November 24, 2016 (Koror) Speaker Sabino Anastacio, on a phone interview, refutes statements made by Senator Camsek Chin and Senator Uduch Sengebau-Senior stating that the “Land Court is now closed indefinitely.”
“The Senators are wrong. The Land Court bill is not dead. We only rejected the CD1 report, not the body of the bill,” asserted Speaker Anastacio. “The Committees can re-convene to discuss the bill again, and we can have CD2 – Committee draft report 2 to address again,” he added.
According to Speaker Anastacio, the House cannot address the body of the bill but the Conference Committee can still re-convene and address again the changes and come up with CD2 for both houses to adopt.
The disagreement continues over the proposed bill to restore full functions of Land Court and remove the deadline imposed on the Land Court to complete its land hearing and adjudications by certain time.
The House of Delegates added on to the bill riders to re-open public land claims, allow dismissed claims and address third party interests on lease holds.
The House rejected the SB 9-188,SD1, HD1, CD1 because of the removal of the riders they inserted. Speaker Anastacio in earlier interview said that they want to improve land return policy as well as the displaced individuals to be affected by land return. “This will address the return of land to rightful owners but also protect lessees from being displaced immediately when land returns to rightful owners.”
Senator Uduch Senior and other senators feel that these can be addressed in a separate bill and that the Land Court must be restored to its full functions due to pending claims before it that need to be resolved. They also argue that non-functioning Land Court is not only costing the government but also costing individuals who have been waiting for their properties to be adjudicated. “Who will benefit from their position in closing the Land Court?” questioned Senator Senior. [/restrict]