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Word ‘impeachment’ used in Senate on Friday

The word impeachment surfaced in the Senate on Friday last week while Senators were discussing Governor Togiola T.A Tulafono’s letter to the Fono leaders, informing them that he had vetoed the $1.6 million bill to help the financially strapped LBJ Hospital, for which $800,000 had been allocated to the hospital.

It was not clear whether the advice from some senators to look at possible impeachment of the governor and also to seek assistance from the Department of Interior came when the Senate heard that the governor vetoed their $1.6 million bill for the hospital.

Senate President Gaoteote Palaie Tofau was the first to comment on the letter from the governor, dated February 9, 2012. (For details of governor’s letter read story in today’s edition, inside.)

In his letter, Togiola told Fono leaders that the reason he vetoed the $1.6 million bill was because the money which showed as surplus funds from Fiscal Year 2011 had been used by ASG to continue its obligations and services to the people.

“If you factor in all others costs to run the hospital, this amount will have a most short term effect on a very large problem,” Togiola added. He told them that the hospital will be in the exact same position after this appropriation has long been set apart.

During the Senate discussion on this issue last Friday, some senators were concerned as to how the governor will deal with the $3 million bill they had passed, which is now being presented to his office for his final action and signature.

Senator Galea’i Tuufuli compared what is happening to ASG and its people, along with the hospital and other branches of the government, to a boat that’s nearly sunk, and a heavy burden that people of the territory can no longer carry.

He said that people have a lot of respect for the government and it leaders, but when it comes to hard times like this, and people lose trust in their leaders, then the constitution is clear about setting up an impeachment, and that decision is not for the Senate but it is for the House of Representatives who have the authority to do that.

He also mentioned a clause in the administering authority of the Department of Interior, if there’s a need from the people.

Sen. Galea’i told his colleagues that the Fono wants the governor to respect them, as they do respect him, but it is not the case if the Senate respects the governor, but the governor does not respect the Senate.

He said that he has a clean heart, and he wants to do something so that people will not suffer, because the government is going down, and the Senate needs to do something to save its people.

Senator Lualemaga Faoa was the second senator to comment on  this issue and he made a suggestion that the Senate pass a resolution to send to Interior department, telling them that they need their assistance now.

Other Senators voiced their concerns. Sen. Mauga Tasi Asuega stated that what happened is like a Samoan saying that “only a snake is killed with its eyes wide open”.

He encouraged his colleagues to keep praying for the people and to be patient, but if there is nothing else which can be done to avoid these problems, then he will agree with what Sen. Galea’i said.

Sen. Fuata Dr. I’atala told the Senate that when he visited the hospital morgue on Wednesday night, there were no spaces available because the morgue was full.

He said that most of the dead bodies he saw in the morgue were elderly citizens and children, and it was a sad thing to witness.

After a long discussion, Senators agreed that they need to take action, but Sen. Fonoti countered that there’s no need to rush.