• The Star Staff

Pierluisi: Seilhamer’s comments on Puerto Rico’s status ‘are more than obvious’

Urges more positive approach to political affairs, says island will come out of bankruptcy ‘in the near future’

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @pete_r_correa

Special to The Star

Referring to statements made by secretary of State-designate Larry Seilhamer about the economic difficulties Puerto Rico faces when it comes to obtaining statehood, which sparked negative reactions on social media from other pro-statehood New Progressive Party leaders over the weekend, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia agreed on Monday that the comments “are more than obvious.”

But Pierluisi continued to defend Seilhamer, saying that he is a “statehooder from birth and he doesn’t need to prove that to anyone.”

He called for critics to turn the page and focus on every issue, including the island’s political status, “from a positive perspective, not a negative one.”

“Puerto Rico is in a bankruptcy process and it will be positive for all the pending issues in this island, including the status issue, that we emerge from that bankruptcy,” Pierluisi said as he continued to call on the federal Financial Oversight and Management Board to submit a debt adjustment plan “that is sustainable so that the court can then make a decision on the matter.”

“We must remember that when this adjustment plan is submitted and the court approves it, in whatever form it is submitted or in the modified form, that is practically the end of the Puerto Rico government’s bankruptcy,” the governor said. “Obviously, if there are appeals, it remains pending.”

Meanwhile, Pierluisi reiterated that ending the island’s bankruptcy would be positive as Puerto Rico still faces a $73 billion fiscal debt that stands in the way of efforts to develop its economy and “our aspiration to have equal rights as a state of the United States.”

“It is demeaning that Puerto Rico is in the process of bankruptcy, and we cannot deny that,” the governor said. “It’s a hindrance, that bankruptcy is a hindrance.”

“But we are going to get out of it. I am sure we are going to get out of it in the near future,” he added. “So that concern that some may have that it will delay the status issue is academic, it is going to become academic.”

Pierluisi pointed out that a state cannot have a financial oversight and management board and that with the island becoming a U.S. state, the oversight board would dissolve.

“That’s the other benefit of statehood,” he said.

When asked about the Legislative Assembly’s offensive, in which through a concurrent resolution filed by Senate President José Luis Dalmau on Sunday it is calling on the oversight board to prevent the use of public funds to pay salaries to six pro-statehood emissaries to be elected in May, the governor said the Legislature “does not hold that power.”

“Unfortunately, as a result of the bankruptcy of the government of Puerto Rico, the insolvency of the government of Puerto Rico, who has the last word in budgetary matters is the oversight board,” Pierluisi said. “They [majority legislators] can make all the noise they want, but it won’t make any difference.”

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