Governor Lolo Moliga is not happy that the Fono has reconvened without his knowledge.
He says so in a May 13 letter in response to correspondence from the House Speaker seeking an explanation as to why directors did not appear at House hearings scheduled for this week.
Lolo writes, “Your decision to reopen the Legislative Branch without extending the courtesy to discuss it with me defies leadership protocols, cooperation and support. The message that is being projected to the community by the Legislature’s unilateral decision to resume its activities in the midst of the emergency declaration extremely undermines the integrity of the actions we are taking to protect the lives of our people.
“The emergency declaration is designed to protect all of us and it demands individual responsibility, particularly our leaders, to take personal ownership of this deadly pandemic.”
According to the governor he has not seen pressing agenda issues which would justify resumption of the Fono while the health emergency is in effect.
“I would have recommended to suspend the reopening of the Fono to the end of the existing 4th amended declaration,” he said.
The governor elaborates that “scientists and health experts are forecasting second and third wave of coronavirus infection, so the probability is still very high that we will have a confirmed case down the line if we laxed our vigilance and diligence.”
He points out we don’t have enough test kits for COVID-19 tests, the hospital doesn’t have enough beds and already is at 60% occupancy, “so clearly if an outbreak is to occur, LBJ will be overwhelmed”… and there will be more deaths.
Lolo told the Speaker, “We are in a health emergency situation, thus if the Legislature elects to exempt itself from this declared emergency status, the executive branch cannot defy its own emergency restrictions aimed at saving the lives of our people. Moreover, the directors are currently overwhelmed and overburdened by the additional COVID-19 related duties and responsibilities…”
He said while the COVID-19 pandemic has taken up the majority of directors time there are so many government projects which need to be started and completed and its his intention to complete them before he leaves office.
“The directors are therefore being instructed to apply equal focus on the completion of these projects which will improve social and economic benefits for the years to come.”
Lolo said that he would revisit the Speaker’s request when the current declaration ends May 31st.
Meanwhile four appointees of the governor did show up on Monday for confirmation hearings in the Senate.
Acting Attorney General-Mitzie Jessop-Taase, Director of Human Resources- Eseneiaso Liu , Deputy Director of Education- Faaui Vaitautolu along with former Director of Administrative Services Malaepule Lua Moliga.
The Acting AG was confirmed for the ASEDA Board and the other three to the Board of the Development Bank of American Samoa.
On Tuesday, both the House and Senate approved a Senate Concurrent Resolution introduced by Senate President Gaoteote Palaie Tofau , to adjourn the legislative session until June 8th.