Citizen Victory Movement candidate presents anti-corruption proposals
By The Star Staff
Submitting amendments to the Transparency and Open Data laws, promoting independent and citizen oversight, and passing legislation that discourages both political investment and impunity for corrupt public officials are some of the proposals presented by Eva Prados Rodríguez, a candidate for San Juan District 3 representative under the Citizen Victory Movement (CVM) banner.
The candidate promises to promote a government that is accountable, participatory, and truly offers citizens free access to public information.
“For years citizens have demanded that the rulers be transparent in the management of public funds and that they be held accountable,” said Prados Rodríguez, who was a spokesman for the Citizen Front for the Debt Audit. “Failure to do so has had dire consequences for this and future generations, such as public indebtedness and high levels of mistrust in the face of government corruption.”
She noted that Puerto Rico is the jurisdiction with the 10th highest number of government corruption cases in the United States and that the federal prosecutor’s office has processed 375 convictions of this type in the past 10 years. Among her legislative proposals to eradicate government corruption, she mentioned the creation of specialized anti-corruption chambers and the training of judges and prosecutors to deal with such cases.
In addition, Prados Rodríguez plans to overhaul the review process for appointments to the Special Independent Prosecutor Panel so that, in their selection, there is participation of civil society and professional entities. She will also recommend a single term for the members of that panel. She also supports legislation proposed by the CVM’s candidate for mayor of San Juan, Manuel Natal, so that all public officials convicted of corruption return the public funds for which they were prosecuted.
In the area of transparency and government oversight, she proposes expanding the Open Data Law to all government agencies, including the Legislative Assembly. Last week, after the arrest of two legislators from the New Progressive Party (NPP) for alleged appropriation of public funds, Prados Rodríguez asked the leaders of the House and Senate to make public the salaries of all personnel who work in the Legislative Assembly.
“The blatant response of these two elected leaders is that this request would be very onerous,” said Prados Rodríguez, an attorney, while insisting on the citizen’s right to know how public money is used in that body made up of elected officials.
To end the practice of so-called ghost employees, it is urgent that Capitol staff positions and salaries be posted on legislative websites, she said.
She also proposed legislation to discourage political investment. Recently, a public accountant and donor to the NPP was arrested for allegedly being part of a scheme to obtain contracts from government agencies.
“To end the ‘today for you, tomorrow for me,’ we must establish transparent, competitive and accessible contracting processes for professional services in the government, where the calls or requests for proposals are published on the internet, on social networks and in newspapers,” Prados Rodríguez said. “This will promote competition and scrutiny on the part of the public.”
Among other measures that she will present upon being elected in San Juan District 3, is to prohibit the appointment of people to a public agency who have economic interests in companies or businesses regulated by that agency. The CVM candidate will also promote the recommendations of the Center for Law and Democracy to amend the Transparency Law and the Open Data Law, so that they apply to all branches of government and financial fines are imposed on officials and agencies that do not respond to requests for information.
“The collapse in public trust in public service is going to be one of the first issues that I will address, always promoting participation, access to information and zero impunity for corruption,” Prados Rodríguez said.