Palau President visits Guam for JCM; will also meet with governor

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Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. (screenshot from the press conference, Office of the Palau President)

The Palau delegation’s visit to Guam this week could set a precedent for future travel between the two jurisdictions, according to Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr., who made the statement during a recent press conference. 

The President of Palau — who is now in Guam — will be attending the annual Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) with the federal government. 

After a one-year hiatus because of the pandemic, the JCM meeting will be held this week, starting May 10.

President Whipps Jr. said the trip to Guam, “in some ways is a trial run.” 

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Carlotta Leon Guerrero, Special Adviser on Military and Regional Affairs, also spoke with K57’s Arroyo Monday morning about the JCM meeting and confirmed that the Palau President will also have a separate meeting with Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero. 

“President Surangel Whipps Jr is going to be here for some meetings having to do with funding and infrastructure for Palau with the federal government. While he is here, I think he will take additional meetings. One of them being with the governor,” Leon Guerrero said.

She said that the regional leaders will probably talk about matters relating to the Micronesian Islands Forum. 

“I think it is a courtesy call. I can just imagine the number of things that they want to bring up — the President of Palau and the Governor of Guam are members of the Micronesian Island Forum and Palau is the secretariat of the Micronesian Island Forum. So we haven’t had a meeting in a year. So I’m sure that they are going to discuss what’s the next meeting would look like — if it is going to be a virtual meeting. Or if they can pull it off — where all the leaders can meet face to face and what type of items they want to put on that agenda

Leon Guerrero said the leaders usually talk about regional healthcare and tourism, invasive species, and other regional issues. 

Precautions 

During last week’s press conference, Gafaar Uherbelau, Ministry of Health EOC Deputy Incident Commander, answered inquiries from Palau media about the measures in place to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 into the community. 

He said, “the delegation will be under strict restriction of movement.”

Before returning to Palau, he said the delegation will get tested. There are no other passengers on the return flight except for the JCM delegation and a group who will be attending an ARFF training at Andersen Air Force Base.

“Everybody on the delegation is fully vaccinated — with two weeks since the second dose. At the same time, the return flight coming on will just be the delegation. There will be no mixing of travelers,” Uherbelau said.

President Whipps Jr. said the AAFB training is required to get Palau’s airport and fire staff certified.

“There are 8 of them going and they are going to train at the Air Force firefighting station and then they are also going back to that flight. We are following all of the procedures,” Whipps Jr. said.

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