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After two weeks of service in the Mortlocks, Pacific Partnership 2019 officially opens in Chuuk

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

April 13, 2019

PP1Weno, Chuuk—Though the FSM mission of the 14th Pacific Partnership actually began almost two weeks ago when the team was diverted to outer islands in the Mortlocks of Chuuk that suffered severe damage during Typhoon Wutip, the opening ceremony was not until this morning.

Moored at the Transco Dock, the expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Brunswick was the site of the opening ceremony.  Before the ceremony, Director of Mission Captain Patrick (Paddy) Allen of Great Britain’s Royal Navy conducted a private tour of the vessel for dignitaries including Chuuk Governor Johnson Elimo, FSM Secretary for Foreign Affairs Lorrin Robert, United States Ambassador to the FSM Robert Riley, members of the Chuuk legislature and other dignitaries.

The Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral all-hazards preparedness mission in the Indo-Pacific region.  Led by the U.S. Navy and at the invitation of host nations, Pacific Partnership military and civilian organizations work collectively in medical, dental, veterinary, and engineering civic action programs that ensure the international community is better prepared to come together in times of natural disaster or crisis.  Its goal is to enhance readiness, strengthen relationships, and to exchange knowledge.  The Pacific Partnership works collectively to increase regional stability and security, open dialogue between leaders, and foster new and enduring friendships across the Indo-Pacific region.

More than 500 military and civilians from Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Peru, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the US serve as part of the Pacific Partnership 2019.  This year the crew includes members of the US Army from the region.  Ambassador Riley asked Specialist Rally Gilmete from Pohnpei and Sergeant Joseia Lemari from Majuro, RMI to stand and be recognized during the ceremony.PP4

This is the second time for the Pacific Partnership to incorporate a multinational command staff.  The Director of the Mission is from the United Kingdom.  The Chief of Staff is from Australia.

The partnership also includes public engagement.  Yesterday, members of Pacific Partnership visited Xavier High School where members of the team participated in sporting events from kick-ball to basketball.  The military band based in Pearl Harbor gave a stunning performance to the delight of the young crowd who fairly swooned at the performance.

Though the USNS Brunswick did not arrive at the Weno port until yesterday morning, the mission began in earnest two weeks ago when they were diverted to remote outer islands of Chuuk.  According to Ambassador Riley, who spoke at this morning’s ceremony, during their time there, the medical team members saw 1,200 patients.  Pacific Partnership brought from Kwajalein, gutter material with which they repaired the gutters on many of the houses.  That gutter material helps to fill the water catchment systems that are critical to the outer islands.  They repaired the roof at a school.  They also made connections with the islanders through sporting events and many other community events.

“This arrangement (US defense of the FSM agreed to through the Compact of Free Association) has been a force of stability in the FSM, and by extension, to the Pacific and this has global reverberations,” Ambassador Riley said.  “Over the last seven decades, the United States has promoted a free and open Pacific in which independent nations, with diverse cultures and different aspirations can prosper side by side in freedom and peace.  Our leaders, soldiers, and sailors have helped frame, and now strive to sustain and strengthen the international system of clear and transparent rules, peaceful arbitration pursuits and the rule of law.”

“Through sustained cooperation, our security engagement will increase in the near and the mid-term, as we align our security posture with the threats that currently exist in the Pacific theater,” Ambassador Riley said.

Governor Johnson Elimo reminded the audience that in 2008, the USNS Mercy visited Chuuk as part of the Pacific Partnership and provided medical treatments to over 20,000 people.  “Although it may look smaller than the 2008 mission, they have already visited the far flung islands treating our needy island people and interacting with them,” he said.  He thanked the team profusely for their service there.  “Let’s move on, embracing the vision of the Pacific Partnership to the fullest, fullest meaning of the word ‘partnership’ where governments embrace each other in the quest of seeking peace, happiness, and prosperity.

PP3FSM Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Lorrin Robert who was representing FSM President Peter Christian was the next to address the audience.  He said that he was not surprised at the strong relationship with Micronesia.  “After all, it is right here in Micronesia where the American day begins,” he said.  “And also, we are, in terms of security and threats in the Pacific, in Micronesia, we are the tip of the spear…we will continue to contribute to peace and prosperity throughout the world.”

“I spent 33 years in the Royal Navy,” Captain Allen said.  “My whole premise from the Cold War when I first started has been about deterrents.  It’s about combating manmade threats, whether that’s a state threat or a non-state threat…But coming to Pacific Partnership, it’s the first time I’ve done a mission like this, it’s not about deterrents, because, as much as we look at the geopolitics of the region and have a look at the defense side, the security side and the resilience that we bring, that tsunami in 2004 killed a quarter of a million people in a matter of hours.  The greatest threat that you have for the security of the region, is Mother Nature,” he said.  “Then, it’s not about deterrents but about resilience.”PP2

The Pacific Partnership was born after the tsunami in December 2004 that swept through parts of South and Southeast Asia.  It began as a military response to one of the world’s most catastrophic disaster.  The United States helped to spearhead the inaugural Pacific Partnership 2006.  Partner Nation militaries and Non-governmental Organizations worked together to expand disaster relief capacity in Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Timor Leste.  The mission focus evolved from direct assistance to furthering regional resiliency and security through disaster risk reduction opportunities to assist nations in preparing for and responding to crises.

The Pacific Partnership 2019 host nations are Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Timor-Leste, Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

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Seven charged with kidnapping and sexually exploiting young girls

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

April 11, 2019

Pohnpei—On April 9, Pohnpei State prosecutors filed criminal charges against charged James Hadley, Jim George, Johnny Rantung, Mariana Silwer, Mayson Victor, Resner Manuel, and Saferi Wantoro for crimes involving sexual exploitation, and abuse of young women aged 14, 15, and 18.

The five sets of criminal information documents, numbered 19-69 through 19-73, alleged that the defendants committed the specific crimes of criminal conspiracy, criminal solicitation, kidnapping, criminal coercion, sexual abuse, trafficking in persons, sexual servitude of a minor, involuntary servitude, pandering, and prostitution.

On the same day, the court found that there was sufficient cause to issue a search and seizure warrant based on the application for the warrant and an accompanying affidavit.

The finding that led to the issuance of the search and seizure warrant is by no means a conviction of the named people.  Each is presumed to be innocent unless otherwise proven in court.

The Criminal Information documents indicate that in the case of the 14 year old victim, the crimes were alleged to have been perpetrated over the course of several days in late March. During that time she was allegedly coerced to have sex with several men who may have paid her alleged captors for the opportunity.

The search warrant authorized the search and seizure of commercial vehicles with license plate numbers CV-0106, CV-1400, CV-3780, CV-0501, and CV-4299 that were allegedly used in furtherance of crime.

It also authorized the search and seizure of a shack on the west side of the Dekehtik Causeway as well as a ship or vessel also moored on the west side of the causeway.

The warrant also authorized the seizure of cell phones and other digital and electronic media devices belonging to the accused.

The crimes were alleged to have taken place on the campus of Kolonia Elementary School, Misko’s beach, and the structures and floating vessels on the Dekehtik Causeway named in the search and seizure warrant.

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Kosraean voters in Pohnpei to recast their ballots for the Kosrae at-large seat

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

April 11, 2019

FSM—FSM’s Office of the National Election Director has ordered a revote of the Pohnpei Special Polling Place for the FSM Congress Kosrae State four-year at-large seat.  The revote is only for Kosrean voters living in Pohnpei who were eligible to vote in the March elections and will be held on April 18, 2019 at the FSM National Election Office in Palikir from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

According to the Office of the National Election Director everyone who voted at the Pohnpei Special Polling Place during the March 5 election MUST go to the National Election Office in Palikir on April 18, 2019 and revote.  Since there is a revote, NO votes from the March 5, 2019 will be counted.

“The revote will only be for those Kosrae voters who timely applied to vote absentee at the Pohnpei Special Polling Place prior to March 5, 2019 election and those with valid Voter IDs obtained prior to March 5, 2019,” the notice from the Election Directors says.  “Kosrae voters who voted in the election of March 5, 2019 outside Pohnpei will not be permitted to cast ballots in the revote.”

The announcement of the special election said that a shortage of ballots prevented 20 eligible, timely arriving Kosraen voters from casting their votes.  “This occurred because a larger than anticipated number of voters in possession of validly issued Voter ID card presented themselves at the Pohnpei special polling (place) to vote,” the notice of revote said.

On April 1, 2019, Vice President Yosiwo George, who won the Kosrae at-large seat over Aren B. Palik by 10 votes, filed a 41 page petition at the FSM Supreme Court to appeal the decision of the Office of the National Election Director.  His appeal asked for preliminary injunctive relief to bar the revote.

On April 9, 2019 a three member panel of justices consisting of Chief Justice Dennis K. Yamase, and Associate Justices Beauleen Carl-Worswick and Larry Wentworth denied the request for a preliminary injunction.  The revote will take place as decided by the Office of the National Election Director.

“One who seeks an injunction pending an appeal must show irreparable injury,” the ruling denying the injunction said. “A ‘winning’ candidate cannot show that a revote constitutes irreparable harm because, after the revote is held, that candidate may still be declared and certified as the winning candidate—the revote might not alter the ultimate outcome…George thus cannot show that he will suffer irreparable harm.  He can only show that he might end up losing an election that had seemed he had already won.”

The Court decided that one of the three pillars that would be required to be built before the Court should decide to issue any preliminary injunction also had not been met, that of harm to the public interest if an injunction is not issued.  The Court decided that it was in the public’s interest that fair and accurate elections should take place, and the balance-of-injuries favor neither George nor Palik in that regard.

“Because George cannot show irreparable harm, we need not, at this point, consider how likely he is to succeed on the merits (of the appeal he filed with the Court)”, the Court ruled.

At a status conference on appeal of the Court’s ruling this morning, the Court affirmed that the revote will take place and that any appeals on the matter will take place after the revote.

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Grant contract signing ceremony for the project for procuring a medical waste incinerator in Yap State

Embassy of Japan

JAPIncinOn February 27, 2019, a Grant Contract Signing Ceremony was held at Yap State hospital conference room for the Project for “Procuring a Medical Waste Incinerator in Yap State”, which provided Department of Health Services, Yap State with $61,640 under the Grant Assistance for Grass-roots Human Security Projects.  

This project intends to provide one (1) Medical Waste Incinerator, in order to ensure a clean and safe environment without emission of pollutants.  

The Hon. Henry S. Falan, Governor of Yap State, showed his gratitude for the generous assistance from the Government of Japan. He also mentioned that with this project people in Yap will be ensured a clean and safe environment. Ambassador Ryoichi Horie stated that the important stage is to maintain and utilize this incinerator for the welfare of the people in Yap, and he hoped the Yap state hospital will continue and improve the provision of good medical services to the people in Yap.

               

The ceremony was witnessed by The Hon. Lt. Governor Jesse Salau, the Chief of Division of Media & Protocol Mr. Sebastian Tamagken, the Public Information Officer Mr. Joshua Libyan, the Director of the Department of Health Services Ms. Aileen Tareg, the Department of Health Services, Maintenance Division Chief Mr. Augustino Harongochem, the Finance Operations Manager Mr. Julius Tun, JICA volunteers and the staff of the Embassy of Japan in FSM.

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Pohnpei Conducts First Live Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Consultation by Video Teleconference

By: Christina Higa, Co-Director, Pacific Basin Telehealth Resource Center

GastroPohnpei Hospital’s Dr. Payne Perman makes history again!  Today he conducted a gastrointestinal endoscopy in Pohnpei while a panel of experts from the Australian and New Zealand Gastroenterology International Training Association (ANZGITA) and Fiji School of Medicine offer real time advice and guidance by video teleconference. 

The procedure conducted today was quite complex.  It involved inserting an endoscope, a flexible tube with a light and camera, into the stomach.  He also used a balloon dilator that was inserted into the scope and through the narrowing to widen it.  This is a specialized procedure that is usually done by experienced endoscopist.

To assure optimal video image and teleconference quality, Pohnpei Hospital used a high definition camera and a new desktop screen so that the Pacific Island partners could be seen by the Pohnpei team during the procedure. 

During the procedure, Drs. Chris Hair; Mai Ling; Paul Clark observed and gave advice along the way.  Experts were able to advise on what instruments and sizes of instruments to use. Also help with the next steps in managing this patient. Dr. Perman is a general internist, so having access to super sub-specialists (e.g., gastroenterologists) expands his health care delivery to the people of Pohnpei. Especially to patients without insurance and are not able to get help abroad.

Dr. Perman said, “I would not have had the confidence to do this by myself and would typically have to refer these more complex cases off island; however, with the team of experts I was able to successfully conduct the biopsy and plan for next steps for the patient.”   Dr. Perman was able to gain the confidence because he had several experts looking on with him.  At the same time, other participants who joined the telehealth session learned much by observing and asking questions.  Other participants were from Kosrae, American Samoa, Fiji, Palau, Hawaii, and even Japan.

The patient was very thankful to have had this opportunity to receive care from a team of experts and expressed his gratitude to the Pohnpei team for their good care.   Today was a live procedure that benefitted a patient and health care providers from around the Pacific that observed and learned together.

This was the 9th gastroenterology distance learning session that is coordinated by Pohnpei Hospital and conducted in partnership with ANZGITA; Fiji School of Medicine; and the Pacific Basin Telehealth Resource Center. Finally, the Leo Etscheit Foundation and FSM Telecom should be recognized for the continued support in providing the bandwidth necessary for the program.

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Handover ceremony for the project for construction of support center for persons with disabilities

Embassy of Japan

JAPPCOOn April 3, 2019, the Handover Ceremony was held at the Pohnpei Consumer Organization in Dolonier Nett for the Project for Construction of Support Center for Persons with Disabilities in Pohnpei state which provided the Pohnpei Consumer Organization (PCO) with US$109,105 under the Grant Assistance for Grass-roots Human Security Projects. 

The objective of this project is to increase awareness on human rights of persons with disabilities by constructing a new facility which will be utilized as a space to hold training and workshops for empowerment of persons with disabilities.

In his address, His Excellency Ryoichi Horie, Ambassador of Japan, expressed his delight for the completion of this project which brings a great supporting center that will contribute to the improvement in quality of lives of persons with disabilities in Pohnpei State. Mr. Henry Phillip, the President of PCO, expressed his sincere gratitude to the Government of Japan for the generous donation. Mr. Nelbert Perez, Founder of PCO, acknowledged Ambassador Horie for the generous donation and stated that the new building will be a model for accessibility for those persons with disabilities in the country and bring more possibilities for them. The Hon. Marcelo K Peterson, Governor of the Pohnpei State Government, expressed his deepest appreciation for the variety of continuous support from Japan to Pohnpei State. To close out the remarks, the Hon. Isonahnken of Nett Municipality, Mr. Salvador Iriarte expressed his sincere gratitude to the Government of Japan for the support to the people of Pohnpei.

The program was enhanced by presentation of songs from the people of Sapwuafik, Ambassador and Madam, and Mr. Danny Kalio, a member of PCO.

The ceremony was witnessed by Traditional leaders, The Hon. Lorin S. Robert, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, representatives of Pohnpei legislature, staffs of FSM National Government and Pohnpei state Government, members of PCO and staffs of Embassy of Japan.              

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Trust Fund Committee of the Trust Fund for the people of the FSM conducts first quarter meeting and reviews Trust Fund performance to February 28th, 2019 Approves release of FY 2018 annual report

Trust Fund for the People of the

Federated States of Micronesia

 

April 3rd, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C.– The Trust Fund Committee of the Trust Fund for the People of the Republic of the Federated States of Micronesia (the Fund) conducted its fiscal year 2019 (FY19) second quarter meetings on April 1st, 2019.

The meeting covered the Fund’s investment performance for the October-December 2018 quarter as well as the January-February 2019 period, a review of the Fund’s FY18 annual report and audit, adjustment of the Investment Policy Statement and investment fee schedule, and distribution policy for post FY23.

For the October-December 2018 quarter, the Fund lost 7.4%, net of fees, and had an ending net asset value of  $618,026,379. Losses were due to volatility caused by U.S. and global economic and finance uncertainty, especially in late December. During the quarter, a U.S. government annual contribution, per the schedule of the Compact of Free Association, as Amended, in the amount of $32,242,320 was deposited on October 2nd, 2018.

As of February 28th, the Fund had gained back most of the first quarter losses and was down 1.5%, net of fees, for the fiscal year-to-date (October 1st, 2018 to February 28th, 2019). The total asset value was $657,924,104 as of February 28th, 2019.

The Fund’s independent auditor, Baker Tilly, presented the Fund’s FY18 Audited Annual Financial Statements. The audit was conducted per U.S. Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS) and Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS). There were no negative findings or disclosures identified in the audit.

The FY18 Annual Report was presented to the Committee. The Fund ended FY18 (September 30th, 2018) with a restricted fiduciary net position of $636,086,452 compared to $564,970,738 as of the end of FY17. The gain was due to investment earnings and the annual contribution from the U.S. government. The Fund had an annual weighted rate of return of 6.8% for FY18 compared to 13.8% for FY17. The Committee approved the Annual Report and authorized dissemination of the Annual and audited financial statements to the respective governments. The full report and other information on the Fund may be accessed on the Fund website at https://fsmcfatf.com.

The Committee approved a revised Investment Policy Statement and fee schedule with Mercer Investing Management, the Fund’s Investment Adviser. The Investment Policy Statement was adjusted to include changes to the U.S. small/mid cap, emerging markets and fixed income asset strategies. These changes together with a reduced Mercer advisory fee schedule and elimination of the non-discretionary management will result in a reduced percentage of annual fees paid by the Fund for the Investment Adviser and money managers.

To address the formulation of a distribution policy and other issues regarding the Trust Fund Agreement for the post FY23 period, the Committee agreed to appoint a subcommittee to determine options for the Committee to review and consider. Future discussion will be held regarding the membership and terms of reference of the subcommittee.

As provided for under the Compact of Free Association agreements, as amended (U.S. Public Law 108-188), the Fund was established to contribute to the economic advancement and long-term budgetary self-reliance of the people of the Federated States of Micronesia when annual grant assistance under the Compact expires after fiscal year 2023. 

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