Acevedo Vilá: González Colón must break ‘silence’ on possible funding loss
By John McPhaul
Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for resident commissioner Aníbal Acevedo Vilá called on Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón on Thursday to respond to reports from La Fortaleza officials who confirm that the two-term member of Congress knew, as far back as July, that the Puerto Rico government could lose more than $1.1 billion in federal funding.
Likewise, the PDP leader demanded that the candidate for governor for the New Progressive Party (NPP), Pedro Pierluisi, state plainly on Thursday, the day of the gubernatorial candidates’ debate, if he had knowledge or was informed by his running mate, González Colón, that there was a serious threat of the loss of federal funds.
In a report by José Delgado for El Nuevo Día, two sources from the administration of Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced said the resident commissioner had been informed since July that the government would stop using a large portion of the $2.9 billion allocated to the island this federal fiscal year (which ends Sept. 30) under the Medicaid program.
“The first responsibility of a resident commissioner is to make sure congressional appropriations get to the people without delay and without excuses. It is inconceivable that Jenniffer González knew about this unforgivable negligence and did absolutely nothing,” Acevedo Vilá said in a radio interview. “There are 1.4 million Puerto Ricans, participants in the Medicaid program, who today are in danger of ceasing to receive medical services due to the irresponsibility of the NPP government. This is a case of government malpractice.”
The former governor added in the interview that as he sees it, a code of silence exists between Vázquez and González Colón regarding the issue.
“Here there is a shared responsibility between Jenniffer and Wanda Vázquez for this scandal, without a doubt,” Acevedo Vilá said. “From La Fortaleza they pointed out to González the probability that these funds would be lost; it is already public knowledge, and now neither of the two has expressed themselves on this delicate issue. They think that keeping silence avoids the issue, but it is the opposite.”
The candidate for resident commissioner added that he will be sending letters to the congressional leadership requesting that the term of use of the funds be extended and pointing out that “the PDP, once it wins the elections, will submit an action plan to release the federal funds withheld, either because of the mismanagement of funds or the negligence of the NPP government in dragging its feet when it comes to effectively disbursing congressional appropriations.”
“She [González Colón] maintained that she continues to communicate with members of Congress about the interest in bringing back the large-scale pharmaceutical industry, in order to create new jobs,” Acevedo Vilá said. “We continue to work toward that purpose and we expect affirmative action in that direction soon. While some stand out for their inaction, others work every day to create jobs and straighten out the chaos of this government.”