PDP candidates announce new web page to access House contracts data
By John McPhaul
Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidates for the Puerto Rico House of Representatives Manuel Calderón Cerame, Juan Torres Montalvo and Ángel “Tito” Fourquet announced on Sunday the creation of a website in which citizens can require their representatives to disclose information regarding contracts in their respective offices, a response, the candidates said, to the many cases of corruption that have arisen in the House.
“After receiving multiple complaints from citizens and reading the letters lodged with the House’s secretary in which they demand that House Speaker Carlos “Johnny” Méndez,make public the information on the contracts and payroll of this legislative body, we have created the web page transparencyenlacamara.com so that Puerto Ricans can submit their request for access to this public information,” Calderón Cerame said.
The candidate for San Juan District 4 said “this approach goes in the direction of knowing all the information concerning what the current NPP [New Progressive Party] legislative majority does with the funds from the budget of the House of Representatives.”
“In addition, one of the commitments that I have made as a candidate for representative is to disclose my entire legislative structure together with a breakdown of salaries and all hiring,” Calderón Cerame said. “This contrasts with the pattern of the current representative of District 4 and with the behavior of the speaker of the House, at a time when several representatives of the NPP have had to resign due to corruption.”
Torres Montalvo, the PDP candidate for District 14, said “there have been many citizens who have expressed outrage and concern over the arrests of various members of the House of Representatives for alleged unlawful schemes to benefit themselves.”
“The people demand to know how each cent that they contribute as taxpayers is invested, so this website is one more tool so that they can request the disclosure of information about contracts,” he said.
Torres Montalvo acknowledged that “although each representative has the freedom to hire his or her office staff, it is worthwhile to address the direct and specific claim that the people made to House Speaker Johnny Méndez through a letter sent to the [lower] chamber’s secretariat in which was requested:
* “A list of all service providers contracted by the House
* The hours billed by [the service providers] and if they render services directly or through a company
* A list of people/individuals hired as providers of professional services by the House of Representatives
* Salaries, authorized increases and time billed.”
Alleged fraud by NPP lawmakers denounced
“The letter to which we have had access states that five elected representatives of the New Progressive Party defrauded the voters and militants of this organization, breaking the trust of a people who expected the most transparent administrative policies and anti-corruption measures on the part of the NPP-led Legislature,” added Fourquet. “Unfortunately, the actions of some members of the NPP leave much to be desired and are far from what an honest public servant should be.”
Fourquet, the PDP candidate for the 24th district of Ponce, said that in their request the citizens from various towns on the island claim to be supported by Law 122-2019 (Open Data Law of the Government of Puerto Rico) and Law 141-2010 (Law of Transparency and Expedited Procedure for Access to Public Information).
“The information that these local [citizens] request is public and is not covered by any reliability provision,” the PDP candidates said. “For this reason, we join this citizen effort and we demand that Speaker Johnny Méndez be transparent and open the books so that we can evaluate the veracity of the actions reported by the press in recent months and if there has been good management of public funds.”
The candidates were backed by several fellow PDP candidates for the House: Rosario “Tata” Ortiz Maldonado (San Juan Precinct 1), José “Pepe” Ortiz (San Juan Precinct 3), Noemí Andújar Torres (District 6), Janice “Nani” Nieves Díaz (District 7), Luis Collazo (District 33) and Ángel Osorio (District 37).