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Gov Lolo is not in D.C. — health issues cited — no official word

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga didn’t attend a US Senate Committee hearing yesterday in Washington D.C., reportedly due to “health issues”. Lolo was also absent from the annual federal Interagency Group on Insular Areas (IGIA) meeting held early this week in the nation’s capital, as well as the annual National Governors Association Winter Meeting.

The US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources convened a hearing regarding the state of the US territories starting at 10a.m (4a.m in American Samoa). In particular, the challenges and needs of each territorial government.

The governors of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands were all present and made verbal presentations as well as written statements. The hearing was webcast live on the committee’s website, which also provided in advance the list of witnesses, which didn’t include Lolo.

As part of her opening remarks, committee chairperson, US Sen. Lisa  Murkowski, informed her colleagues that Lolo wasn’t able to make it to the nation’s capital for the hearing but has submitted a written testimony for the record. Murkowski acknowledged the presence of Congresswoman Aumua Amata in the audience.

Lolo’s seven-page written testimony covers several issues dealing with challenges and needs for American Samoa.

The Committee’s ranking Democratic member, Sen. Joe Manchin, acknowledged that Lolo wasn’t able to attend the hearing. “I understand that Governor [Lolo] Moliga could not be here because of health issues and we wish him a full and speedy recovery.”

The governor’s executive director, Iulogologo Joseph Pereira — who is in D.C. and was to accompany the governor during the meetings — didn’t immediately respond to Samoa News inquiries regarding the governor’s “health issues”.

The IGIA meeting was only attended by Lolo’s senior staff: Iulogologo, chief of staff Fiu J. Saelua; governor’s assistant legal counsel Alema Leota; and ASG Medicaid director Sandra King-Young.

It's unclear if the governor presented a prepared statement for the IGIA meeting and Samoa News has a request pending with Iulogologo, since Monday this week, for a copy of the statement, if such was presented to IGIA.

As of late yesterday morning there has been no official press statement or announcement from the Interior Department’s Office of Insular Affairs about the IGIA meeting.

Lolo left the territory early this month to attend meetings in Honolulu, and also for a medical check-up. He was supposed to head out to the Washington D.C. meetings — including the annual National Governors Association Winter Meeting, which he also didn’t attend.