Eight members of the 14th Peleliu State Legislature–consisting of five chiefs and three legislators–filed a lawsuit claiming that the other members of the Peleliu 14th Legislature violated Peleliu’s Constitution by holding an unlawful session and confirming two people as chiefs in violation of rules of procedure.
The lawsuit asks the court to void the January 1st session held by the defendants as unconstitutional and rule any business held that day to be null and void. The suit has also asked the court to rule defendants Kokichi Ngiraingas and Batros Basilio are not members of the 14th Peleliu State Legislature and that positions of a speaker, vice speaker, and floor leader adopted during the January session are invalid. In addition, it has asked to nullify the oaths of office administered to the defendants.
The plaintiffs, through their suit, asked the court to rule that the installation session that they held is a legal and valid installation of the 14th PSL.
The plaintiffs include five chiefs: Obakeldelolk Isao Singeo, Uchelsias Shallum Etpison, Obaklechol Peter Napoleon, Aderkeroi Postol Remeliik, and Renguul Donald Haruo. The three legislators (who are also plaintiffs) are Eufrasia Remeliik, Francis Remeliik, and Jerry Singeo.
The lawsuit was filed on January 7 against the other legislators’ defendants: Billy Rekemel, Godwin Sadao, Alex Ngiraingas, Willard Smau, Joel Okada, and Salii Rekemel, along with two others claiming titles of Obaklechol and Aderkeroi–Bastros Basilio and Kokichi Ngiraingas.
The suit claimed that on January 1, 2022, the legislator-elects of the 14th Peleliu Legislature held an installation ceremony at Peleliu State Legislature. The lawsuit claimed the Rules of Procedure of the 13th Legislature were in effect and according to the Rules of Procedure, the oldest female was supposed to serve as temporary speaker and convene the session. The suit claimed that legislator-elect Godwin Sadao attempted to call the installation session to order “without any agenda” and attempted to appoint defendant Billy Rekemel as temporary speaker.
The plaintiffs protested the attempt to install Billy Rekemel as a temporary speaker but the defendants continued despite objection. The suit claims that the actions taken by defendants Sadao and Rekemel were “unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful as well as violative of the Rules which were in effect or should have been in effect.”
During the “purported installation session”, defendant Billy Rekemel “while attempting to act as Temporary Speaker” began a roll call where he called defendant Kokichi Ngiraingas as chief Aderkeroi instead of plaintiff Aderkeroi Postol Remeliik.
The Rules of Procedure the plaintiffs claimed were in effect on January 1st state that “any chief whose credentials were accepted by the previous Legislature and who was duly seated as a member of the previous Legislature and has not been removed from his seat, shall be deemed qualified to be a member and thus, automatically takes his seat as a member of the newly installed Legislature without being subjected to the scrutiny of the Credentials Committee.”
The plaintiffs allegedly left when their objections were ignored and went next door to the Chiefs’ Office where they conducted a “Legal Installation Session”.
In that “Legal Installation Session”, plaintiff Eufrasia Remeliik called the session to order as a temporary speaker and appointed plaintiff Renguul Donald Haruo as temporary Floor Leader. During this session, they then adopted a Resolution 14-02-22 adopting the Rules of 13th PSL as temporary Rules of the 14th PSL. Under the same rules, they created a Credentials Committee and approved credentials of the 10 elected members and the five sitting chiefs, and officially sat the 10 members and 5 chiefs as lawful members of the 14th PSL.
The lawsuit states that “because there are fifteen (15) members of the Peleliu State Legislature” according to Article VII of Peleliu Constitution, the presence of the eight (8) members constitute a quorum.
According to a court filing, after organizing, they requested Justice Kathleen Salii to administer their oaths of office, but were told that she had already been asked by the defendants. Plaintiffs Eufrasia Remeliik and Renguul Donald Haruo said they met Justice Salii and requested that she not administer oaths to either side until they meet to resolve their issues and according to the suit, Justice Salii agreed.
The suit said that in reliance of the Presiding Justice agreement not to administer the oath to either side, the plaintiffs left Peleliu and upon arriving in Koror, found out that the defendants had been administered the oath of office.
The plaintiffs claim that both defendants Batros Basilio and Kokichi Ngiraingas “do not bear the chiefly titles Obaklechol and Aderkeroi” and were not properly seated during the 13th and 14th PSL. Their presence with other members-elect of the 14th PSL does not constitute a quorum of the 14th Peleliu State Legislature.
The plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment and an injunction against the defendants, stopping them from conducting sessions and taking any actions to represent the 14th PSL, declaring that all business conducted by defendants on January 1, 2022, is null and void.