President Surangel Whipps Jr. has terminated three (3) Palau Public Land Authority Board members after they refused to submit their courtesy resignations. The three board members terminated were Debed Luii, Sakai Ngirchokebai and Madraisau Sulial. Three who submitted resignations instead of being terminated were former governor of Ngchesar and Chairman of PPLA Board Florencio Adelbai, former Senator Paul Ueki and former Delegate of Ngatpang Jerry Nabeyama.
PPLA Board and President Whipps expressed opposing opinions on the PPLA Board’s decision to lease lots in Ngebudel area of Airai to private persons. The area, according to President Whipps, was purchased for the purpose of supporting airport operations. President Whipps had earlier expressed that this decision by the PPLA Board was wrong while PPLA board contends that it was not illegal and that based on their legal counsel’s opinion, the areas leased were not in the exclusive area designated for use of US military and that United States government was properly notified regarding the use the joint use area as housing site for displaced Palauans.
At this week’s press conference, President Whipps reiterated that he believes that the decision made was wrong, not illegal but wrong. The lands he said, were purchased specifically to support operations of the airport.
President Whipps said that he had asked PPLA board to submit their courtesy resignations and only 3 submitted their resignations. He confirmed that he did terminate the three that did not submit courtesy resignations.
Palau public law 35 PNC that created Palau Public Land Authority, Section 205, states that members can be removed from the Board by 2/3 majority of members. Members could be removed for “inability to serve, neglect, misconduct or gross inefficiency in office” but only by majority of the PPLA Board members. It does not provide for removal by the President.