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Rosselló: Plebiscite's 5th Column Unworthy of Cost, Use of Officials

by Agustin Muñoz

October 18, 1998
©Copyright 1998 The San Juan Star

PONCE - Gov. Rosselló on Saturday said the fifth column to be defended by the Popular Democratic Party in the Dec. 13 plebiscite doesn't deserve any use of the economic resources allocated for that purpose or the right to have electoral officials.

Rosselló, who heads the New Progressive Party, was firm in stating that "we should follow the legal dispositions" which only grant participation of funds and officials to ideologies that compete in the plebiscite.

"[The fifth column] belongs to everyone who believes that none of the others describes their petition or their wish," he said. "Thus, it's a column that is open and not for any specific party."

The Rosselló administration has scheduled a plebiscite in December in which voters will choose among the options of a territorial commonwealth, free association, statehood and independence.

The PDP Governing Board on Thursday decided to promote a vote for the "none of the above" alternative as a challenge to the commonwealth definition that appears on the ballot.

PDP defenders say the definition that will compete in the plebiscite wasn't drafted by commonwealth supporters but by pro-statehood forces.

The Rosselló administration used the definition of commonwealth in separate plebiscite legislation approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, which then died in the Senate.

The PDP is suing the government in court to stop the plebiscite, charging that the definition of commonwealth as a territory - the first option on the ballot - is unconstitutional.

Rosselló said those who comprise the PDP are represented in the plebiscite by the first option and by free association.

In a visit to the PDP bastion of Ponce to hand out checks to people who suffered damages because of Hurricane Georges, the governor declined to comment on Mayor Rafael Cordero Santiago's announcement that he will campaign for a boycott of the plebiscite despite his party's official decision.

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