Governor: The Fono is in my blood

Governor Lolo Moliga has told directors to continue to show respect for the Fono and to help lawmakers develop the legislative branch to become fully autonomous.

Despite stopping directors from attending House hearings within the last two weeks due to COVID-19, the governor said at Friday’s cabinet meeting he is full of respect and has a special affinity for the Fono.

He said this is because the Fono is in his blood. He has served in the House and the Senate, his father was a member of the House and his great grandfather was one of the founders of the Senate and his brother is a sitting member of the House.

Lolo said there are only a few families in the territory with three generations of service in the Fono .  And theirs is one of the small families to hold claim to that feat.  It’s common for a father and son to have served in the Fono, but not three generations said Lolo.

He referred to the recent House hearings wherein he informed the Speaker that directors will not be attending.  It was his opinion that the Fono should not be in session while the territory is under a health emergency, but the Fono leaders had a different opinion,” he said.

Nevertheless, it was important to maintain mutual respect with the legislative branch the governor advised.

He said most of the House members are new unlike their administration with many years of experience in government.

The governor then elaborated on the veto override issue saying that every locally elected governor: Coleman, Lutali, Tauese and now he, has been trying to erase remnants of the era of appointed palagi governors of which the veto override power is one.

He said all the authority was vested in the hands of the appointed governor and he and his predecessors have all tried to give the Fono the power to override legislative decisions by the governor.

But each time there’s been a referendum on the veto override, the people have voted it down.

He said this was a goal to be achieved to show the people that we can fully govern our own territory.

Lolo said issues that arise from time to time are easily discussed by picking up the phone and he’s maintaining open communication with the Fono leaders.

He told directors they should not pay attention to reports in the newspaper and on the radio.