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Surangel Whipps Jr. to run for Palau president

KOROR (Pacific Note/Pacnews) — Palau’s Sen. Surangel Whipps Jr. has officially thrown his hat into the 2016 presidential race by submitting nominating petition and officially filing his candidacy at the Palau Elections Commission Office, Wednesday.

Members of his family, friends and supporters accompanied Whipps when he submitted his nominating petition. A candidate for president must garner at least 500 signatures as part the election requirements.

Whipps, who was first to declare a bid for the 2016 elections, and has been heavily campaigning since last year is also the first to officially seal the deal.

Surangel Whipps JrSurangel Whipps Jr

July 20, Whipps said, is a very significant day to file the petition.

“Today is a full moon. Full moon is about prosperity, we want prosperity in Palau to benefit all Palauans,” he said.

Whipps said the central focus of his platform “help Palauan people participate in all the growth and opportunities here in Palau.” He said although the Palau’s economy is growing, people are being left behind.”

Whipps career in politics began in 2008; he made history by becoming the first senator to win by write-in.

He also garnered the highest percentage of votes in the Senate race in 2008 and 2011.

Now that it’s official, Whipps said he and his supporters will work harder to campaign leading up to the primary elections on Sept. 27.

Whipps said he is also running with a pledge for change.

The senator said: “I am running to improve our people’s lives and improve the opportunities of the Palauan people.”

One example he said is that Palau will miss out on millions of revenues from the repealed visa fee and the delay in the implementation of the environmental impact fee.

“It removes revenues that Palau badly needs, that is an example that the direction has changed,” he added.

He said the focus is on how to better the people’s lives, and improve basic services in Palau.

“There are things that need to be done better,” he said.  

President Tommy Remengesau and Sen. Sandra Pierantozzi have also declared their presidential bids but have yet to file their nominating petitions.

Vice President Antonio Bells is also reported to be seeking the highest office of the land. According to individuals who have talked to close family members, Bells declared his candidacy for the Office of the President at a family gathering at his home in Ngerias.

The deadline for filing of the nominating petitions is on Aug. 3.