Ngeribkal clan speaks up on Tiull land dispute
By Rhealyn C. Pojas
The Ngeribkal clan aired their side on the issue surrounding the 28-acre piece of ancestral land in Tiull, Ngerbeched in Koror State which they reacquired after decades of fighting for ownership after the Palau Court affirmed their appeal last November 2017.
They expressed that their fight for the right to claim the land cost them thousands of dollars which they appropriated for the attorney fees of four different lawyers, trips and transportation costs to the headquarter in Saipan, clan meetings and many other cost incurring issues.
Tiull, Ngerbeched landowners Diribkal Hiroko Sugiyama, Ngiribkal Milang Eberdong, and Kekerei el Techedib Timothy Ngirdimau of the Ngeribkal clan said during an interview with the Island Times that nobody from the land tenants consulted them about their concerns.
“They approached the State, the Senators and Congressmen and the media but none of them consulted us,” Sugiyama said.
The Ngeribkal clan clarified that there are currently 65 households residing in the parcel of land that they had reclaimed from the Koror State government and out of these, they exempted several senior citizens from paying the rent while majority of the tenants only have to pay a rental ranging from $200 to $500.
In fact, they said, there are only four whom they charged with a rental fee of $1,000 or more as they rooted commercial buildings in the property.
Sugiyama said that there were foreign investors and local realtors who wished to lease and develop the entire property for foreign businesses but Sugiyama said that they “turned them down since they feel very strongly that they should support Palauans (Ar Chad Ra Belau).”
“It’s totally unfair to us. With all these bad news, we’ve been the talk of the town. The wrong information about the Tiull land issues made us looked bad.”
Island Times reported on its previous issue that 39 homeowners in Tiull are facing possible eviction for if they refuse to pay for the bills imposed by the Ngeribkal clan to them. This prompted the clan to seek out the Island Times to air their side of the story.
One of the homeowners (name withheld to protect confidentiality) previously told the Island Times that she could not accept the situation that she now has to pay for rent over the house she had built for herself and her family.
The tenants complained after they received bills from the clan which are retroactive to October 15, 2015 – this means that tenants had to pay their back rent starting from the date.
The Ngeribkal clan said that they had been fighting for their ownership of the ancestral land since the early 1950s after they lost their claim on the property during the Japanese occupation and now that they had finally and legally reacquired it, the land tenants are opposing them.
“Our grandparents, the senior members of the Ngeribkal clan, had died fighting for the return of the ancestral land to us and they never had the chance to see the day that it was properly returned to the clan,” the clan expressed.
“We, the children and grandchildren of the Ngeribkal clan, assumed our birthright and responsibility. We continued the fight over our claim on the land and now that we have finally won the case, we are again beset by the tenant’s resistance,” they added.
The clan further expressed that if they do not pay the bills, they have every right to kick them out.
“Just look at those who have won their claims and have kicked out their tenants without fair compensation. We have some of them in Ngerbeched and other hamlets in Koror and we do not know why they do not make too much fuss about them nor did we hear them complained by going to the Koror State Government and talking to national congressmen,” they said.
The Ngeribkal clan further explained that they and their grandparents had been spending thousands of dollars for the legal procedures on the reacquisition of their ancestral domain and at the same time, they added, the Koror State had been making money out of the property and hasn’t given them any money from it.
As of press time, the clan said that no one from the tenants had paid the bills yet and no one has also attempted to talk to them and arrange payment.
Island Times previously reported that many of the homeowners in Tiull in the early 1950s had moved from other States to Koror and leased portions of this land from the Trust Territory government. The Trust Territory government then transferred the land to Koror State government which continued to lease the lands to applicants. [/restrict]