< Helen Reef Ownership Public Meeting - August 20, 1999





DATE  :  AUGUST  20, 1999



The Public Meeting regarding Helen Reef Ownership was held by Governor, Crispin Emilio with the Tobian people living here in Koror on August 20, 1999 in the E-ang Bai.


There were lots of Tobian people present at the meeting.  The older people and also some of the youngsters were there too.  Among the elders, were Margarita Kutment Damiano, Domiciano Andrew, Isauro Andrew, Keturdis  Lorenso and Patris Tahemaremaho and Obita Victor.


The meeting begins at  6:30 p.m., by the Governor thanking the people for coming to the meeting and go on to informing them what the meeting was all about.


He stated that the purpose of the meeting was for each individual to identify their knowledge whether the Island "Hotsarihie" (Helen Reef) was owned by individual, some people, Clan  or all Tobians.  He then asked if Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) is owned by whom? 


Mrs.  Margarita Damiano pointed out that Hotsarihie (Helen  Reef) is owned by all Tobian.


The Governor then advised the people not to argue on the point, let each person say what he knows and what he/she wanted the public to know concerning the point.  He added for them to raise their hand in order for them to given the chance to talk.


Mr.  Patris Tahemaremaho stated that he was the one who negotiated for Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) from a clan member in the 1950.  He was the one who took the hand of the owner _____inaudible_______ and  made the negotiation with the ship captain by the name of ______inaudible ______That was the time he Patris found that there was a bad intention regarding Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) that some people were trying to do.  He stated that he was the one who make Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) to belong to Hatohobei (Tobi).  He added that its because of the of the the person he negotiated with told that they can't own Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) for they don't have a  ship to go on for they can't paddle on a canoe.  So the person gave to the person who wanted to negotiate the island to prepared a document for it, then when its done, the island Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) goes to the Government.  He added that by that time, Mr. Kalisto was a Hatohobei (Tobi) Magistrate.  He added that he Patris gave it to Mr. Kalisto and Kalisto wrote a note to Tobi for the Chief to come and when the Chief came, the person said that the person he brought has no name in the paper and he Patris agreed for the person he brought started in 1947.


The Governor then asked if this transition happened in 1950's, what about before that time?


Mr.  Patris Tahemaremaho replied that before 1950's  as 1947,  Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) was included as the island of Palau, as well as Tobi, they have Representative, they were Mr. Kalisto and the Chief.


The Governor asked again if Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) was owned by whom before the 1950, since the claim was made 1950.


Mr. Patris Tahemaremaho then stated that he can't say for there wasn't any government or work down there, and there was no ship to go to Hotsarihie (Helen Reef).

 The Governor asked Mr. Patris how did he knew that Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) was owned by the people he said they owned Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) when they don't know about it before the year 1947.


Mr.  Patris denied that he did not claim  it in the 1947, for  the person gave it to him.


The Governor then indicated what Mr. Tahemaremaho said  that starting 1947,  that was the time there's ownership of Hotsarihie (Helen Reef), what about the years before that, who was the owner of Hotsarihie (Helen Reef).


 Mr. Tahemaremaho, Patris replied that ownership of Hotsarihie (Helen Reef)  started long time agoe did not mentioned the names.


      NOTE:  To much argument can't pick point.


Mrs. Rosa Andrew stated according to her knowledge since her father was one of the elders among the Tobian elders, her adopted father told the story of Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) that the founder of Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) was a Tobian named Manimaiyouh and he was the one who went there and brought some trochus to Hatohobei (Tobi) for his own family, but he did not mentioned that Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) was owned by him or his family or anybody.  She added that even during the Japanese time when the Japanese Government wanted to make business on Hotsarihie (Helen Reef), all the people of Hatohobei (Tobi) and the Chief, they gathered together and have a meeting concerning the Japanese Government business to be held on Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) and the people went there to work and there was nobody among the people stopping anybody from going there or claiming that the island was his or her own.  She added that even the clans in Hatohobei (Tobi), there was no clan members stood up and claimed that Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) was owned by any clans like Haworobuh, Hapeimohor or Hafaramau clans in Hatohobei (Tobi), its because the island Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) is belonged to all the Tobian as a part of Hatohobei (Tobi).


Mr. Patris denied everybodys comment that they were lying, for Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) was owned by a clan in Hatohobei (Tobi), but the talks of Manimaiyouh was a lie.  He added that his own father went to Helen Reef too and came back with some others and they knew about Hotsarihie (Helen Reef), they also brought things from the island and gave to the clan members. 


The Governor asked if the person who gave Helen Reef to Mr. Patris before Patris gave it to the Government is still alive.


Mr. Patris stated that he brought the person to the Captain and the Captain said to him that he will not bring the person he brought for he has no name in the paper.   Mr. Patris then talked about a picture of Kalisto and Chief Marino that he have.  He go on and on telling some stories not really related to the question of Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) ownership.


Mrs. Sisma Ngiralbong reminded Mr. Patris Tahemaremaho not to tell story, but to identify the owner of Hotsarihie (Helen Reef).


Mr. Isauro Andrew stated that he still have no comment for he still don't understand what they were talking about, whether the ownership of the island of Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) or the work done on the island during the time.  He suggested that if there's anybody who knew about the owner of Hotsarihie (Helen Reef), then they will raise their voice to identify.


The Governor restated Isauro's point that if anybody present at this time during the meeting who knows about the ownership of Helen Reef or who thinks that he owned Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) then stated it and state where it comes from and he owns it.


Mr. Patris stated that it belonged to the clan and Mr. Faustino.


People asked who gave it to Faustino, but Mr. Patris did not say who.  He go on saying that he saw the things, foods that were brought from Helen Reef. 


NOTE: Too much arguements, can't copy Mr. Patris.


The Governor clarified for Mr. Patris the public comment and concerned that they wanted where and whom the ownership of Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) was transferred from and to whom.


Mr. Patris T.  then stated that if he knew their point, he would bring his document for Hotsarihie (Helen Reef), he then stated that he will leave for his has things to do.


The Governor thank him for coming.


The Governor clarified for everyone that according to Mr. Patris Tahemaremaho's point, he said that Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) was owned by a Clan in Hatohobei (Tobi) then transferred to Mr. Faustino then himself.  The Governor added that if anyone has a comment on what Mr. Patris had said, say so.


Mrs. Margarita Damiano denied Mr. Patris Tahemaremaho's statements and stated that there were men from Hatohobei (Tobi) went to Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) and plant some trees, came back to Tobi and did not claimed Helen Reef as his own and so do Manimaiyouh who went there and brought some clam, for Hotsarihie (Helen reef) was a part of Hatohobei (Tobi) owned by the people of (Tobi).


The Governor then asked if it means that Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) is owned by all the people of Hatohobei (Tobi).


Mrs. Margarita Damiano agreed.


Mr. Domiciano Andrew stated that he had heard from the elders of Hatohobei (Tobi) before the same story of Manimaiyouh that he went to Helen Reef and brought back some big clams for his family needs, but did not claim Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) for himself and his family, for Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) belonged to the clan of Hatohobei according to the custom of Hatohobei, which is the matrilineage  clan.   He added that Mr. Peter Black the has the story of Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) from the elders of Hatohobei.


The Governor then asked regarding the Hatohobei custom that was stated by Mr. Domiciano Andrew that Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) belonged to the female clan of Hatohobei, what about male clan members.


Mr. Domiciano Andrew stated that Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) belonged to all the people of Tobi, according to the custom which is the mother side of the clan, but it also included the fathers side clan too.


The Governor then clarified that it means Helen Reef belonged to all the people of Hatohobei.


Mr. Domiciano agreed.


Everybody applauded.


Mr. Isauro Andrew then stated that he has nothing to say concerning the ownership of Helen Reef for he knew for a long time that Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) belonged to Hatohobei, but until now, he was so surprised to hear that Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) was owned by someone, by Mr. Faustino then Patris.  He suggested that he wanted to hear from those people that they claimed Helen Reef as their own to explain how they owned it and from whom they got it from.


Mr.  Sabino Sackarias inquired why did they talked about who owned Helen Reef, was there any claim that has t Land Claim Office concerning the ownership of Helen Reef or just a rumor that they heard that someone has claimed Helen Reef as their own.


Mr.  Sino Samuel who worked for Land Claim Office stated that no one has filed a claim for Helen Reef.


Mr.  Sabino Sackarias then asked then why did they argued about it when probably someone just pretended that he owned it.  He added that in the case, they shouldn't talk about it for they will probably create some nonesense out of it.


The Governor then stated that the reason he called the meeting about the matter was that someone has approached him  and asked him about it for there was a rumor around that there was someone claimed Helen Reef as his own during a public meeting at Itap when he the Governor was in Hawaii considering the projects that this Americans are working on.  He added that he heard that Mr. Patris Tahemaremaho was the one who claimed Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) as his own during the meeting at Itap and that some people went against him.  But later on the second time the American who are working on the project that meant for Helen Reef, he was called at the office by phone by Mr. Patris Tahemaremaho telling him that the State should take permission from him Patris in order to go down to Helen Reef to work on the project, for Helen Reef was his own, the State can't take the project down there without his permission.  The Governor continued and said that the reason he again called a meeting was to solve the problem, for the last meeting held here in the Bai was about the project that meant to be carry out on Helen Reef and that the project will go on and on and the State will spend a  lot of money on the project and that if there is a problem concerning Helen Reef among the people of Hatohobei, probably by the middle of the on going project, the project might stop and that the money spent for the project will be wasted for nothing and the project will be not be accomplished.  He pointed out that he was not the one who hold the wheel of the project that will be held on Helen Reef, not the people who will work on the project, not the State, its all the people of Tobi are the ones controlling the project for if the people wanted the project to work on Helen Reef, then the project will work, and if not then the project won't be there.  He then asked the people who were present if they believe what Mr.  Patris Tahemaremaho's claim that Helen Reef was his own.


All the people present at the meeting all said they don't believe.


Mr. Isauro Andrew agreed with the Governor concerning the project designed  for Helen Reef that in the case that some people has claimed the island as their own, it is better to solve the problem first rather than continue with the project and later on the problem of ownership arise again and it might destroy the project plan and the State had  already spent too much money on it.  He then suggested that since the person who claimed ownership of Helen Reef was not present at the meeting, let them have the meeting another time to wait for the claimant to be present, so they can discuss the problem again and they can ask the claimant all their questions they have in mind, so they will all know how the person got to be the ownership of Helen Reef and where he got it.


Mr.  Sabino Sackarias suggested to ask each one of the Tobian present their opinion concerning the ownership of Helen Reef so they will know the result how many agreed with Mr. Patris Tahemaremaho as he claimed ownership and how many doesn't agreed to it, so probably they can discuss the matter between each other nicely and with more understanding, in order for the project to continue for the project is not a benefit to one person, but to all the people of Hatohobei (Tobi).


Mr. Huan Hosei suggested to ask Mr. Sino Samuel since he worked for the Land Claim Office what process they will do to make a claim for Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) to be owned by all the people of Hatohobei, so in the case, it can be filed and it can go to the court and they can have a case as one person against the public.  He added that he  was tallking about a legal procedure.


The Governor then agreed with Mr. Hosei and stated that since its a legal procedure, they can see the Lawyer about it.  He then stated that since only some of the people present at the meeting has stated their opinions  concerning the matter of ownership of Helen Reef, he again suggested for everyone present who haven't stated their opinion to state their opinios so he will know and that he is also recording a tape for each one's opinion for a later time he will gather  all the informations and call Mr. Patris Tahemaremaho to meet with him and share the public opinions with him and see what Mr. Patris opinion will be.


Delegate Thomas Patris stated that what they did was not really worth it for the public to listen to a complained by one person only.  He clarified  that First, there shouldn't be anybody to claim Helen Reef as his own for according to the Hatohobei State Constitution, Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) is a part of Hatohobei State, not owned by anybody, and Second, the Constitution was signed and approved by all Tobians and there was not a soul stood up and disagreed that Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) was not a part of Hatohobei, but for himselve.  He added that in the whole Republic of Palau Constitution, it also stated that all islands, reef, submerged reef belongs to the State close to it.  He added that the Hatohobei State Constitution was passed by ballot vote of Hatohobei that Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) belongs to Hatohobei State, not owned by anybody.  


The Governor agreed with Delegate Thomas Patris and stated that the Constitution stated that Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) is a territory of Hatohobei, but in some other way, anybody can file a claim.  He added that that was the reason he called the meeting to try to solve that problem before it gets out of hand as if some people did not agree to what the others said, they are the ones who will destroy the project on Helen Reef if they keep on complaining at the side.  He added that it is better to solve the problem so that everyone will have same opinion so when the project continue, there will be no problem with the people.  He added that the purpose of the meeting is to get opinions and clear everyones mind including Mr. Patris, so they don't have to vote on the matter.  He then asked if anybody still have any opinion to state.


Mr.  Isauro Andrew  stated that since Delegate Thomas Patris has clarified two points concerning Hotsarihie (Helen Reef), that stated in the Hatohobei State Constitution that we should follow and in the Republic Constitution and that he Isauro agree with it.  He added that he also knew that Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) was not owned by someone, for since he was still small a young boy, he haven't heard from the elders that Helen Reef belongs to somebody, but a part of Hatohobei.  He added that during the Japanese government, people of Hatohobei went to Helen Reef to work and came back to Tobi, but he never heard of anybody taking permission to go to Helen Reef from any one who claimed Helen Reef as his own.  He added that he only knew that before the people went to Helen Reef to work, all the people of Hatohobei and the Chief met and discuss about the work they were going to do on Helen Reef and after that, they went.  But when they return, he did not hear if they paid anything to an owner of Helen Reef for working on Helen Reef.


Delegate Thomas Patris suggested to the Governor to shorten the meeting time, try to give others time to state their opinions, rather than only one person takes too long to state his/her opinion.


The Governor then asked each one of the presented Tobians who haven't stated their opinion to state it.


Mrs. Regina Andrew stated that all she have heard and knew is that the island Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) is owned by all Tobians.


Mrs. Keturdis Lorenso stated that Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) belongs to the people of Hatohobei, there is no clan or anybody that will claim that Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) belongs to him/her.


Mrs. Obita Victor stated the same opinion as Helen Reef belongs to Hatohobei people.


Mrs. Maria Bismark also stated the same opinion as Helen Reef belongs to the people of Hatohobei.


Mrs. Elizabeth  K. Petrus stated that since when she was still a little girl until now, she knew that Helen Reef belongs to Hatohobei.  She also added that there was a time the State held a public meeting in Long Shoremen's Inn concerning land survey on Hatohobei and she also heard some comment stated for Helen Reef, but no one said that Helen Reef is owned by someone.  She pointed out that during that meeting, Mr. Patris Tahemaremaho was sitting right next to her and he did not even said a word claiming Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) as his own.


Mrs. Sisma Ngiralbong then asked those clan members of Hapeimohor if they ever heard from the elders of the clan if Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) was owned by the clan members.


Some of the Clan members of Hapeimohor  replied "No they don't."


Mrs. Emiliana Marcello also stated that since the time she went and stayed on Tobi until then, as of now, she never heard that Hotsarihie (Helen Reef) is owned by someone, but all she heard was that Helen Reef belonged to Hatohobei.


The Governor stated that since they already know each and everyone's opinion concerning Helen Reef as a part of Hatohobei and belonged to the people of Hatohobei, and that they did agreed on the opinions, they will adjourn the meeting and later, he will take the result of the meeting and meet with Mr. Patris Tahemaremaho to discuss with him and see what he will say about it, and if Mr. Patris Tahemaremaho suggests to meet with the public again, then he the Governor will call a meeting again, but if he meet with the guy and if ever they will come to the same decision as what the public opinions is, then that it.


Delegate Thomas Patris suggested that after the Governor will meet with Mr. Patris Tahemaremaho, its not necessary to call public meeting again, the Governor will try to work according to plan so the project for Helen Reef will and must continue to carry out, the project should not be stopped.   He pointed out that there will be no way for one person to file a complain to the court, unless he/she will violate the law that is already mandated in the Constitution of the Republic of Palau and Hatohobei State.


The Governor stated that in the case, he did not wanted to leave one person out, he wanted to try to bring everyone to join in as one with the same opinion.  He added that as of then, he already got everyone's opinion, he will try to straighten out with Mr. Patris too.


Mr. Domiciano Andrew suggested for the Governor to get  Mr. Patris' opinion and try to straighten out to be cleared with him.


The Governor then stated that since Mr. Patris did not have the time to be with them for he has other business to tend to, he the Governor let him go.


Mr. Isauro Andrew stated that he did not really know what were the points stated by Mr. Patris.


The Governor agreed that he too did not really understand.  He again stated that he will meet with him again and try to get good information and good opinion.   The Governor then thanked the public for their opinion sharing and adjourned the meeting.


The meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m.