Citizens Give Varied Opinions On Electoral Reform At Hearing
by Proviana Colón Díaz
April 26, 2002
Political Analyst and Prof. Jose Garriga Pico expressed Friday his opposition to public financing of political campaigns, as he believes such measures will fail to resolve the "disproportionate" influence of the "great economic interest."
"Candidates who have a tendency to be corrupt will continue to violate the law regardless of the financing mechanism used," Garriga Pico said.
Garriga Pico, however, did approve of the idea to limit the time of electoral campaigns through amending the process of primaries.
The political analyst made his statement before the Senate Government Committee chaired by Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Roberto Prats, which is conducting public hearings on Gov. Sila Calderons public campaign financing administrative bill.
The proposed campaign financing bill is currently being evaluated in the Legislature and could undergo amendments, but as originally filed, it would allocate $10 million of public funds for each partys campaign.
New Independence Movement spokesman Julio Muriente testified that the amount should be reduced.
He also proposed that public television and radio networks should be used for the campaigns instead of commercial channels.
As part of the legislative process, common law citizens can petition to speak during public hearings on any subject. The committee gave that opportunity Friday.
Roberto Otero, a teacher, said he wanted to testify before the committee because as a citizen, he would like to be involved in the procedures that shape the island in order to improve it and because he said, "I believe a difference can still be made."
Otero recommended that the filed bill be amended to include the mechanism of "initiative."
Initiative is a mechanism through which citizens can directly legislate. By collecting signatures, generally between three percent to five percent of the registered voters, the certified group can submit an issue for the peoples approval. If voted on favorably, the issue would become law.
Otero added that after reading the submitted bill, he was convinced that such mechanism should be included because as drafted, the project benefits the political parties more than the people.