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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor urges PDP to refrain from protagonistic posturing on Electoral Code

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on Tuesday urged Popular Democratic Party (PDP) legislative leaders to lay off protagonistic posturing and be pragmatic about improvements in the Electoral Code after the recent approval of amendments in the island House of Representatives.

“I would like us to leave the limelight aside and be pragmatic and realistic,” Pierluisi said in response to questions from the press. “Those [amendments to the code] were finished and unfortunately it occurred when the amendments that had a consensus of the two main parties were about to be approved. So [PDP President Jesús Manuel Ortiz González] wanted to insert himself into the process, and the problem was that he reached agreements with other parties.”

The debate over amendments to the Electoral Code has generated discussions among the island’s main political parties, with concerns raised about the prominence and interest of different political factions.

“The president of the PDP has to sit down with the president of the Senate [José Luis Dalmau Santiago] and decide if any changes should be made, and present them to the spokesman of my party, the NPP [New Progressive Party],” the governor said.

Dalmau Santiago said Tuesday that before addressing, or not, the amendments to the Electoral Code, he will meet with Ortiz González and Speaker of the House of Representatives Rafael Hernández Montañez.

“I’m not going to go into that much detail. The House of Representatives approved a bill of amendments to the Electoral Code that now goes to the Senate. I would like to see the complete document, although it has been said that it is part of a document, of a bill of my authorship, [No.] 909, but it underwent amendments that I have not seen at this time,” Dalmau Santiago said in response to questions from the press. “Meanwhile, there is a separation between what the legislative intention is when filing a bill and the decision of a party to look after its electoral interests. I prefer to have a conversation with the president of the party, who is currently outside Puerto Rico, and with the speaker of the House -- at this time I have not spoken with either of them -- before making a judgment about something that we can work on, dialogue and discuss.”

“Well, like every measure that comes from the House, I have to take it up in the Senate,” the leader of the upper chamber said. “... But I don’t want to get into that because the legislative chambers are made up of people from many parties. And legislative initiatives are presented here, apart from whether there are guidelines in legislative conferences or guidelines from the parties as an institution.”

In response to a question about the previous exclusion of Ortiz González from the discussions, the governor said: “We are not excluding him. It is an internal matter between the president of the PDP and his delegations.”

The governor confirmed that NPP stalwart Edwin Mundo studied in detail the amendments approved by the House, and that they have the green light of his administration, demonstrating a flexible position toward possible changes.

When asked about the criticism voiced by the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) regarding the exclusion of minority parties in the crafting of an amended Electoral Code, the governor said his administration does not support certain proposals, such as one involving the “pivazos,” or so-called “triple-cross” votes, which have been rejected by the Puerto Rico Supreme Court.

Pierluisi also stressed that they are willing to work with the PDP, considering that the approval of the measures is mainly between that party and the NPP, and that any reasonable proposal from other parties will be considered.

Hernández Montañez weighed in later on Tuesday, saying that the PDP president knew that the draft amendments to the Electoral Code were going to be approved on the first day of the regular session, and maintained that the amendments are those that Ortiz González himself proposed, not “those of the demonic coalition … of the PIP and the Citizen Victory Movement who are in general opposed, of course, because what they called for is not in the bill.”

“The bill was discussed in the caucus,” the House speaker said. “The bill has been tested three times, a version by the … president of the Senate was approved, a version by [Deputy House Speaker José Manuel] Conny Varela was approved, the last version of comrade Jesús Manuel Ortiz was approved. It is the same bill, so it has been discussed. On August 11, at the beginning of every session, we had a caucus. In the caucus, the agenda was presented and everyone knew, including the party president and members of the Popular Party delegation who participated, … that the proposal was what we can achieve.”

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