Trial Court Associate Justice Materne issued a decision to reinstate the order barring burial of Ebil ra Otong Ereong Remeliik, minutes before Appellate Court order lifting the ban was to take effect on November 19.
Trial Court took no action on the Appellate Court’s order until November 19, 2019 when it issued its order at 4:25pm, few minutes before the end of the 30 day period. November 20 would have been the day the temporary injunction would have been ended and the funeral and burial would have been able to proceed.
“Because of the timing, we were not aware of the order. By the time we heard of it by a source who obtained a copy from the attorney of Paulus Ongalibang in Manila, the Court house have closed,” stated Appellee Blailes’s attorney.
On October 21, 2019, Appellate Court issued a stay of execution, an order lifting the ban that Trial Court had earlier issued preventing the funeral and burial of Ulimang highest ranking female chief, the Ebil ra Otong Ereong Remeliik on Otong clan properties. The Appellate Court’s order was to take affect 30 days after its issuance, giving the Trial Court the opportunity to correct its earlier decision.
In its decision to reinstate the temporary injunction order, Trial Court acknowledged Appellate Court’s order in which it stated that the Trial Court abused its discretion because it did not balance the harm caused to defendants as it did for the plaintiffs. Trial Court asserted though that at the hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction (motion to stop burial and funeral), none of the witnesses for defendants (Augustino Blailes faction) testified to” suffering any embarrassment or pain by indefinite delay in funeral services and burial on Otong clan lands.”
Trial Court admitted that counsel for defendants did say “Klou el metemall el mora chisel a mechas ma kebliil” in his closing remarks, but it insisted that that was a closing argument and not evidence and that Ereong Remeliik was not the defendant in the case.
Furthermore Associate Justice Materne, in the decision to reinstate the injunction, stated that burial on Otong clan properties was not the only way and that Ereong Remeliik’s funeral and burial can take place in Ngardmau, her “kotel” or where her roots are.
She said if the preliminary injunction is not granted, the Plaintiffs (Paulus Ongalibang faction) “rights and authorities over Clan properties will be violated.”
Appellees (Augustino Blailes faction) in a motion filed the next day, November 20th to reinstate Appellate Court’s Stay of Execution order (lifting the ban placed by trial court order), the Appellees claim that the Trial Court is clearly bias on this case.
Appellees claim that the case to determine the rightful bearer of Beches has not been resolved and is ongoing. They asserted that Trial Court is clearly biased because it’s order on this matter contradicts an order it issued on similar case. “The very same Trial Court declined to issue a TRO for an identical issue, instead stating in that case that the “court cannot say at this junction that plaintiff will suffer irreparable harm if burial takes place…there exists the remedy of digging up the body and putting back the stone platform back to its original form if the Plaintiff prevails at trial.”
“This controversy has been nothing more than a case study in Trial Division bias, exemplifying the ways in which the Trial Division is willing to stretch the facts of this case and applicable law to reach Plaintiff’s desired outcome,” alleged the Appellees in their motion.
This November 28 will be the third month that Ebil ra Otong Ereong Remeliik has remained at the morgue at the Belau National Hospital.
She passed away on August 28, 2019 and her funeral was set for September 21 but a faction fighting for the title of Beches led by Paulus Ongalibang and others filed and obtained a Temporary Injunction against the faction led by Augustino Blailes to bar funeral of Ebil ra Otong Ereong Remeliik at Bai ra Ulimang and her burial at odesongel ra Otong.
In granting the preliminary injunction to Plaintiffs Paulus Ongalibang and others, Trial Court stated that allowing the funeral and burial to occur on Otong clan lands will cause irreparable harm to Plaintiffs Ongalibang and party.
Appellees Augustino Blailes and his faction appealed the Trial Court order, requesting for a stay of execution, which would stop the ban imposed by the Trial Court’s preliminary injunction, saying that they should be allowed to hold the funeral and bury Ebil ra Otong Ereong Remeliik on the Otong clan properties until the ongoing trial on the question of who is Beches ra Otong is resolved. They offered that should the court rule against them, that they are willing to exhume the body and restore the property and pay monetary damages to the plaintiffs.
Appellate Court ruled in favor of Appellees Augustino Blailes and his party holding that the Trial Court “abused its discretion by failing to consider the embarrassment and pain caused to the defendants” and gave an order staying the execution of the Trial Court order but making that ruling effective 30 days after its issuance thereby giving the Trial Court time to reconsider the Appellee’s motion in light of the Appellate Court order.