Senator Rukebai Inabo said that there is no politics involved in the recent rescue of a boy and man from Sonsorol in response to the statement made by Vice President and Justice Minister Raynold Oilouch to the press that the incident should not be politicized.
It was Senator Inabo who broke the news of the rescue on a social media platform on March 9, expressing appreciation to Senator Ngirchechebangel Mason Whipps and Surangel Whipps Jr. for providing their boats to conduct the rescue after the Marine Law Office failed to respond to the request for assistance due to mechanical problems.
Surangel Whipps Jr. previously ran for the presidential post in the November 2016 national election but lost to his brother-in-law, President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. while Ngirchechebangel Mason Whipps is currently serving as a Senator.
“Heroes have to make news so they can feel appreciated for the help they courageously provide to our people. I am not sure the Sonsorol rescue effort has become political. What I know is, our government has to be held accountable to our people. Our government must explain when there are any deficiencies in public service. No politics, only accountability to the people we serve,” Senator Inabo told Island Times in a message.
Meanwhile, Vice President Oilouch expressed in a separate interview that he is disappointed that the recent rescue of a boy from Sonsorol State had turned into a ‘political thing’.
In an interview, Oilouch said that if others are really serious about providing support and rescuing injured person in the Southwest Islands, then it should not be politicized.
“There is no point in providing the help when your goal or intentions are all for political gains. I don’t work like that. For the ministry, everything is tasked to help the people wherever they are,” Oilouch said, maintaining his position that it was just unfortunate that the rescue was not carried out because the patrol boats were experiencing mechanical problems.
Oilouch said that in the past, there had been situations when the patrol boats were not available due to repair and surveillance operations but people had come together to help each other in finding alternative mode of transportation to the Southwest island.
“This has been done before and I think, I hope through that coordination and cooperation, all the parties concerned, I think we can always come up with better outcome that is beneficial to all,” Oilouch said.
When asked by Island Times that the Marine law office reasoning out that what hampered them from doing the rescue was due to mechanical problems posed an issue regarding the quality of the boats that Palau has, Oilouch said that it was not a surprise that the boats will have mechanical issues and that it was just ‘unfortunate’ that it occurred when someone was needing help from the Southwest Island.
Oilouch explained that the Australian-funded vessel, PSS Remeliik, had been in the hands of Palau for almost 20 years and that it is in fact set to be replaced with a new and larger vessel from the Australian government come 2020.
“We must understand, so many years, it has done a great service to Palau. It has done so much patrol work in Palau and in fact recently, it has been very active in the waters because we have drastically increase the surveillance and patrolling in our waters,” Oilouch said.
As for the Nippon Foundation and Sasakawa Peace Foundation-donated vessel, PSS Kedam, which was just handed over by the Japanese organizations last year, Oilouch said that even though it is brand new, no one has control over its unexpected damage and problems.
Palau’s next national elections will be in 2020. So far, only Senator Uduch Senior has just publicly declared intention to run for the Vice President post. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)