Falefa chief disputes L.T.C. support claim
An ongoing dispute about Falefa village's position on the proposed Land and Titles Court (L.T.C.) overhaul has deepened after local chief, Uava Vevesi Tovio, disputed claims the village was supporting the changes.
Uava, a well-known musician, was speaking in response to claims by the Acting Village Mayor, Fanualelei Purcell, that the village was backing the changes and had been "enlightened" by Member of Parliament, Alai'asa Sepulona Moananu.
He said that the views of two people could not be said to be representative of the village.
Those are the two whom Uava claim represent the village's support for the proposed L.T.C. changes spelt out in the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020, Land and Titles Bill 2020, and the Judicature Bill 2020.
Uava claimed the Falefa's Acting Pulenu'u was not qualified to speak on the matter.
"I refrain from going to our Village Council meetings because my sister also sits in and we have an agreement that she would be the one to sit in and she can report to me what is going on, and my sister said nothing about the village supporting the bills," said the 72-year-old.
"The mayor only thinks he knows what the bills are because it is what Alai'asa has told them. In terms of meaningful consultation and explanation of these bills to the village, there has been none. No committee has been there, not even the lawyers, they only heard Alai'asa.
"How can they support [the measures] when they do not understand the incoming changes? I can tell you for sure that not everyone from the village of Falefa supports the three bills."
These comments echo those made by another village chief, Tuilaepa Mary Grey, who told the Samoa Observer the village “ha[s] no idea” how the proposed restructure of the Lands and Titles Court (L.T.C.) will impact them.
Alai'asa was not immediately available for comment when contacted by this newspaper.
But the acting Mayor, Fanualelei, is adamant that the village is not uninformed, saying that the more than 300 matai who compose the Village Council look forward to providing input on the changes.
He said the Village Council had asked Alai'asa to communicate with the Parliamentary Committee and set a date so that the village could make submissions.
“Our village has asked our Member of Parliament because we have learned that members of the Parliamentary Committee will visit the villages…we don’t have a date yet. Our MP will tell us on Saturday what day Falefa can meet with the committee,” the M.P. said.
“But I strongly object to [the views of matai who say we are in] the dark about the bills. How can we be in the dark when we have been enlightened?"