment of [a] vaccine is available in China, we will make it an international public good for everyone. …It will be offered as assistance to developing countries, including the FSM, who need these vaccines the most.”

“I am very pleased to hear that your Government is working very hard to make sure that a vaccine is produced and then shared with the rest of the world,” Secretary Taulung said in his remarks. “Today’s assistance from Shandong will supplement and complement what China has already provided.”

The cumulative total of COVID-19 related Chinese assistance to the FSM is approximately three hundred and twenty thousand dollars ($320,000), with $170,000 in cash donations to the FSM National Government and Pohnpei State Government and the remaining $150,000 through medical supplies. The FSM National Government is deeply appreciative of Chinese assistance in helping the Nation to prevent COVID-19’s arrival and/or mitigating its affects should it arrive.

China and the FSM have enjoyed nearly thirty-one (31) years of formal diplomatic relations. September 11th, 2020, will mark the 31st anniversary of the Great Friendship and comprehensive partnership between the FSM and China.

FSM Information Services

 

dvdvPALIKIR, Pohnpei—On July 30th, 2020, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) formally recognized and participated in the 7th annual World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. Operating on the theme “Committed to the Cause—Working on the Frontline to End Human Trafficking,” the international day emphasizes the importance of combatting the threat of human trafficking across the globe. Although the FSM prides itself as a Nation committed to extending peace, friendship, cooperation, and love in our common humanity to all peoples and nations throughout the world, the FSM National Government recognizes that one of the ways of demonstrating this commitment domestically in the States of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae is to ensure that Micronesians are safe from the use of force, fraud, coercion, and exploitation.

Following a series of speeches from the Honorable Yosiwo P. George, Vice President of the FSM, Her Excellency Carmen G. Cantor, Ambassador of the United States of America to the FSM, and Mr. Lino Amor, Assistant Secretary heading the Division of Anti-Human Trafficking in the FSM Department of Justice, the FSM National Government and Pohnpei State Government, in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy in Kolonia and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), held a fun-walk across Pohnpei’s capital of Kolonia as a visual demonstration of the Nation’s commitment against individuals and organizations practicing the trafficking of persons.

“Today, we thank the first responders who work tirelessly for this cause but whose work is often overlooked and unrecognized,” Vice President George said, emphasizing the crucial role the Division of Anti-Human Trafficking plays in its cooperation with State and Municipal police forces, the United States of America, Japan, Australia, and IOM to combat human trafficking.

“I encourage all mothers and fathers,” Vice President George continued, “to play an active and engaged role in being responsible for their children, being very careful to guide their children in making the right choices, and being physically, emotionally, and mentally present in their children’s lives. Collaboration and cooperation between Government, families, communities, and the civil and private sectors are key to keeping our Nation safe, and loving parents are essential to this.”

“Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud, exploitation, or coercion to obtain labor or sex from victims,” Assistant Secretary Amor said in his statements. “While the majority of victims are usually female, it can happen to anyone including men, women, boys, and girls. It is a multi-billion dollar industry world-wide and, yes, it unfortunately exists here in the FSM.”

Since 2017, the Department of Justice has prosecuted three human trafficking cases; provided immediate and long-term service to victims who were minors; hosted an anti-trafficking conference in Pohnpei with over 150 participants from all four FSM States; opened a victim shelter in the State of Chuuk; and selected a location for a similar shelter in Pohnpei. In September 2019, the Panuelo- George Administration restructured the Department of Justice to add the new Division of Anti- Human Trafficking, whose primary function is to mitigate and eliminate this threat to the FSM.

Citizens may recall the FSM’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific Strategy, which is a broad political and security strategy inclusive of the Nation’s cooperation with the United States, Japan, Australia, and other

FSM Information Services

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On August 5th, 2020, His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), responding to a request from the Honorable Henry S. Falan, Governor of the State of Yap, confirmed that the MV Micronesian Navigators will delay its regular field trip to Chuuk State to instead provide immediate assistance to citizens stranded on the MV Hapilmohol-1 (H-1), which is presently located in Woleai Atoll. The H-1, which was conducting a routine “Student Run” to escort children and families to their homes in preparation for the new academic year, has suffered from issues with its generators. The passengers on the H-1 are safe but operating the H-1 in the open ocean could potentially risk the safety of the Nation’s citizens onboard.

“After consideration of the nature of the problems with the generators,” Governor Falan said in his letter to the President, “and the possibility of total failure of both generators on its way back in open water, the ship being low on fresh water to cool the engine and serve the needs of its passengers and crews…we have no other alternative but to request for a backup vessel [to provide] urgent assistance.”

With the MV Caroline Voyager presently inoperable, the only vessel the FSM National Government has in its possession that can presently accommodate the request from Yap State is the MV Micronesian Navigators. Thus, President Panuelo has instructed the Department of Transportation, Communication & Infrastructure to postpone its regular field trip schedule to Chuuk so that it may respond to the needs of the H-1 and the Nation’s citizens onboard.

“The Micronesian Navigators is now preparing to depart Pohnpei, heading straight to Woleai, on

August 8th,” President Panuelo wrote in his response.

The expected arrival date of the Micronesian Navigators in Woleai is August 12th, 2020.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

August 7, 2020

Pohnpei—Pohnpei’s Environmental Protection Agency has shut down a dredge site in Ohwa, Madolenihmw.  According to EPA Director Henry Susaia, the EPA board issued a cease and desist order and a subpoena to the dredger. After hearings, the board issued an undisclosed fine.

Susaia said that EPA shut down the dredge site because the dredger was operating outside of the boundaries allowed by the permit and because it was operating without a berm or siltation barrier.

The dredger has paid the fine but the site remains closed to new dredging at the site.  EPA has ordered him to remove the dike that serviced the site. They must install siltation barriers while that process moves forward.

Susaia said that EPA also shut down the Lukop, Madolenihmw road improvement project for a period of time. He said that the contractors had piled up dirt on the shore line which was washing into the lagoon at that time.  Their permit had also expired. He said that the contractors have since removed the pile of dirt and guidelines have been established so that the project can continue.

“Our goal is to stop new dredging and to have dikes removed (from old dredge sites)”, Susaia said. He called the task of monitoring dredge sites one of their biggest challenges. On the one hand, aggregate is needed for the many pending and ongoing infrastructure projects. On the other, the environment, which is any and everything that surrounds us and that affects our lives, must be protected for our own survival even as we strive to make our environment better.  That is part of EPA’s mandate.

Much remains to be done.  Several dredge sites operate without siltation barriers of any kind. Though EPA has a mandate to shut down all sites that are operating without one until they are in place, they currently remain in operation.

Susaia says that so far all other dredge permits remain in place.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

August 8, 2020

Madolenihmw, Pohnpei—On July 31, Meninkeder Lapalap (Mayor) Wein Madolenihmw Petrick F. Ringlen formally submitted his resignation to Madolenihmw Council Speaker Wensner John.

In February of this year, Pohnpei prosecutors filed criminal charges against four representatives of the Madolenihmw Executive Branch for the theft of over $67,000. Each of the defendants, including the former Mayor is charged with Grand Larceny, Embezzlement, Theft by Failure to Dispose of Funds Received, Cheating, Misconduct in Public Office and Criminal Conspiracy.  All of the charges stem from unreimbursed payroll advances the representatives drew. Ringlen is accused of having taken and not reimbursed over $29,000 in advances over the course of 12 years.

The prosecution of those cases is ongoing and all of the accused are presumed to be innocent unless charges are proven in court.

According to the attorney who does legal consultation work for the Madolenihmw Government, work on articles of impeachment against the former Mayor began shortly after news of the criminal charges came out.  Recently, the council passed articles of impeachment. However, the Counsel rescinded them after accepting the former Mayor’s resignation.

According to the Madolenihmw Constitution, Speaker Wensner John will be the acting Mayor for 90 days and a new election will have to be held.

Ringlen was the Madolenihmw Meninkeder Lapalap for more than 15 years.

FSM Information Services

 

scscsaPALIKIR, Pohnpei—On August 6th, 2020, the COVID-19 Task Force of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), in partnership with the COVID-19 Task Force of the State of Pohnpei et al., conducted a simulation exercise in preparation for the eventual repatriation of FSM citizens residing in Pohnpei. Although the exercise demonstrated significant improvements from the simulation exercises in June, it was also noted that significant gaps remain. While Pohnpei State had been targeting August 8th, 2020 as a potential repatriation date for FSM citizens residing on Pohnpei, His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the FSM, after being briefed by the FSM COVID-19 Task Force, agreed with the recommendation that the State and Nation is not yet ready for repatriation at this time.

The simulation exercise demonstrated that, particularly at the Point of Entry (i.e. the airport and its surrounds) and Quarantine Site (i.e. the Emergency Medical Unit/Chinastar Hotel), substantial improvements have been made. The view of the Task Force is that the Point of Entry and Quarantine Site are each approximately ninety percent (90%) ready for repatriation efforts.

Gaps included a change in process (e.g. the airport quarantine room was used for stabilizing a Person Under Investigation) and a change in type of personal protection equipment (PPE). Personnel require additional competency in using coveralls.

The Medical Monitoring Area (MMA) at Misko Beach, which is intended to serve as both an isolation facility as well as a quarantine site, has significant infrastructural issues, including that essential equipment was not available. Of particular note is that the MMA facility is not wheelchair accessible, that there is no triage or testing site at the facility, and that the facility has insufficient staff. No medical doctors other than the Incident Commander participated in similar exercises. Of similar concern is that multiple medical personnel in Pohnpei State have allegedly resigned from their employment at precisely the time when the Nation cannot afford to lose such personnel.

Additional gaps allegedly remain in areas such as capacity-building. The Task Force informed the President that, to the knowledge of the FSM National Government, ventilators have not been used or tried, and contact tracing workshops intended for sixteen (16) participants have been postponed after only five (5) have shown up. Further, while progress has been made in acquiring sufficient testing capacity for repatriating citizens abroad, the contract for one such organization has not yet been finalized.

“There is a lot of progress made from the previous assessments, but also there are gaps,” said Dr. Eliaser Johnson, the FSM’s epidemiologist, in the Task Force’s briefing to the President. “Our overall recommendation, looking at the exercise today, is to delay the repatriation.”

“The Secretary repeats your idea of wanting to have an airtight system,” Dr. Eunyoung Ko, the World Health Organization’s Country Liaison Officer to the FSM, said in the briefing to President Panuelo. “All of our efforts, drills, investment, facility building, and simulation drills done so far have greatly improved the level of safety. However, what the assessment team saw during today’s exercise was still not meeting the expected standard, particularly due to recent changes in the protocols and processes. We will continue to assist Pohnpei State to achieve their goal of maximal safety through technical dialogues and process.”

“We cherish being COVID-19 free and we must work very hard to make sure that this remains the case,” Dr. Livingston A. Taulung, Chair of the FSM Task Force and Secretary of the Department of Health & Social Affairs said.

“For the safety of our country, I cannot make a decision to open the country unless I am highly convinced and confident that our state of readiness is airtight,” President Panuelo said.

NORMA

The National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA) and the Department of Justice (DoJ) have strengthened their relationship and adopted an improved approach to fisheries compliance for FSM. The approach seeks to achieve optimal levels of compliance through the application of risk-based, consistent and targeted compliance activities that support national efforts to promote the conservation, management and development of FSM’s fishery resources.

In November 2019, President Panuelo had the opportunity to review a draft Fisheries Compliance Strategy 2020 – 2025 and asked the DoJ and NORMA to take the necessary steps to ensure its full implementation. Last week, NORMA and the DoJ took the first of these steps and met for a three-day working session facilitated by the New Zealand funded Fisheries Compliance Adviser. The working session provided a forum for the DoJ and NORMA to engage in open and honest dialogue, adopt an improved approach to fisheries compliance and finalize the Fisheries Compliance Strategy 2020 – 2025.

Justice Secretary Joses Gallen, Sr. expressed optimism on the “close working relationship between NORMA and the DoJ. He highlighted the mandate of the two national offices to ensure the protection of the natural resources of the nation and strengthen the regulatory measures for their conservation”.

The development and implementation of the Fisheries Compliance Strategy 2020 – 2025 is an incredibly important step for FSM and will ensure the compliance activities are prioritized, risk-based and targeted. Through the Fisheries Compliance Strategy 2020 – 2025, NORMA and the DoJ will develop initiatives to encourage voluntary compliance and to ensure that effective deterrents to non-compliant behavior are established.

In adopting the FCS, NORMA and the DoJ commit to effective coordination and information exchange and to developing a compliance environment that is based on consistent, fair, transparent and legitimate principles. The DoJ and NORMA have recommitted to their role as stewards of FSM’s marine resources and to protect these resources for all of FSM’s people, now and into the future.

NORMA’s Executive Director, Eugene Pangelinan firmly believes “that the new Fisheries Compliance Strategy 2020 – 2025 will result in improved compliance by fishing vessels and greater transparency in our approach to compliance and enforcement. It is hoped that our partners will see this transformation as an invitation to invest in FSM resulting in the creation of jobs and new economic activities that will benefit both industry and the people of FSM”.

The Fisheries Compliance Strategy 2020 – 2025 will provide important guidance to develop and implement a range of national fisheries priorities including establishing FSM as a Competent Authority country to secure European Union market access, the improved implementation of port State measures, the implementation of the Administrative Penalties Regulations, the promotion of voluntary compliance and the implementation of electronic reporting and electronic monitoring.

Over the coming weeks, NORMA and the DoJ will work to finalize the Fisheries Compliance Strategy 2020 – 2025 and develop its implementation plan. The two agencies will also start work on a comprehensive review of FSM’s national fisheries law and on arrangements for an inclusive Fisheries Compliance Workshop planned for 2021.

Embassy of the

United States of America Kolonia

thThe FSM government requested the United States Coast Guard Search and Rescue assistance in Pohnpei State for a local citizen reported missing on July 11 while fishing. The U.S. Coast Guard immediately responded on July 12, deploying a C-130 aircraft from Barbers Point, Oahu, Hawaii to assist in the SAR. In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard in Guam provided potential search patterns as a tool to assist the local authorities with the search.

The U.S. Coast Guard C-130 aircrew was housed overnight July 13 at Pohnpei State’s Medical Monitoring Area (MMA) in Dekehtik, near the airport. The C-130 conducted full potential aerial searches on July 13; however, due to the FSM government’s requirements, the C-130 conducted shorter aerial searches July 14 before flying to Guam.

The U.S. Government provided SAR assistance alongside the FSM Maritime Police, Pohnpei State Government, the Pohnpei Fishing Club, and the individual’s friends and family members. Under the obligations of the Compact of Free Association between the U.S. and the FSM, the U.S. Coast Guard responds to FSM’s requests for emergency assistance, such as a search and rescue operation.

For more information and photos, please see Pohnpei State’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PohnpeiStateGov/

FSM Information Services

 

PORTLAND, Oregon—On July 18th, 2020, the Honorable Joe Enlet, Consul General of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) based in the U.S. State of Oregon, sent a request to the Department of Foreign Affairs that the Consulate Office be closed indefinitely, with essential services such as passport applications to continue on a limited basis through remote liaising. The reasons cited for the request include complications posed by the COVID-19 Pandemic. The FSM National Government is aware that the United States is presently undergoing significant increases of COVID-19 cases, including in States that FSM citizens predominantly reside in e.g. the State of Oregon, the State of Washington, the State of North Carolina, the State of Ohio, and the State of Texas. FSM citizens living in the U.S. are explicitly encouraged to comply with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s social distancing guidelines, to avoid large public gatherings, and to wear a mask when one is at work or shopping for essential goods.

For statistical purposes, FSM citizens are placed within the Pacific Islander category within U.S. Census and American Community Survey data etc. Pacific Islanders are suffering from the highest rate of COVID-19, far outnumbering other categories such as Asian, Black, White, or Hispanic residents of the United States of America. As of July 21st, 2020, the FSM National Government is aware of at least sixty-four (64) FSM citizens in the U.S. mainland who have been confirmed to have contracted a case of COVID-19. The FSM National Government is further aware of at least 11 FSM citizens in the U.S. who have passed away from the virus. The numbers the FSM National Government can confirm are likely lower than the actual total number of cases and deaths, as the cases and numbers identified within this release have been directly reported to the FSM National Government.

“I want to emphasize that these numbers are merely what is reported to the FSM Consulate and what we have been able to confirm ourselves,” Consul General Enlet wrote in a communication to the Department of Foreign Affairs. “There are over sixty (60) cases that our partners…have confirmed for the State of Hawaii alone.”

“This is an opportune time to capitalize on the collaborative effort,” the Honorable Jackson Soram, Deputy Chief of Mission of the FSM Embassy in the U.S., said in a statement. “Through the CARES Act, there is funding available to FSM groups and communities in the U.S. to address COVID-19. So far, the only active participant in utilizing these funds is the Manelu Organization of Guam (aka the Micronesian Resource Center One Stop Shop). The Embassy and its Consulates encourage Micronesian communities to reach out to the Embassy if they wish to apply for these funds to help keep our citizens and their communities safe from the coronavirus.”

“Staff will be doing their work remotely,” Consul General Enlet said. “We will continue to advocate for FSM citizens and assist with CARES Act grant assistance. We will also process passports and other necessary

Office of the Assistant Secretary

Insular and International Affairs

WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech and U.S. Department of State Ambassador Karen B. Stewart, representing the United States government, have concluded a second round of consultations with teams from both the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Republic of Palau.

The United States and both countries continue to move forward in discussions regarding certain expiring provisions of their respective Compact of Free Association agreements. The U.S. government team also held an informal consultation with the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). 

“We are pleased that our conversations with each of the teams continue in the spirit of partnership, collaboration, and mutual respect,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “Under the leadership of the Trump Administration, the special relationships with the freely associated states