Lawmakers urge Remengesau to create task force to address displacement

  03 Apr 2018

Legislators urged Palau President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. to create an Ad hoc Advisory Task Force to examine situations of lessees facing threats of displacement after former public lands are recently granted back to its original owners.

House Joint Resolution 10-25-6S, which was adopted by the 10th Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK) recently, noted that recent land ownership determinations have led to pending mass displacement of around 100 families now occupying former public lands lost by its original owners to colonizers in the past but had now been reclaimed legally.

“…the Olbiil Era Kelulau considers the dilemma that these families are facing as warranting redress by our national government,” the resolution reads.

OEK recommended through the resolution that the Ad hoc Advisory Task Force should be made up of 12 members which will be composed of three members appointed by the President – one of them must be the Minister of Cultural Affairs who will serve as the task force chairperson, two members appointed by the Senate president, two appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates, two appointed by the National Council of Chiefs, another two appointed by the Association of Governors, and one member appointed by the Chamber of Commerce.

“The Olbiil Era Kelulau finds that the creation of this task force is of immediate importance and that these appointments should be made as soon as possible and the first official meeting held swiftly thereafter,” the resolution reads.

Island Times previously reported that a faction of the Ngeribkal clan issued a letter to some of the land tenants of the 28-acre piece of ancestral land in Tiull, Ngerbeched who reportedly refused or failed to make payments for rent, notifying them to vacate the property by April 16 or else face legal repercussions.

In a letter dated March 19, 2018 which was signed by Dirribkal Mary Hiroko Sugiyama of the Ngeribkal clan and was addressed to one of the tenants of the disputed land property, it was stated that the tenant had allegedly shown contempt and disrespect to the authority of the traditionally recognized representatives and administrators of the clan by failing to heed the call to pay or make arrangements with their due rents by 5 p.m. of March 16.

Twenty-six Tiull land tenants reportedly sent a letter to Sugiyama, expressing their refusal to pay their dues to her as they will be settling their accounts instead to the members of the other faction of the Ngeribkal clan.

The Ngeribkal clan reacquired the land property after decades of fighting for its ownership when the Palau Court affirmed their appeal last November 2017. They previously claimed that their fight for the right to claim the land cost them thousands of dollars which they appropriated for attorney fees, among other expenses.

It was also previously reported that many of the homeowners in Tiull in the early 1950s had moved from other states to Koror and leased portions of this land from the Trust Territory Government. The Trust Territory Government then transferred the land to Koror State Government which continued to lease the lands to applicants. (Rhealyn C. Pojas/Reporter)