September 8, 2016
Dear Editor – Island Times,
Tia Belau on 9/5/16 and Island Times on 9/6/16, both raised the issue of and concern about my absence from Palau from Friday – Monday (9/2-5/16). This period as you know was a long weekend where Monday was a holiday so Friday was the only day of government work.
The two local papers raised the issue as to whether there was a breach of constitutional or legal requirement for leaving Palau when the President goes off island and purport to delegate authority to the Vice President to “act on (his) behalf pursuant to the Constitution and Laws of the Republic of Palau”. The President’s trip was stated to be “official” and yet included the 3- days campaign rallies he held in Guam and Saipan on 9/2-5/16 accompanied by Minister Charles Obichang and Minister Baklai Temengil (see attached standard Delegation of Authority, President repetitiously issues when he goes on off-island trips). Note that the controversy arose because I went to the two locations holding campaign rallies at the same period of time, except on my own private expenses.
As you should know, there are no standing constitutional or legal requirements that mandate me as the Vice President to perform certain tasks for the President when he is off-island.
Furthermore, the delegation of authority to act on President’s behalf is discretionary and is basically nulled in itself and rendered meaningless every time because the functional authorities are always specifically withheld and/or assigned to the Chief of Staff. As we all know, the President is always the President whether on or off-island; and, as has always been directed each time in his memo, he “ will be accessible at all times, by email and phone for all immediate matters requiring (his) attention and approval through (his) Executive Secretary”.
Anyway, the two functional authorities that matter if I were to get to act when the President is off island are: 1) – matters related to Personnel and Human Resources (ie., contracts, personnel actions and vacancy announcements) which this President has always withheld to himself since becoming President in spite of the standing Executive Order from the past that delegates management authority to ministers, and 2) – signing off on purchase orders and other financial authorizations restricted to himself since becoming President that he has always delegated to Chief of Staff.
The first authority he has withheld to himself since becoming President is personnel actions and employment contracts which he has regularly and did order this time again “held in abeyance
until (his) return”. The second authority is the authority to signing off on purchase orders and other financial authorizations that he always delegates to his Chief of Staff. What then is the practical management action left requiring the presence of the Vice President?
Nothing – that is why the President’s letter purported to delegate authority to the Vice President really delegates nothing.
What you have misquoted is the order of succession when the President dies or becomes incapacitated, which is not the same as delegating authority for travelling off-island. (Vice President Antonio Bells) [/restrict]