By Joyce McClure
The 10th Yap State Legislature failed to muster the required vote to remove Gov. Henry Falan from office.
During their regular session on Oct. 19, seven legislators voted for and three against the resolution seeking to oust Falan.
By law, 75 percent is required to pass a vote, or eight of the 10 members.
The three senators voting against the resolution to remove Falan from office for misfeasance and malfeasance in office were Theodore Rutun, Nicholas Figirlaarwon and Joseph B. Tiuchemal.
“I think it is true facts that we are trying to make sure the system is working,” said Figirlaarwon. “I think it’s proven to us that the system is okay. It’s just that we, the people working within the system, need to understand the system.”
“The way I vote…is not that I want the state to separate or divide,” Figirlaarwon said after the vote was taken. “I want us to work together with the understanding that we have a system to follow. We want [the] governor to make sure that he follows the law. But we need to give each other the room for discussion and we need readily to discuss what needs to be done, not so much to our compromise, but we need to discuss what is good for the state.”
“I’m not saying the governor should not be punished,” Rutun said, “I’m just wondering if this is the right punishment for the offense that has been committed.”
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The resolution was signed by seven co-sponsors on Sept. 23 in response to Falan’s Sept. 16 executive order to close the attorney general’s office due to the reluctance of the legislature to approve the salaries of the state’s only two attorneys that resulted from a budget shortfall.
The governor expressed concern that the state could be liable for human trafficking since the two men, who are foreign nationals, had not been paid for two and half months.
Falan re-opened the AG’s office six days later on Sept. 22 as part of an emergency declaration requiring all offices to be open and on alert.
When asked what his intention was in submitting the resolution for Falan’s removal from office, Speaker Vincent Figir responded, “The intent was to make sure that nobody was out of bound.”
“The issue of check and balance is for this branch of government to make sure that whatever the other branches are doing [is] not to be consistent with that," he said.
"That is the responsibility of this body. How many times [has] this law has been broken and we give an excuse for that? How many? That is not our responsibility. Our responsibility is one pretty simple one. That is to make sure that the constitution and the law of the State of Yap are upheld,” Figir added.
Sen. John Masiwemai expressed disappointment at the outcome of the proceedings.
“I feel like from now on we can break the rule. It’s very simple. The resolution is very simple. If he broke the rule, he should pay the consequence," said the chair of the Committee of the Whole, which oversaw the proceedings.
“It’s very straightforward in the constitution,” Masiwemai added. “It says when you do this, this is the consequence regardless if it’s the governor or anybody.”
Figir ended the session by saying, “Those who voted ‘no’ today, you were not upholding the constitution today.”