By: Eoghan Olkeriil Ngirudelsang
Persons ages 21 to 50 years old will be required get a permit before purchasing any alcoholic beverage if House bill 11-6-1 is passed into law. Under the proposed bill, only tourists are exempted from this requirement.
This permit will cost $60.00 and will be renewed every year. Any store or establishment that sells alcoholic beverage to anyone without a permit will be fined $300 and have its license to sell alcohol suspended for 10 days. Any person found buying alcohol without this permit will be fined $300.
The reason for this bill according to legislative findings is to “monitor alcohol consumptions and mitigate alcohol related incidents to better protect our citizens and their property from harm”.
“Palau has seen a rise of car accidents due to drunk driving as well as alcohol related domestic violence; permits will make it easier for police officers to monitor those who buy these alcoholic drinks” stated Delegate Masasinge Arurang, one of the introducers of the bill. Delegate Warren Umetaro, another introducer said that such permits shall be made to be included in people’s driving licenses. Delegate Noah Kemesong, not an introducer, suggested that pre-made permits be created and distributed to all hotels to accommodate tourists and that only the court will have the right to revoke such a permit if need be.
The bill garnered support from many delegates who were in session; however a few recommendations were also voiced out. Sonsorol Delegate Gibbons Jr. commented that this permit should be made a requirement when entering a bar and should be required for all ages including those who are over 50 years old.
While this bill is applauded by some people for its benefits, it also received negative comments from the public. A short video clip of the House of Delegates’ session when this proposal was made has gone viral this past few days with many sharing it on social media platforms.
The bill was introduced by Del. Masasinge Arurang and Co- Introducers namely Delegates: Sabino Anastacio, Lucio Ngiraiwet, Gibson Kanai, Furutoso Tellei, Timothy Sinsak, Nace Soalablai, Mengkur Rechellulk, Sebastian Marino, Yutaka Gibbons Jr., Swenny Ongidobel, Mario Gulibert, Warren Umetaro and Delegate Victoria Ngiratkakl-Kainai. This proposal passed the first reading and was assigned to judiciary and governmental affairs committee chaired by Del. Ongidobel.