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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor says he did his job with mayor of Ponce, now it’s up to the PDP

Ponce Mayor Luis Manuel Irizarry Pabón

By John McPhaul

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia commented Thursday on the situation facing Ponce Mayor Luis Manuel Irizarry Pabón, who is under investigation by a special independent prosecutor (FEI by its Spanish initials), saying the immediate fate of the mayor should be left up to the leadership of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP).

“What I’ve seen is that my administration did its job,” the governor said in response to questions from the press. “The Justice secretary made the recommendation to the FEI Panel to appoint a special independent prosecutor. I hope that the panel … agrees and that this investigation is done thoroughly, and then we will know what the result of it is.”

“In the meantime, what I can say is that it is important that all municipalities are managed without distractions, and there I see a great distraction,” Pierluisi added. “It is up to the leadership of the Popular [Democratic] Party to determine if what is best for the people of Ponce is for them [PDP elected officials] to concentrate on defending themselves and not managing all these distractions that I know are not good for the people of Ponce.”

The Ponce mayor is under investigation by the FEI Panel in relation to a personal loan that municipal employees have allegedly paid off. In addition, last week it emerged that a trust official had his salary increased to cover loan payments.

Following reports that Irizarry Pabón is under investigation, rumors emerged that federal agents visited Ponce City Hall. That information was neither confirmed nor denied. When approached by journalists during an emergency meeting of the Ponce Municipal Committee, Irizarry Pabón said he is holding onto his seat as mayor and that he will not resign, a pronouncement he made referring to himself in the third person.

The mayor also rejected a move by the PDP leadership to appoint former House Speaker and former judge Carlos Vizcarrondo Irizarry as a party presidential delegate in Ponce, effectively relieving Irizarry Pabón from his duties related to that post.

Meanwhile, former Ponce mayor Francisco “Ico” Zayas Seijo on Thursday called Irizarry Pabón’s rejection of Vizcarrondo as delegate to the PDP Central Committee “a huge mistake.”

“I see it as difficult for him,” Zayas Seijo said in a radio interview. “And with what he did last night, then, even worse; that is, he gathered the central committee of the party and unanimously rejected Carlos Vizcarrondo, which I think was a huge mistake and more so when you look at the person he [Vizcarrondo] is. Carlos Vizcarrondo has an impressive intellectual height and [record in] public service, and was doing a favor for Ponce and for the party, [and so Irizarry Pabón] coming here and rejecting him tells me that he is the one who is going to do it, and what he does is complicate things more and more, something that is not right.”

“The [Popular Democratic] party has to do something,” the former mayor added. “I do not know what the Rules of Procedure allow, but I believe that it has to act. Let’s give it time because what [the PDP] has is six or eight hours. Remember that you journalists have to go on the air now and all that, but the party has to [conduct] well-considered consultations.”

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