• The San Juan Daily Star

Méndez Núñez: Majority in Legislature playing politics with abused minors

Rep. Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Núñez

By The Star Staff

The New Progressive Party (NPP) minority leader in the island House of Representatives, Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Núñez, accused the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) majority in the Legislature on Monday of taking “hostage” minors who are victims of abuse for partisan political reasons by failing to take up a measure that would secure $800 million in federal funds to pay social workers in the extraordinary session to begin this week.

“The least productive Legislature in history, not only in Puerto Rico, but in the United States, now refuses to work to pass a measure aimed at helping, with millions of dollars in federal funds, to address child abuse on the island,” Méndez Núñez said. “The PDP is taking hostage the victims of this terrible social evil only for political-partisan reasons. This has become a game for the leadership of the popular party in the House and the Senate who could care less about the loss of almost $800 million for the payment of social workers who handle these cases, among others.”

Méndez Núñez made reference to statements by House Speaker Rafael “Tatito” Hernández Montañez and Senate President José Luis Dalmau Santiago that they will not take up any of the six measures contained in the call for an extraordinary session, including the House Bill 911 (Senate Bill 537) which implements the federal Law for the Prevention of Abuse and Preservation of the Family Unit, better known as the “Family First” bill, which represents a dramatic change in the structure of the services provided to families experiencing separation and in the services to minors in family environments at risk.

“The PDP has become an instrument of obstruction, by which it is only interested in opposing. We saw this when the Speaker of the House, for no reason, came down and stopped the appointment of [former NPP Sen.] Larry Seilhamer as Secretary of State,” said Méndez Núñez, a former speaker of the House. “He did it for political-partisan reasons, not because of the merits of the then-nominee. In this case -- Family First -- it is worse, since not tending to this measure represents too high a risk for abused children. What can we expect from a Legislature that averages less than one meeting per week of ordinary session? It is obvious that they do not want to work. We are going to be present and we will take action because our children cannot be hostages to a political game.”

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