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VIDEO: Questions about Eni’s health continue to overshadow his work

Congressman Faleomavaega Eni is quoted saying he expects to return to Washington D.C “as soon as possible”, according to a news release sent out by his office on Monday, in which it was announced the Congressman had been invited by the Fono leaders to attend Monday’s opening of the 3rd Regular Session of the 33rd Legislature.


However, the media statement — which admonishes Samoa News for not publishing his news releases — does not provide any other details on the condition of the Congressman's health after he had been medivaced in October last year to Honolulu for further care at Tripler Army Medical Center.


Several weeks later, Faleomavaega’s office issued another statement, saying the Congressman was being transferred to either Utah or Washington D.C. for rehab, but still provided no details as to why he was hospitalized in the first place, or how long the rehab is expected to last and to this date there has been no further word on those issues.


The news release Monday thanked Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie and House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale for the invitation to attend the opening of the 3rd Regular Session and for “ the love, concern, support and prayers that have been offered on my behalf and, in turn, I wish to offer my full support to Governor Lolo and our Fono for a successful legislative session,” Faleomavaega is quoted as saying.


The news release said the congressman would be providing to the local administration and legislators a written update on federal matters including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) canned tuna debate, the fraudulent wire transfer of $1.2 million from one of ASG’s accounts to an account in Vietnam, minimum wage deadlines, healthcare, and the Territorial Omnibus bill that Faleomavaega had informed the governor about as early as June 4, 2013. As of Tuesday morning, legislators contacted had not yet received the packet.


At Monday’s Fono opening where Gov. Lolo M. Moliga delivered the State of the Territory Address, the governor asked lawmakers to remember the Congressman's “gasegase” (or hospitalization) in their prayers. No other information was provided by the governor and it is not known if any further information has been made available to the government.




Faleomavaega admonished Samoa News for choosing “not to report”, what he says are the facts on this federal legislation, presented in a Dec. 19, 2013 news release from his office.


According to Monday’s the news release, the Congressman directed his staff to send out the Dec. release informing “our people” that the bill and the four provisions he included passed the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy.


“Although Samoa News stated that it would not print any of my releases until my staff answered questions about my whereabouts and condition, Samoa News published an article about the Omnibus bill on December 27, 2013 which only noted that my office had issued a statement saying that I would ‘keep the people of American Samoa updated as the bill moves forward’,” the release said.


“In actuality, my statement on Dec. 19, 2013 fully informed the public about the 4 issues I had included in the bill – namely a waiver requirement, a minimum wage differential study, a study of the benefit-to-cost-ratio-formula used to determine funding for federal projects in American Samoa, and a fishery endorsement provision. I am disappointed that Samoa News chose not to report these facts,” he is quoted as saying.


However, in a Samoa News story on Dec. 27 specific details of the provisions were itemized, as well as the fact that these provisions were presented by Faleomavaega “six months ago” and “the bill now goes to the U.S. Senate floor for a vote, which is not expected until Congress returns next month after the holidays.” (See Dec. 27 edition for full details of the story, which provided a lengthy explanation of each provision based on material in the Samoa News archives compiled from the bill itself and earlier statements from Faleomavaega.)


What was not mentioned in the story was the Congressman, in a news release, announced that the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy passed the bill by voice vote. The reasons include the fact there was still no reply from the Congressman’s office on previous Samoa News questions on the status of his health, why was he hospitalized in the first place, and how he is staying in contact with his office if he is in rehab.


These are the same questions many residents, including voters, are raising with Samoa News and these question have yet to be answered. Having his office issue a news release quoting the Congressman, still does not provide answers to lingering questions on his health.


And these questions are not only surfacing locally.


Late last week, the Guam-based Pacific News Center, quoted Congressman Gregorio ‘Kilili’ Sablan (of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas) saying a gentlemen’s agreement will keep the Omnibus Territories Act moving through Congress, despite controversy over Guam War Claims and the hospitalization of American Samoa’s Delegate.


“Reliable sources here say he needs ‘major rehabilitation’,” Pacific News Center said referring to Faleomavaega.


“There’s always been a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ that when we started this effort, that if one part, if a piece of the legislation is going to hold up the entire legislation, then there’s a gentlemen’s agreement that we could remove that sticking point. And so, the bill would move forward,” Sablan is quoted as saying.


Sablan says Faleomavaega, Guam’s Madeleine Bordallo and the other delegates, are all on board with that.


As for Faleomavaega, Sablan said, “I continue to keep Congressman Faleomavaega Eni and his family in my prayers. We would, of course, let his office know that we’re having a meeting and invite someone from his office to join us in the meeting” on the Omnibus bill. (See for full details.)




In his news release Monday, Faleomavaega is quoted saying he is also “disappointed” his Christmas video message prepared for the people of American Samoa was not properly aired on KVZK.


He said his chief of staff, Faiivae Alex Godinet, was assured KVZK TV station would air this Christmas video prior to Christmas; “unfortunately, it is my understanding that my video, although very short, was only aired once and many people did not have a chance to hear or see my message of gratitude for the prayers you have offered in my behalf.”


“And so, on January 10, 2014, I directed my staff to submit this video to Samoa News and KHJ radio so that family, friends and our community can know the powerful role you have played in my recovery,” he said.


The video, with the message in Samoan, was released by the Congressman’s Washington D.C. office and was received by Samoa News, but didn’t provide any other details such as where the video was recorded and when; and did not address the health condition of the Congressman.


Samoa News has sent questions to Faiivae, with a copy of the email questions to the Washington D.C. office for more details but as of yesterday afternoon, there has been no reply.


Faleomavaega made no mention of his health on the 30-second video posted here.