Micronesian leaders honor the memory of Lifoifoi

Posted on Jun 01 2020

File photo shows Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, right, and former House of Representatives speaker Joe Lifoifoi. (OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR)

Leaders from all over Micronesia have expressed their condolences to the family of Jose Rebuenog Lifoifoi, who was a fifth speaker of the CNMI House of Representatives, former chairman of the Commonwealth Ports Authority, former chairman of the United Micronesia Development Association, and honorary consul of the Republic of Palau to the CNMI.

Lifoifoi passed away on May 18 and was laid to rest on May 30. Over the last week, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lifoifoi’s widow, Cecilia, and family received messages of condolences from President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. of the Republic of Palau, President David W. Panuelo of the Federated States of Micronesia, President David Kabua of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Speaker Tina Rose Muña Barnes of Guam.

Remegesau referred to Lifoifoi as a “lifetime friend of many Palauans.”

“[Speaker Lifoifoi] cultivated many friends during his many visits over the years. He was one of the few foreigners bestowed an honorary citizenship of Palau for his many contributions to the country, including his service as Palau’s honorary consul to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Joe also extended tremendous assistance and was a respected friend of the Palauan community in Saipan,” Remengesau wrote in his letter. “The people of Palau join you in mourning the loss of this exceptional statesman and extend our gratitude for his many years of friendship and close ties to Palau, his second home.”

Panuelo said Lifoifoi was a “well-known leader throughout our Micronesia region and a great mentor to many.”

“On behalf of the People of the Federated States of Micronesia, allow me to express our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the Lifoifoi family and the people of the CNMI,” Panuelo wrote.

Kabua called Lifoifoi “one of Micronesia’s great sons and leaders.”

“Our islands will remember one its dedicated public servants as a pioneering leader in our economic development and infrastructure improvement as the chairman of the board for the United Micronesia Development Association, Inc. The Marshallese people and their government join the people and the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in honoring the outstanding career and life of the late speaker…,” Kabua wrote.

Muña Barnes said that Lifoifoi “lived a life that was committed to public service and the advancement of our Blue Continent,” referring to the countries in the Pacific Ocean.

“Speaker Jose’s legacy will always live on throughout the history of the CNMI—and the entire Blue Continent. In the brief time I had spent with him, he passionately shared with me the history of the CNMI’s relationship with the United States and inspired me to be a better leader for our people. He truly understood the importance of grassroots democracy, and truly served as a role model of government by the people and for the people,” Muña Barnes wrote.

Torres thanked all the leaders and friends of Micronesia for their condolence messages to both Lifoifoi’s family and to the Commonwealth.

“Speaker Joe Lifoifoi—or as I loved to call him—my chairman—made such a tremendous impact on the lives of people that call Micronesia home through his public service. I sincerely thank President Remengesau, President Panuelo, President Kabua, Speaker Muña Barnes, and everyone from all over Micronesia who sent their condolences to Auntie Cel, her children and families, and I. We are all so grateful to have had the privilege and honor to know chairman Lifoifoi. He loved the Marianas and Micronesia, and we will all miss him dearly. Godspeed chairman,” said Torres. (PR)

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