PDP leadership shocked at arrest of former officials
SAN JUAN – The Popular Democratic Party’s leadership (PDP) remained stunned after learning about the arrest of several former officials in the administration of Gov. Alejandro García Padilla and affiliated with the party.
PDP President Héctor Ferrer regretted the incident and said that under his leadership there will be no room for corruption.
“It’s embarrassing, regrettable and there are other words that I cannot say publicly,” Ferrer told reporters, adding that the New Progressive Party will revel in the news of the case.
He said the PDP is taking measures to prevent this type of situation from recurring and urged the federal authorities to continue their investigation and arrest whoever needs to be arrested.
Ferrer said the party will conduct its own investigation into the contributions that those arrested by federal authorities in connection to a public funds corruption scheme could have made.
The party leader announced that there currently is “an audit underway, but we have to review the processes due to this issue that arose today. We will take a look at every penny given to the party,” he said.
Moreover, he said, the PDP has its doors open for federal prosecutors to send their staff “because all our documents are available.”
Two of the indicted and arrested by federal authorities, Miguel Sosa and Oscar Rodríguez, are listed as donors of the PDP.
Sosa, in particular, served in positions within the party, such as finance director of then gubernatorial candidate David Bernier as well as field operations.
Ferrer said he lamented what happened to Ramón Orta, former secretary of the Sports and Recreation Department under García Padilla’s administration.
As for Sosa, the PDP’s president said it was necessary to investigate further and that he had always objected to that person and had let several people know.
This is the second round of arrests that has hit the PDP in recent years. During the past government administration, party fundraiser Anaudi Hernández was accused along with nine others for conspiring in a scheme that included various government agencies.
Meanwhile, former PDP President David Bernier was surprised by the magnitude of the accusations made by the federal prosecution against the group, in particular with Orta and Sosa, who were very close to him.
“It is a serious and moving matter,” Bernier said about the alleged acts committed by Orta and Sosa.
Orta was a close collaborator of Bernier when he presided the Puerto Rico Olympic Committee, and Sosa was his competed alongside him in the national fencing team.
Bernier urged Orta to tell the truth. “At times like this, you face it, tell the truth, and if the truth implies there was [wrongdoing], take responsibility,” he said.
In August, Bernier campaign director Liza Ortiz resigned when she was mentioned in fundraiser Hernández’s case.
“Orta was a government official in whom the people of Puerto Rico and I put our trust in to carry out their duties in compliance with the law,” García Padilla said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Eduardo Bhatia, called on the leadership of his party so that, “now, more than ever, an independent and public audit of the finances of the Popular [Democratic] Party [must be performed]….”