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Toribiong’s emergency expenditures in question

By Aurea Gerundio-Dizon

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, Feb. 27 2012) – Seven senators Friday voted no to the resolution to file a lawsuit against President Toribiong for the unauthorized executive branch expenditures.

The resolution also sought to clarify the law regarding the recent state of emergency and to restore the principle of balance of power within the government.

Voting against the adoption of the resolution were Sen. Kathy Kesolei, Sen. Paul Ueki, Sen. Alfonso Diaz, Sen. Regina Mesebeluu, Sen. Regis Akitaya, Sen. Mark Rudimch and Sen. Mlib Tmetuchl.

Voting in favor of the resolution were Sen. Tommy Remengesau Jr., Sen. Surangel Whipps Jr., Sen. Camsek Chin and Sen. Raynold Oilouch.

Sen. Joel Toribiong recused himself in the voting while Sen. Hokkons Baules was not present during session.

The minority pointed out in the resolution that the code of ethics laws and the government procurement laws may have been violated by the president when the amount of over $100,000 was paid to Sen. Toribiong for the housing of the Uighurs, although an agreement was also signed by Palau and the United States in which the funds for the Uighurs were to be expended "at the discretion of the president of Palau, subject to Palau law."

When Palau accepted the Uighurs to resettle here, the minority said that the government received $98,333 per Uighur (for a total of $589,998) to account for costs of resettlement, medical and translator costs.

The minority also stated in the resolution that the government has admitted to committing unauthorized expenditures in fiscal years 2009 and 2011. They also believe that illegal expenditures were committed in FY 2010, thus the delay in releasing the 2010 audit report.

As to the state of emergency, the resolution states that the president has ignored the mandate of the Olbiil Era Kelulau set forth in House Joint Resolution No. 8-62-19S requiring that any funds required to be expended to meet the state of emergency shall be authorized and appropriated by the OEK.

Senate legal counsel Ryan Zinchefsky already advised the minority earlier that the Senate will not file lawsuit as a party against the president unless a majority of senators supports the filing.

Zinchefsky, however, said a case can still be filed against the president as nothing in the Senate Rules of Procedures prevents one from filing individually.

Whether or not the minority will file case against Toribiong, the members of this bloc are still mum about it.

Currently, a case against the president as regards legality of state of emergency is pending in court. The lawsuit was filed by Alan Seid.

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