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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

House Speaker points to NPP’s inability to take charge of Fermín Fontánez’s debacle

House Speaker Rafael ‘Tatito’ Hernández

Alejandra M. Jover Tovar

The House Speaker Rafael “Tatito” Hernández, said that all the controversy surrounding Fermín Fontánez’s performance as executive director of the Public-Private Partnerships Authority (P3A) can be summed up as a matter of inability on the part of the New Progressive Party (NPP) to admit that the LUMA contract was bad and they have to change public policy.

“This all started at the NPP Convention itself when the NPP felt the heat of the party’s base asking for the departure of LUMA, and the secretary of a political convention was complaining to a cabinet official, trying to divert attention from the fact that beyond the official, it is a matter of public policy, of a bad project, a bad law, that you do not have to be an electrical expert, nor an electrical engineer or any person who manages energy systems to know that in Puerto Rico we are paying seven times more for a system that is not efficient,” said Hernández.

The Speaker sees all of this as a strategy on the NPP’s part to deviate the attention from the fact that LUMA’s not holding up its end of the bargain and that it has to go. “Here there is a strategy on the part of the Executive (on Monday) that said that this is passing the buck... I want the people of the country to be aware that public-private partnerships are a governmental structure under the umbrella of the Executive. The energy deal is a governmental structure under the umbrella of the Executive. The P3A, in this case, which in this case is one of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA,) is a structure under the umbrella of the Executive...,” he enumerated.

“What are you talking about, passing the buck? The person in charge here is Pedro Pierluisi. He is the responsible one. His ministerial duty is to comply with and enforce the laws. He is not complying with it, and he is trying to throw attention away from this controversy, which is big and affects all Puerto Ricans, demonstrating his lack of empathy for the pain of the most humble people of Puerto Rico, trying to sacrifice an official,” Hernández said.

“An official is not the one who manages Puerto Rico’s energy system. Oh, there are failures? So Why you don’t fire him? Because when there are failures, it is your duty to dismiss them. What is his claim in the public hearings? “I am complying with public policy.” The other official next to him, engineer Josué Colón, said that the problem, from the beginning, is with the legislation”, the Speaker continued.

“So the approach is straightforward: if he has failed, that is the executive branch’s prerogative. The Executive is keeping him there... Why? To divert attention from the real controversy, that in the next 60 days, a contract has to be extended”, the Speaker added. “Why is it so difficult to first recognize that the transaction was not functional? He is simply defending it as a matter of policy. So the approach is very simple: if they are going to fire him, they should fire him now, but they are not going to divert attention from the reality of the underlying controversy: the contract is bad, and public policy must be changed,” said Hernández.

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