Pohnpei Legislature expected to issue resolution objecting to December 5 repatriation flight
- Category: News
- Published: Monday, 30 November -0001 00:00
- Written by Bill Jaynes
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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,
will be tested for COVID-19 multiple times. National and State law enforcement will ensure the quarantine site is secure and that access and visitation are prohibited. Every single repatriating person will undergo the same COVID-19 testing and security protection regime.”
While the Pohnpei State Legislature may register its objections, the President’s press release makes it clear that “only the FSM COVID-19 Task Force can make decisions on the repatriation process with guidance given to them by the 21st FSM Congress through Congressional Resolutions extending the Declaration of Public Health Emergency. Decisions being made for repatriation efforts are collectively developed in the FSM COVID-19 Task Force, in close consultation with the State Task Forces; no single individual, to include elected and appointed officials, can, or does, unilaterally make repatriation decisions on a case-by-case basis,” it said.
“I have demanded an airtight repatriation regime, and that is precisely what we’re doing,” His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the FSM, said in a statement.
“Ever since our border closed in March, our citizenry ha(s) been split into two distinct groups: those who wish to maintain the border closure until the Pandemic is no longer a threat, and those who wish to reunite with loved ones stranded abroad. As your President, I am obligated to protect and secure our Nation’s borders and to keep you safe from external threats. We remain COVID-19 free, and we are implementing an airtight process to keep the COVID-19 virus out. I will not allow community transmission of the virus in our country. That said, I am not only the President to those of us here at home, but also to our brothers and sisters abroad. I am responsible for all of you, and I am committed to ensuring our citizens return safely home while our Nation’s citizens in the FSM remain safe from the virus,” the press release said.
Some of the arriving diplomats who live inside gated communities will be allowed to home quarantine but that process also will be monitored.
“I’ve asked our Task Force to keep me updated on the development of vaccines, and there are positive developments on a vaccine that will be available soon in the months to come. Our Nation has reserved adequate funds, in the millions of dollars, that we can purchase an effective vaccine to cover 100% of our population, beginning with frontline workers and vulnerable members of our society. Until every person is vaccinated, our border must remain closed—but we remain committed to bringing our stranded citizens home safely,” the President’s press release concluded.