In the previous article by Island Times, ‘Inner circle of meth traders and users’, a source claimed involvement of people in the national government in the methamphetamine trade.
Island Times reached out to the former President Johnson Toribiong to talk about the illegal drug problems assumed to reach the highest reins of public offices.
Sitting in a roadside café, Toribiong preferred to call it an informal interview. He did indeed express his opinions in three roles, an attorney, a former President and the concerned citizen of Palau.
However, he is not aware of people in the national government involved in the methamphetamine trade.
But, when asked if he ever suspected anyone, Toribiong admitted to rumors that are flying around about officials. However, in a strictly legal fashion, he said, “A person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.”
He refused to accept rumors to be evidence of anything and said, “Maybe they are raised because somebody is jealous because of somebody else.”
“It is better for several people who are guilty to be released and declared innocent than for one innocent man to be wrongfully accused and thrown in jail.” He added
Toribiong pressed on the idea of multi layer screening where there are police to monitor the police, post office, customs office and the ports.
“We need to have people who oversee other people in every office of the government.”
Toribiong feels the need to have a law where officials are investigated when the amount of salary they earn and their material wealth doesn’t add up.
“There are people who make $10,000 a month or a year and they drive fancy cars. They need to be investigated.” He said.
However, there exists an Office of Ombudsman and the Chief of Staff of the President currently oversees it as the position remains vacant.
The Office of Ombudsman was previously occupied by Mr. Llecholch and the officials have assured Island Times more details.
Toribiong believes that methamphetamine problem in the past was not as wide as it is today. He points at fast money and addiction to be at the core of the problem.
“Those who promote it, promote addiction by giving something free to the young people. Once they get hooked, they become the source of money.”
Toribiong adds that crime of trafficking of ice is difficult to investigate because it involves big money and hopes for better technology.
“Palau can be destroyed not by foreign invasions but by drugs.Drug use and trafficking. There is too much money involved.”
“Palau needs to take methamphetamine problem very seriously as there are people who allow it come in.” He added.
He points at the absurdity of the criminal penalty for drug trafficking.
“If the penalty is too high, the court does not enforce it. That is my understanding. Nobody pays that [high fine]. It becomes a joke.”
According to the attorney side of Toribiong, there are more drugs than before.
He expects better education in schools about methamphetamine where children are told about the bad effects of meth.
“We also need to upgrade the public image of the police officials. A lot of criminals don’t respect the officials now. Train them to be disciplined, clean and sharp looking.”
He adds that there is tendency among the officials to do favors to their friends and family and urges Palauans to change it. (By Eshan Kalyanikar)