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PDP representative urges governor not to eliminate debt audit commission

By on April 19, 2017

SAN JUAN – Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Rep. Carlos Bianchi was urging Gov. Ricardo Rosselló on Wednesday not to sign Senate Bill 428, which would eliminate the Commission for the Comprehensive Audit of the Public Credit.

“The people of Puerto Rico are raising their voices against the elimination of this law. This government continues its pattern of going against all those who think differently,” he said in a written statement.

On Tuesday, a clash ensued in the Capitol’s north wing between police officers and protesters, who demanded access to the legislative session during which the Senate approved S.B. 428, one day after the New Progressive Party (NPP) presented it. The bill seeks to eliminate the debt audit commission, stating that the Financial Oversight & Management Board created by the federal Promesa law is already in charge of auditing the island’s $71 billion debt.

Demonstrators questioned whether the administration had underlying motives to not make the auditing process public, and insisted the people have a right to know whether some of the multibillion-dollar debt was issued illegally. Meanwhile, police officers formed a barricade to prevent demonstrators from entering the Capitol–as requested by House Speaker Carlos “Johnny” Méndez for “security reasons”–even though Puerto Rico’s Constitution establishes that legislative hearings must be publicly held.

(Cindy Burgos/CB)

(Cindy Burgos/CB)

As tensions flared, police officers pepper-sprayed protesters and others retaliated, leaving 21 officers wounded, as well as some members of the press.

See also: Puerto Rico Senate approves bill to eliminate debt audit commission

“The commission’s members could have been changed, but repealing the law in unacceptable,” Bianchi stressed. “The confrontation we saw [Tuesday] hadn’t been seen in years in our country. We can’t allow this government to continue this pattern of abuse….”

Finally, Bianchi pointed out that it is highly questionable that a public hearing wasn’t held to analyze the elimination of the bill.

Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz wrote a Facebook post Tuesday night in which he criticized the “violent atmosphere,” “vandalism” and “aggression” that took place outside the Capitol, and defended the decision to deny entry to demonstrators. “Public access is important, but it is subordinate to safety,” he affirmed.

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