The third half of 2021 was just work, work, work, mundane but necessary work. Work to clean up after Surigae and get help to those that were affected by the typhoon.
After damage assessments, getting the fundings and supplies to those in need followed. Most of that assistance was funneled through to those who needed them by the Palau International Red Cross.
Entering the 16th month under the pandemic, the community was still on alert. Vaccines for adolescents became available and the drive was on to get this age group vaccinated. Meanwhile, a travel ban on China was lifted. In June, the requirement for Quarantine Certificate was removed and travelers could just purchase tickets from airlines directly after showing them the required documents.
The new Minister of Finance Kaleb Udui Jr. warned of tough times ahead and called for belt-tightening. OEK looks for new revenue sources idea proposing re-opening PNMS for fishing for a short period to bring in revenue. Public education on the new tax reform bill started. The complex proposal was one of the policies required for the concessionary loans Palau was getting from the Asian Development Bank to help with mitigation of the pandemic.
A third of the way into the year, some of the major drug cases that were filed in 2020 were finally adjudicated. Wenty, Aiken, and Gibbons were sentenced for drug possession and drug trafficking. Although the appellate court overturned Ngirakesiil’s manslaughter and released her from jail saying the government did not prove she was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The court also found the former governor of Ngiwal State, Ellender Ngirameketii guilty of all charges raised by the Office of Special Prosecutor.
Growing tension between the President and Vice President was seen in the exchange of memorandums and letters between their two offices. President Whipps suddenly moved Vice President Sengebau-Senior from the Ministry of State to Ministry of Justice with little warning.
A young lady died shortly after being found unresponsive in her car. A week later, her boyfriend was found dead in the same vehicle. It was confirmed that the death was due to carbon monoxide poisoning from a leak in the vehicle.
As the end of the 3rd quarter of 2021 comes to a close, President Whipps nominated a retired American educator as the Minister of the Ministry of Education. And Palau is visited by US Pacific Airforce General Kenneth Wilsbach to promote the agenda of “free and open Indo-Pacific”. (By: L.N. Reklai)