Bill to restore Constitution, Barbosa days as official holidays clears House panel

By The Star Staff

The House Government Committee, chaired by Popular Democratic Party Rep. Jesús Manuel Ortiz González, on Tuesday marked up Senate Bill 86, which would reinstate Commonwealth Constitution Day and the celebration of statesman José Celso Barbosa, a prominent early champion of statehood for Puerto Rico, as holidays for public employees.

The holiday dates, which have traditionally been celebrated on July 25 and July 27, were excluded as official holidays after Act 26-2017, known as the “Fiscal Plan Compliance Law,” was enacted.

“For many years, the week that included the holidays of the Constitution of Puerto Rico and the birthday of Dr. José Celso Barbosa, held on July 25 and July 27, respectively, was used by Puerto Rican families for vacation,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Ramón Ruiz Nieves. “This translated into an injection for our economy, especially our inns and tourist areas.”

According to the bill, which is co-authored by Sen. Gregorio Matías Rosario, “July 25 has been a commemorative day for the celebration of the historic feat carried out by illustrious Puerto Ricans who, when drafting our Constitution as an avant-garde document that protects the rights of all, established a republican government and outlined the governmental structure that has governed our island since then.”

“This Legislative Assembly recognizes the importance of this momentous date in our history as a people,” Ruiz Nieves said. “Faced with the achievement of a non-colonial, non-territorial political status, our Constitution can and will survive, since it was written by Puerto Rican men and women, of diverse ideologies, who did not think about their ideals, but about the well-being of future generations by drafting a document that will be able to withstand the onslaught of time and political ups and downs.”

The measure also adds the educator, writer and women’s rights activist Ana Roque de Duprey to Patriotic Women and Men of Puerto Rico Day.

With nine votes in favor and one vote against, the measure was approved by the committee and will soon go to a vote in the regular session.

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