An emergency meeting was held at Matautu Falelatai after the village heard of protestors congregating at the gates of the Head of State’s residence at Vailele yesterday.
Head of the Village Council Afioga Nanai Lupematasila Fa’amanu Ivara spoke to Samoa Global News on Monday night, immediately after a bus with 30 people including matai and taulele’a (untitled men) left for Vailele.
He said the safety of the Tama Aiga Tuiaana Tuimalealiifano Va’aleto’a Sualauvi II who is now the Head of State of Samoa is important to Falelatai.
The SSIG protest march was to call on the Head of State to not put his signature to the three LTC Bills recently passed in Parliament by a majority vote of 41-4.
Falelatai village matai were particularly concerned and angry about comments they had seen on social media. Hundreds had commented on the broadcasted live feeds on Facebook.
Nanai said some comments directed towards the Head of State used threatening words and vulgar language.
“That is why we are worried about his safety”, said Nanai.
“So the Aiga Tauaana would like to help protect one of our own, who sits on the seat of the Head of State of Samoa..”, he said.
“O lea la ua ofo le Aiga Tauaana e omai e puipui la latou tama i totonu o le maota o le Ao o le Malo a’o feagai ai le atunuu ma nei vevesi.
E le tu’umamaina e le nu’u, ona o le solotete’e lea na alu atu ananafi, o lea e pei sa avatu ai se order fo’i lea ia aua ne’i sainia tulafono.”
Police officers on duty at the Head of State’s residence said matai may tapuai in support, but cannot be part of security procedures and protocols already in place for the protection of the Head of the State.
According to lawyer, advocate and founding member of SSIG Unasa Iuni Sapolu, the march and formal request handed to the Head of State through a letter, was the last resort taken by SSIG to stop the LTC amendments.
She says the LTRA 2008 is unconstitutional as it allows for the alienation of customary lands and enables customary lands to be used as collateral security for loans.
When the gates of the Head of State’s residence were not open by police, the group handed over a one-page written request signed by SSIG President.
The written message reads: “Before you sign the Bills into Law that removes our rights, please have a look at section 109 of the Constitution and if there was a national referendum to seek the opinion of the people, who own the Lands”.
During his Parliamentary address before the third reading the LTC Bills, Hon Faaolesa Katopau Ainuu allayed concerns raised on the impacts of the new laws.
In terms of protection of customary lands, Faaolesa said there is no proof nor any reference in the Laws to support claims that the amendments would result in changes to communal land ownership.
“That assumption is not factual and it is based on predictions”, added the Minister.
Many continue to argue the LTC Bills on social media, often seen attacking each other with degrading comments, foul language and threatening words.