By: L.N. Reklai

  • Year 2016 was a noteworthy year for Palau where many significant events occurred that affected individuals, government and country as a whole.
  • It was a year where Palau experienced one of the worst drought of its known history, and only a year after recuperating from 2 super typhoons.
  • It was also a year of many political contentions and legal battles that may set precedence and set new course for Palau in many new directions.


  • It was a year of the 10th Republic of Palau General Election. The process was wrought with legal contentions and considered to be one of the longest period of campaigning for offices of President and Vice President.
  • Also a year that the attention was drawn to the legal system by news headlines, from murders, to major drug busts, to battles between MOJ and the Office of Attorney General, Interim Special Prosecutor, upheaval in Division of Corrections and missing person.
  • Meanwhile, Palau was featured in regional and global news leading the environmental banner, signing the COP 21, ratifying the Climate Change Agreement, and forging SIS Strategy among others.
  • Regional organizations gave recognition to certain accomplishment through the media  such as  the International Monetary Fund (IMF Report) and Asian Development Bank Reports reporting of Palau’s improved economic performances.  Palau was ranked number 1 in Asia-Pacific for Freedom of the Press.
  • It was also a year where the tourism numbers declined month after month but PRC national continue to represent the largest share of the tourism market.
  • Some of the news headlines are as follows:
  • January

    • Road accident in Malakal on New Year’s eve claim one life and injuring 3 when a motor vehicle driven by a drunk driver plowed into pedestrians on the sidewalk.
    • 12th Peleliu State Legislature started off with oath taking of its legislator-elects split into two different factions.
    • Interim Special Prosecutor Melissa Simms moved to dismiss a case she filed against Vice President Bells citing the “best interest of the Republic” as the reasoning for dismissal.
    • An inmate in Koror Jail was shot with a firearm within jail after an altercation with another inmate.
    • And an Associate Justice Ashby Pate resigned from his post as an associate justice of Palau’s Supreme Court, citing personal reasons.
    • A Sex Registry Law was implemented requiring sex offenders to register.
    • Tourism from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) represented over 50% of the total market share of tourists in Palau.
    • Three 38’ footer boats were burned at Ngermid dock in Koror causing a loss of over $100,000 to the owner Sunrise Tours and three more boats were burned at M-Dock belonging to another tour company Blue Palau Tour only 15 days after the first 3 boats were burned in Ngermid.


    • Warning of upcoming drought came out on the 5th of February showing possibly the lowest recorded rainfall in history.
    • President Remengesau Jr. urged public to take warning of El Nino seriously and to start conserving water.
    • The first case for violation of Palau Marine Sanctuary Act was filed against two boat captains.
    • Surangel Whipps Jr. and Sandra Sumang Pierantozzi announced their candidacy for the Office of the President.
    • Junior Imeong Larry Hillbroom, an heir to DHL founder Larry Hillbloom, was arrested upon arriving at the Palau Airport on charges of drug trafficking. In a daring escape, he fled from Koror jail only to be caught 24 hours later and charged with Escape in the First Degree.
    • Palau became the 2nd country in the world to ratify the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in New York on February 23.


    • Biosecurity bill becomes law to protect Palau from invasive species.
    • Nippon Foundation and Sasakawa Peace Foundation pledge to Strengthening Palau’s maritime law enforcement capabilities, by providing new patrol boats, fuel and funding for next 10 years.
    • President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. declares his bid to run again for the Office of the President.
    • Palau media members incorporate Palau Media Council.
    • Leonardo DiCaprio visits Palau.
    • National Emergency Committee recommends President Remengesau Jr. declares State of Emergency for the drought , Ngerimel dam shuts down and Ngerikiil production drops to 19%.


    • State funeral held for Ambassador Stuart Beck and burial in Palau.
    • Senate calls for resignation of Interim Special Prosecutor Melissa Simms.  ISP Simms resigns.
    • First 10 days of the State of Emergency lapsed, request for 2nd SOE made.
    • Senators deny request for extension of the State of Emergency.
    • Senate President Camsek Chin gets medivac to the Philippines for emergency care.
    • Jellyfish Lake adult jellyfish is reported to have disappeared, El Nino is reported cause.
    • Inmates fight at jail causes serious injuries, Minister switch Directors of CID with DOC.
    • Vice President Antonio Bells sues Attorney General Bradley, Interim Special Prosecutor Melissa Simms and Bureau of Public Safety Director Ishmael Aguon.


    • 64 year old Palauan Damiana Ngirailild, resident of Washington State, arrested and charged for possession of controlled substance.
    • Teacher charged for assault & abuse of a student, Miriam Anastacio arrested and charged.
    • President issued Directive to Improve jail.
    • Sure Save Mart  destroyed by fire.
    • Peleliu government passed a budget under the first Caretaker government.
    • $14 million dollar contract signed to improve water system in Koror and Airai.
    • Inmates admit to attempt robbery of HA retail store.


    • Ms. Sheryl Saito was charged on two counts of possession and trafficking of controlled substance or “ice”.
    • Senator Senior denies allegations made by HOTL, claiming attempts to discredit her integrity.
    • Governor Adachi urges OEK not to re-open public land claims.
    • Midas wins Kayangel State governorship.
    • Dispute over judicial regulations governing separation of trial and appellate divisions.
    • Senate Re-Apportionment Commission publishes its report on the re-apportionment of the Senate for 13 Senators and 1 district.
    • Oldias recommended for Associate Justice of Supreme Court.
    • First “Fishtival” in northern states a success!


    • New resort opens, Palau Cove Resort in Malakal holds soft opening.
    • Family fishing trip turns tragic went entire family of four drowned at sea.
    • 2016 Congressional Reapportionment Commission sued for its decision to maintain 13 senators and one district plan.
    • Vice President Antonio Bells declares his bid for the Office of the President.
    • Heated debate over controversial bill to reopen public land claims continue between the House and the Senate.


    • Record number of women run for elected office with 13 petitions filed.
    • Asian Development Bank President Nakao visits Palau.
    • HOD slams NDPB in public hearing, Calling for an end to a moratorium and firing of the new NDPB CEO.
    • Drug Taskforce Officer accused of altering drug evidence , Admits to tampering with evidence and using drugs.
    •  Reclassification of Nikko Bay raising controversy.
    • Presidential debate held with 4 candidates vying to gain points from voters.
    • El Nino decimated jellyfish at Jellyfish Lake, Jellyfish will return under right conditions.


    • All Nippon Airways (ANA) starts scheduled chartered service to Palau.
    • Court rules for 11 Senators, 1 district in re-apportionment appeal by petitioners,Ruling backfires on petitioners.
    • Clifton Kloulubak pled guilty, gets 25 years, one of the brothers accused in the shooting death of Kenneth Koshiba sentenced.
    • VP debate proceed with single candidate, Raynold Oilouch states his position on various subjects with no one rebutting due to him being the only candidate to show at the Vice Presidential debate.
    • Election Commission in hot seat, 4 candidates disqualified for Olbiil Era Kelulau, 3 lawsuits pending.
    • TR and Oilouch ahead in Palau proper and central in Primary Election,1,258 absentee received to date, 463 confine and prior voting.


    • TRO is denied and absentee ballots casted for the national primary election on September 27, 2016 will be counted.
    • Bundled mailing of multiple ballots not illegal, No recount for Ngiwal election ballots.
    • $6million expansion of Mariculture Center to commence soon
    • 2016 Election faced with more challenges, EC loses 2 out of 3 staffs.
    • There will be 13 senators says court, Decision upholds CRC 2016 Reapportionment & Redistricting Plan.
    • Absentee registration is permitted says court, Registering to vote while outside of Palau is ALLOWED according to judgment issued by the Trial Division of Palau’s Supreme Court.


    • Uyehara leds in Angaur gubernatorial race.
    • Police search for local woman 51 days missing.
    • Tommy wins presidency by 264 votes over Surangel , Arnold prevails with 579 lead over Yosi for vice president.
    • Remengesau signs Beyond Oceans Declaration during the COP22 emphasizing Palau’s commitment to protecting the oceans.
    • No deal on Land Court, HOD rejects conferee report, the attempt to breathe life into Land Court fails as the House of Delegates in their 29th Special Session voted to reject the Conference Committee Report on the Senate bill 9-188,SD1, HD1,CD1.
    • Former AAG alleges rape and wrongful firing in Palau.
    • First commercial production of Kelsebuul in Palau, held a soft-opening on Wednesday, to showcase their farm’s first rabbit fish (Kelsebuul) production yield of over 1000 pieces of commercial value.
    • December
    • Boundary between Ngeremlengui and Ngardmau now set,Ngeremlengui gains Ngerchelechuus, Ngardmau gains reef.
    • Bill to overhaul foreign investment act passed into law.
    • High Chief Ibedul of Koror sues State Governor Adachi .
    • Senate rejects proposed funding for the 10th inaugural activities.
    • Uludong sues Chief Reklai for defamation, violation of freedom of expression, Seeks $250,000 for punitive damages. [/restrict]