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  • By Ongerung Kambes Kesolei &

Palau senators raise more questions on airport project

Koror- While Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. said that the multi million airport expansion project is well underway, members of the Senate minority bloc raises more questions on Tuesday by asking the court to review the airport documents.

The opposition senators alleged in their motion before the court ,that the documents reviewed held by the Senate legal counsel pro tem appear to have material differences with the draft airport documents presented to the Senate for approval in May 2017.

The minority senators want the documents produced by the defendant –Public Infrastructure, Industries, and Commerce Minister Charles Obichang on January 25, 2018, to be evaluated against previous versions of the airport documents presented to Congress in May 2017.

Sen. J. Uduch Senior, one of the plaintiffs said the signed agreements if proven different from the one presented to Congress may be rendered “invalid and void.

”“If signed versions do not match or are materially different from the draft then that means that the signed agreements are invalid and void,” Senior said in her affidavit.

The draft document was the basis for earlier Congress approval for the administration to proceed with the negotiations to expand the Palau airport with Sojitz Corporation and Jatco through a first public private partnership venture.

Sens. Senior and Rukebai K. Inabo filed separate affidavits as part of the motion both alleging that a “cursory review at Mr. Nakamura’s office, I observed that there appeared to be differences between the version of the document that had been produced by the Defendant in this matter and my recollection of previous versions of the document that I had seen.”“With this motion, we are asking the Court (in camera) - meaning the documents will be under seal - and not open to the public - to review the signed agreement and to compare it to the draft agreements,”

Sen. Uduch Senior said in response to an email inquiry .in their petition, Civil Action No. 18-025, the senators hoped that if it is found that there are material differences, it would bolster their case for reconsideration.

The senators are asking the court to reverse its earlier judgment that said that Obichang did not violate the Open Government Act as he had eventually made the questioned documents available even outside of the required 10-day period.

“If these differences are, indeed, material, this would bolster the Plaintiffs’ argument that these documents a had not been produced prior to their January 8, 2018 letter,” said the senators’ motion.

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