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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Ponce mayor says prosecutor who referred complaint against him responds to NPP

Ponce Mayor Luis Manuel Irizarry Pabón

By The Star Staff

Ponce Mayor Luis Manuel Irizarry Pabón said this week that the prosecutor who referred him to the Special Independent Prosecutor Panel (PFEI by its Spanish initials) answers directly to the New Progressive Party (NPP).

He said the mother of the prosecutor works for NPP Sen. Thomas Rivera Schatz, who in turn is “the godfather” of Pablo Colón Santiago, an NPP candidate for mayor of Ponce.

“One of my teachers in what is called being a public official, Rafael ‘Churumba’ Cordero Santiago, our great mayor, taught me, and told me, and he also told the public, that it is important to keep looking,” Irizarry Pabón said in a video posted Wednesday on his social networks. “And in this I want to make this point: As you know, the Department of Justice did a preliminary investigation into some allegations or a complaint that a person made to the department and that they have their right to do this investigation. We have always respected that process. But since the Department of Justice through a prosecutor, Mr. Pedro Mateu, referred [the case] to the Special Independent Prosecutor Panel to continue investigating, we want to make this point: A prosecutor identified with the New Progressive Party, being an analyst, doing an investigation that has clearly been an investigation that we believe has not been correct. Because I go back and repeat, appearance is very important. A politically identified prosecutor, whose mother is an assistant to the senator, Mr. Rivera Schatz, when several weeks ago, the senator made some accusations that I am corrupt and that I am going to be accused.”

“And those who have lent themselves, because they do not have the votes, to damage the image of this mayor and my work team, in due course, are going to have to answer to the people,” Irizarry Pabón continued. “I thank the people of Ponce, I have faced them, I do not hide, I will continue working so that the City of Ponce continues forward.”

The mayor went on to refer to Rivera Schatz as “the godfather of the one who wants to be a candidate for mayor in the City of Ponce,” that being “Mr. Pablo Colón,” and appeared to cast doubt on the content of the complaint against him.

“And those people who have lent themselves to give false information, at the time, are not going to respond to the mayor, they are going to respond to the City of Ponce,” Irizarry Pabón said.

The mayor, who described himself in the message as a “rookie,” added that he “respects” the Popular Democratic Party, despite the fact that he rejected the imposition of a special delegate in former legislator Carlos Vizcarrondo Irizarry.

According to press reports, Irizarry Pabón is allegedly being investigated for making municipal employees pay off a personal loan with which the current mayor paid for part of his political campaign. It has been mentioned that he increased the salary of a director of a municipal unit so that the individual would be able to cover the repayment of the loan. The mayor has not publicly rejected those allegations.

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