President Johnson Toribiong
His Excellency Johnson Toribiong, the Republic of Palau’s 8th President for the next four years from 2009 to 2012, is expected to lead this small island nation of a little over 20,000 people to what many look forward to as an era of changes beyond the horizon.
On July 22, 1946, the wail of a baby boy announced the eldest of six children to proud parents Toribiong Uchel and Ucheliei M. Toribiong. Hailing from the state of Airai, Johnson embarked on a long and prolific journey commencing with unpretentious teachings from his parents, especially from his father Toribiong Uchel, that eventually took him to this momentous period of time.
In his early childhood, Johnson presented himself to Seventh Day Adventist Elementary School where he excelled academically. By 1965, Johnson went on to attend Palau Mission Academy High School graduating after four years with honors and selected amongst his classmates to give the commencement address. His teachers and mentors are the key people who inspired the desire to pursue higher learning and academic achievement.
Johnson Toribiong was awarded a Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands Scholarship to attend the University of Colorado resulting in his earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science along with a minor in Economics. The Mariana District Land Commission took him on board as Administrative Assistant in 1969. His hard working ethics and relentless pursuit of higher academic standard pressed him on to enroll at the University of Washington Law School receiving his Juris Doctor in Law in1972.
Johnson subsequently earned his LLM in Law of the Sea from the same University a year after in 1973. In between the years he worked as an attorney for Trapp & Gayle Law Firm in Guam from 1973 to 1974 as well as a partner in Guerrero, Coughlin and Toribiong Law Firm. During the later part of 1974 to 1975, he served as a Legislative Counsel for Yap State Legislature and the Fifth Palau District Legislature. In 1975, he was appointed as a Trust Territory Assistant Public Defender where he served until 1981.
In the mid-seventies, Johnson during this period of time was also elected as a Delegate to the Micronesian Constitutional Convention that held in Saipan in 1975. Right after the Micronesian Constitutional Convention, Johnson was elected as a Legislator for Palau District Legislature serving as Floor Leader for the next four years until 1979. Furthermore he was also entrusted with the task as Legal Counsel to the Palau Future Political Status Commission between Palau and the United States related to the Compact of Free Association.
From 1977 to 1979, Johnson took the helm as Chairman of Palau Public Lands Authority. At the conclusion of PPLA term, Palau Constitutional Convention convened and Johnson was unanimously elected amongst his peers as the Convention’s Vice President. Following the adoption of Palau Constitution by an overwhelming majority of voters in 1980, Johnson ran for the Olbiil Era Kelulau (Palau National Congress) and elected to the Senate. Once again, he was selected by his peers as Floor Leader of the First Olbiil Era Kelulau in the First Constitutional Government instituted the following year in 1981.
During the same year in 1981, Johnson established his law firm of Toribiong and Coughlin helping many unfortunate ones. The Law Firm succeeded in mitigating several landmark cases in the Republic of Palau. With the approval of “Kebliil ra Ked” of Airai, Johnson was bestowed upon the traditional title of NGIRAKED, the High Chief of Airai State.
By the year 2001, Johnson was appointed by President Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., with the consent and approval of the Senate of the Sixth Olbiil Era Kelulau, as Palau Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of China – Taiwan. In 2005’s Palau Constitutional Convention, he won a seat as one of its members and was unanimously selected by all members as President of the Second Constitutional Convention of the Republic of Palau.
His experience and knowledge allowed various organizations to tap onto his ability including appointment as an Instructor for Palau Land Court Mediators, Appointed Special Judge Pro Tem for Yap State Court, Member of Palau National Judicial Nominating Commission, President, of Palau chamber of Commerce, Land Court Part-Time Judge and Chairman of Palau SDA School Board.
His extensive working experience throughout his career in the span of over three decades established his record as a brilliant attorney acquiring easy membership of the Bar at various countries in Washington State, Guam, CNMI, FSM, and Palau.
Johnson is an avid sportsman who enjoys swimming and a game of baseball. His most noted deed was during his management of the Airai Aces Baseball Team to numerous championships, a legacy of sports in Palau that remains until today. He currently served as President of Belau Baseball Federation since 2004 and First Vice-President of the Baseball Confederation of Oceania since 2005.
Johnson first ran for the office of the President of the Republic of Palau in 1992 but lost the race. The issue of Primary Election was than proposed and adopted requiring such election for the office of the President and four years after in 1996, Johnson once again ran for office and unfortunately such was not to be. On November 4, 2008, and for the third time, he finally was elected to office as the Eighth President of the Republic of Palau.
President Johnson Toribiong is married to Valeria Andres Toribiong and both have two (2) children namely Rolel and Sonia. The couple is blessed with four (4) grand children, Ethan Iechaderngel Levante Meyar, Kimora Koyar Davis, Elkerg D. Davis and Merau J. Toribiong. Johnson has three brothers Lucius (Lakius) Malsol, Francis Toribiong, and Joel Toribiong and three sisters Deborah Toribiong, Rodech T. Smus and Nanumi T. Mesubed.