PDP lawmakers go to court to force start of transition process
By John McPhaul
Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Reps. Rafael “Tatito” Hernández, José “Conny” Varela, Lydia Méndez Silva and Roberto Rivera Ruiz de Porras announced Wednesday the filing of an appeal by mandamus against the speaker of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Núñez, to begin the transition process.
“Given the inaction of the outgoing speaker to initiate the transition processes, without further delay or obstacles, we have been obliged to go to the judicial forum to resolve this matter that is of high public interest,” Rivera Ruiz de Porras said, accompanied by the other plaintiffs.
Rivera Ruiz de Porras said that on Nov. 23, Hernández Montañez -- who hopes to become the new House speaker -- sent an official communication to Méndez Núñez to inform him of the names of the members of the incoming transition committee in order to begin the work related to the transition in the legislative assembly, according to Administrative Order 2016-02 (OA-2016-02).
A day later, Méndez Núñez replied in writing that he would not start the process until the State Elections Commission issued an official certification of the winners.
“Following the refusal of Johnny Méndez, on November 28 we sent a second written communication, reiterating our request to begin the transition process and illustrating the similar situation that occurred in the Municipality of San Juan,” Rivera Ruiz de Porras said. “In this instance, the [Puerto Rico] Supreme Court ruled, in the Romero Lugo versus Cruz Soto case (CT-2020-26), that the preliminary certifications, even in the cases in which a recount is carried out, are sufficient to initiate the transition processes. Therefore, we do not understand the intransigence of the speaker regarding this situation.”
“Unfortunately, the provisions of this administrative order have been breached by the speaker of the House,” Rivera Ruiz de Porras added. “Despite the fact that we have sent him several communications and in full knowledge of the current rule of law, the outgoing speaker continues to be determined not to comply with his powers and obligations.
“Likewise, he has prevented his subordinates from carrying out the guidelines of OA-2016-02. Therefore, after following all available communication channels, we have asked the Honorable Court, under the protection of Rule 54 of Civil Procedure, to issue an order from Mandamus Perentorio so that Méndez Núñez fulfills his ministerial duty to initiate immediately and without delay, the transition process in the House of Representatives.”