Yap Gov Henry Falan. Photo by Joyce McClure
Amid a pending lawsuit filed last week by the 10th Yap State Legislature, Gov. Henry S. Falan has issued a third declaration that extends the state of public health emergency on Yap in connection with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Falan issued the new declaration on June 1 as the Attorney General's Office prepares to respond to the legislature's lawsuit that challenged the governor's prior emergency directive.
In a petition filed May 20, the legislature is asking the Yap State Court to issue a declaratory judgement "on the interpretation of certain provisions of the Yap State Constitution.”
Speaker Vincent Figir filed the legal action after that legislative body revoked the second declaration on the grounds that the corresponding measures have "adequately addressed" the coronavirus-related emergency in Yap, thus "there was no basis for extending the declaration.”
The second declaration expired on May 27 and the new directive is retroactive to May 28.
The Federated States of Micronesia is among the 12 countries that remain coronavirus-free. FSM President David Panuelo has extended the nation's public health emergency through July 31
“It is critical that our border and port of entries continue to be locked and monitored very closely," Falan said. "The issuance of this third declaration is imperative given the ongoing threat of the pandemic in other countries.”
The declaration empowers the governor “to make decisions and exercise his discretion" in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, such as implementing measures relevant to quarantine, border, security, government, funding, business and economy, restrictions on movement, orders and directives and “other matters deemed necessary.”
As the lead agency, the Yap State Department of Health Services is coordinating the response to address the crisis, and the Yap Health Crisis Task Force is designated to work in conjunction with DHS in combating it. They are using the Yap Covid-19 Contingency Plan, the COVID-19 Yap State Action Plan, and the Yap State Emergency Response and Preparedness Plan to direct their initiatives.
The governor's new directive requires the agencies "to work together to promote public awareness about the crisis and preventive measures; conduct ongoing assessments of the crisis; provide regular updates to the state leadership on the status of the crisis; record the state resources used in response to the crisis; and other tasks as required to adequately respond to the crisis.”
The DHS and taskforce are also authorized by the declaration “to obtain technical and/or financial assistance from the public, private and non-profit sectors.”
According to the governor's office, the state constitution authorizes the governor to access state-appropriated funds to mitigate the crisis. “From the beginning of the pandemic to now,” Falan noted in the new declaration, “our state has been blessed with funding assistance from abroad and we have not had to use any state funding so far.”
The declaration also states that the “state government, agency and the taskforce may continue to receive and utilize funding assistance sourced from abroad, most especially the United States Office of Insular Affairs, through JEMCO, to combat the pandemic, from national, regional and international governments and organizations.”
In addition to outside funding, the DHS and Taskforce have applied for grants and received donations of lab equipment, test kits, personal protective equipment, oxygen tanks, respirators, ventilators and other important apparatuses through the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Embassy and other sources. Vendors are vetted with the CDC and WHO. Training and equipment setup are provided by the manufacturers and recommended consultants.
“The DHS and taskforce have been adamant in my meetings with them that we must maintain the emergency declaration. I have assured them that I will not open our borders or let down the guard in any other way until they tell me that they are ready," Falan said.
"I cannot adequately express my deep respect and admiration for the work they are doing to prevent, prepare and respond to this devastating disease on behalf of the people of Yap. They have my greatest admiration for their dedication and personal sacrifice in the face of this storm. We know how to deal with a typhoon, but this is a very different type of tempest that we have never experienced in our lifetime.”
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