De Castro Font Joins The Pro Statehood Movement
Pesquera Promises To "Clean House"
McClintock Urges Rossello Acknowledgement
Cintron Suspended For 10 Days
De Castro Font Officially Joins The Pro Statehood Movement
March 3rd, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) - Independent Rep. Jorge De Castro Font, formerly a member of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) officially joined the pro statehood movement during the weekend.
The legislator made his ideological affiliation official after signing a petition in favor of the statehood political formula for Puerto Rico.
Prior to signing the document, De Castro Font offered a speech in which he strongly criticized the administration of Gov. Sila Calderon and the leadership of the PDP.
De Castro Font said he hoped to serve as an example to other PDP members who, just like him, have been convinced that the "true" permanent union with the United States can only be achieve through statehood.
The independent legislator, however, said he is still evaluating the possibility of joining the New Progressive Party and said he would be discussing it with the people.
For her part, NPP Vice President Sen. Lucy Arce said De Castro Font is welcome to join the party, although she noted that De Castro Fonts eventual run for any elective post as a member of the NPP will be subject to the partys approval.
Pesquera Promises To "Clean House" At The NPP
March 3rd, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) - New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera promised on Sunday "to do whatever it takes" to regain the peoples trust in the NPP leaders.
Pesquera attributed the dozens of corruption accusations against members of the NPP to the actions of a few people within the party.
"There is no doubt that our people betrayed us, but they were just a handful. They have nothing to do with you. The good people of this party are here and this is a decent party," said Pesquera, who was applauded by those present at an event Sunday.
"There is no doubt that it hurt us, but Ill say it louder than ever: those who did it, will pay for it," Pesquera added, rejecting the possibility of changing the NPPs name.
"Those who ask for a change of name, for a new party, that is not the solution," the NPP president noted during the celebration of the 85th anniversary of the U.S. citizenship granted to Puerto Rican residents in 1917.
The also former Transportation and Public Works secretary criticized Gov. Sila Calderons administration for a lack of performance and for renaming the projects of former Gov. Pedro Rossello.
"Enough of looking for excuses to conceal her governments shortcomings. Where are the 100,000 jobs, the community schools, where is the famous work without corruption? There is no work and there is corruption within the Popular Democratic Party," Pesquera stated.
The NPP president also told the press that the NPP is establishing more rigorous controls for raising funds and it is also giving workshops on ethical behavior and healthy administration.
On the other hand, he didnt rule out the possibility of turning in to federal and local authorities the tape recordings of the NPPs directorate meetings, if hes asked to do so to help out in the investigation on how money was raised at government agencies during the past administration.
McClintock Urges Rossello Acknowledgement
March 4th, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) - New Progressive Party (NPP) Senate Minority Leader Kenneth McClintock urged his fellow party members to cleanse the NPP from those who betrayed the trust of the people and asked them to acknowledge "the abundant" work done by former Gov. Pedro Rossello.
The legislator referred to the dozens of accusations in federal court against former public officials of the Rossello administration, that also include elected leaders of the NPP.
"Those who failed the people will have to pay for what they have done," said McClintock.
"We have to acknowledge the work performed by Pedro Rossello and we have to defend it," the legislator added in a passionate speech before thousands of NPP followers who gathered at the Capitol to commemorate the 85th anniversary of the U.S. citizenship granted to Puerto Rican residents in 1917.
Legislature Approves 10-Day Suspension For Angel Cintron
By Proviana Colon Diaz
March 5th, 2002
With the opposition of the New Progressive Party (NPP) delegation and independent Rep. Jorge de Castro Font, the House of Representatives approved Tuesday the sanction and 10-day suspension of NPP Rep. Angel Cintron for violations to the Ethics Code and the Full Time Legislator Law.
The suspension will begin Wednesday until March 19.
NPP Ethics Committee Rep. Luis Jr. Perez issued an explicative vote in favor of the report, in which he affirmed his original position that his fellow legislator did violate the Ethics Code but not the Full Time Legislator Law, for which he would vote in favor of the sanction but not of the suspension.
The nearly four-hour long procedure did not occur without controversy. One such controversy occurred when Cintron argued that the complaint filed against him was not notarized, therefore was not valid, and the case was to be dismissed.
The controversy was cleared hours later when copies of the notarized complaint were delivered to all members of the House.
The House of Laws had not seen a similar procedure since Senate Vice President Nicolas Nogueras was expelled from his duties in 1996 when his peers endorsed a Senate Ethics Committee report recommending that he be expelled following accusations in federal court for a money laundering scheme. Years later, he was found not guilty of the charges.
The House Ethics Committee executive panel found cause early last month to pursue an investigation into a complaint filed against Cintron by House Clerk Nestor Duprey for alleged violations to the Full-Time Legislator Law.
The complaint filed against the legislator comprises his absences during the period from August to November. The complaint was filed at the same time NPP President Carlos Pesquera designated Cintron as general secretary of the party.
In his exposition before the floor, Ethics Committee Chairman Hector Ferrer went over the rulings of the House Ethics Code, including that there is no space for appealing the committees ruling and that it is the legislators who must vote in favor or against the punishment recommended by the panel - in this case, a sanction and 10-day suspension from his duties as legislator.
According to the investigation and as stated in the report, Cintron failed to attend his duties as a minority member of a committee a total of 58 times from August to November 2001. Most of these meetings were scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., others at 1 p.m., and a few at 1:30 p.m.
Cintron failed to attend his duties at the House committees for Natural Resources and Environmental Quality, Federal and International Affairs, Bank Insurance and Financial Affairs, and the Ethics Committee.
The Ethics Committee, of which Cintron was a former chairman, is the one that is now judging him.
According to the investigation, six out of the 23 times Cintron was absent to the Natural Resources and Environmental Quality Committee conflicted with his law school schedule; five of the 15 times he was to be at the Federal and International Affairs Committee; two of the 16 he had been absent from the Bank Insurance and Financial Affairs; and one of the four times he was to be at the Ethics Committee.
Ferrer concluded his allocation by playing a recording in which Cintron is heard saying that he was never absent from his duties to attend law school.
"Neither to sessions nor to the legislative committees, I have never been absent to attend my duties at the university. All the contrary, I have been absent at the university to be here," Cintron said before the committee.
In his time to respond, Cintron again claimed his innocence and argued that he never failed in his duties at the Legislature.
Cintron also debated that the committee violated his rights when he was forced to defend his case on the first date of hearings and not in the three days that had been reserved for such purpose.
Before affirming that he does not "repent" from going to law school, the legislator repeated that the complaint against him was of a political nature.
"There are basic rights proved. Its a given right that I have been a law student since 1999 when I was the majority leader and headed two committees. But something changed October 2001, I became the NPP general secretary, and the witch hunt began," Cintron said.
Ferrer disagreed for the record.
"There is no political persecution; there is nothing personal, Angel, and you know it, but you turn it into a personal issue by attacking the integrity of Perez, mine, Garcia San Inocencio, and that of all the members of the committee," Ferrer said.
Meanwhile, the laws of the debate also caused a controversy.
According to the debate laws agreed in the House, the only legislators allowed to talk for the record were Ethics Committee Chairman Hector Ferrer, Cintron, Puerto Rican Independence Party Rep. Victor Garcia San Inocencio, and de Castro Font.
The rules of the debate, which were not discussed with either the majority or the minorities, caused disappointment among members of the Legislature, who thought they should have been given the opportunity to debate.
Popular Democratic Party (PDP) legislators Severo Colberg Jr. and Roberto Cruz left the floor immediately after the rules were announced.
PDP Rep. Charlie Hernandez , who left his duties in his district of Mayaguez to come to the special session, issued a written vote in favor of the report, in light that he was prohibited to speak, but argued that the penalty imposed was too "light," considering the seriousness of the fault committed.
He also opposed the selection of a sanction as the penalty when it would have been more effective to ask the legislator to repay the salary paid while he attended law school.