Yap AG’s office shut down; Falan suspects political motives

By Joyce McClure

From left, Yap. Lt. Gov. Jesse Salalu, Gov. Henry Falan, Associate Justice Jesse Torwan, Asst. Attorneys General Eliesa Tuiloma and Tevita Muloilagi. Photo courtesy of YAP AGO

Yap Gov. Henry Falan has issued an executive order directing the temporary closure of the attorney general’s office partly due to the Yap State Legislature’s failure to authorize funds for salaries of the state’s only two attorneys.

The two lawyers have not been paid since July 4.

A complete government shutdown in Yap was avoided once during the current fiscal year, but a shutdown of the attorney general’s office was finally deemed unavoidable, said Falan.

He issued the executive order on Sept.16.

“I was forced to take this drastic step and shut down the AG’s office,” Falan said, “to avoid the Yap State government from being liable for a potential charge of human trafficking and abuse of constitutional rights because the attorney general and assistant attorney general are foreign citizens.”

“In addition, this unavoidable action leaves the state without legal counsel,” he said. “Neither I nor my administration can operate without our only two lawyers.”

At the beginning of FY2021 last Oct. 1, the legislature removed the budget for all vacancies across all departments, including the AG’s office.

On March 5, Falan sent a supplemental budget request for FY2021 to Speaker Vincent Figir in the amount of $556,250 to cover the resulting shortfall.