Minister Charles Obichang of Public Infrastructure Industries and Commerce on Thursday asked the Palau Supreme Court to dismiss the opposition senators’ plea for the reversal of an earlier ruling which backed the administration’s non-disclosure of agreement terms related to the airport expansion.
Obichang said granting the senators’ motion could open the floodgate for a wave of “never-ending lawsuit.”
In a May 23 opposition to the motion for reconsideration filed by Obichang through the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), “there is manifest error warranting reconsideration or an amended judgment, no sound evidence upon which to challenge the final judgment.”
Senators Regis Akitaya, Camsek Chin, Rukebai Inabo, J. Uduch Senior and Mason Whipps challenged the court’s earlier judgment, which held that Obichang did not violate the Open Government Act as he had eventually made the questioned documents available even outside of the required 10-day period.
In their motion for reconsideration, the senators asked the court to reverse its earlier ruling citing that the request for the disclosure of documents was first made in 2017 and another request was made in January 2018.
In the June 11 response to Botching’s opposition, the senators said the documents,
despite the May 3 court ruling has not been produced and instead still being held by a protective legal barrier.
The senators said that the documents were only produced after a lawsuit was filed.
“There is a substantial risk that the Court’s finding may be interpreted to mean that so as long as there is production to, and perhaps even after, the filing of a complainant for a violation of the OGA, a government office will not be held accountable for its non-compliance,” the motion stated.
But Obichang said that the case was not about the 2017 request but whether the request made on January 2018 led to the violation of the OGA.
Obichang’s opposition also insisted that the documents were made available to the senators on numerous occasions.
The opposition also stated that it appears that the senators are trying to amend its cause of action and abandoning its earlier reason for their lawsuit.
Obichang said the court should not entertain the senators’ motion for reconsideration.
“And because amending a cause of action and prayer for relief and having a do-over because a judgment is adverse is a very bad precedent and makes for never-ending lawsuit, it is only appropriate for this Court to uphold its final judgment of May 3, 2018,” the motion stated. (Bernadette H. Carreon)