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Resolution to increase number of Manu’a senators tabled in committee

Sen. Magalei Logovi’i

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Senate Rules Committee has tabled for further discussion and another future hearing, the Senate Joint Resolution, which seeks to amend the local Constitution by adding two more senatorial seats for Manu’a.

The decision was made by committee chairman Sen. Magalei Logovi’i, following a hearing last week, in which several senators voiced their opinions on the measure sponsored by Manu’a senators, Malaepule Saite Moliga, Tauiliili Paopao Lauifi and Ma’o Fa’auma S. Gogo.

Sen. Muagututi’a Tauoa was the first to address the hearing and recalled former Manu’a Sen. Nuanuaolefeagaiga Saoluaga Nua — during his term in office — brought this same measure twice to the Senate, and twice it was rejected.

Muagututi’a cautioned that if Manu’a is given the two additional seats, Tutuila will want the same. And this means, there will be 50 senatorial seats while the new Fono building currently under construction is only designed for the 18-Senate members.

He made a clear point that he opposes the measure and will vote against it.

Malaepule informed his colleagues that changes made to the Constitution in 1960 reduced the number of Manu’a senators from five to two and increased senatorial seats for Tutuila and there was never an explanation as to why this happened.

He pleaded with committee members to return the two senatorial seats for Manu’a as it was from the beginning, saying that what’s good for Tutuila should also be good for Manu’a.

Ma’o spoke in support of Malaepule, and called on senators to do something good for Manu’a during the current Legislature, by giving Manu’a back the two seats it lost in 1960.

Sen. Tuiagamoa Tavai agreed with Muagututi’a statement, pointing out that the change made to the 1960 Constitution was done by American Samoa leaders and faipule at the time and not a change made by just leaders of Tutuila.

He agrees with Muagututi’a that Tutuila will seek the same if Manu’a is given back the two seats.

Tauiliili asked to bring the discussion to a close and requested to return the measure back to the Manu’a senators, saying that he was not aware of the resolution being presented to the Senate and it was not discussed with him.

He said that he has never heard of this measure being the subject of discussion in Manu’a and it needs more time for discussions with his Manu’a senatorial colleagues.

The hearing come to a conclusion, with Magalei making the decision to defer the issue for a later time for more discussions and tabled it in committee.