By: L.N. Reklai

February 2, 2017 (Koror, Palau) Civil action suit no. 12-031 against former President Johnson Toribiong was dismissed without prejudice. The case challenged the constitutionality of his Declaration of a State of Emergency after IPSECO power plant in Aimeliik burned down in November of 2012.

The case was filed by private citizen Mr. Alan Seid.  According to Mr. Seid, the case has been pending for five years and there no longer exist any need to prolong the litigation.

The case was initially filed in order to have the Supreme Court interpret the constitutional scope of Presidential authority to declare State of Emergency.

Mr. Seid argued that the “extraordinary presidential power should not be allowed to be exercised where an emergency occurs by human error” and that it must be exercised “sparingly”.

He further argued that the fire that destroyed IPSECO power plant in Aimeliik was not caused by natural disaster as defined by the Constitution.

Former President Johnson Toribiong agreed to the dismissal of the case but he had contested earlier that his declaration was constitutional since it was unanimously approved by the 8th Olbiil Era Kelulau, and a disaster need not be qualified by its causes, whether man-made or natural, since the Palauan version of the Constitution controls in case of conflict with the English version.

In the press release, Mr. Seid expressed that the his case showcased the “freedom of citizens of Palau to respect the integrity of the Constitution and to take action to protect it.” In the same paper, it states that former President advocates the position that public officials sworn to protect the Constitution should respect the right of citizens to challenge the constitutionality of their actions. [/restrict]