• The San Juan Daily Star

Public Education Defense Front files objection to PAD certification

Attorneys for the Public Education Defense Front argue that certification of Puerto Rico’s debt adjustment plan would leave more than 20,000 active teachers in limbo upon retirement.

By The Star Staff

The Emmanuelli Law Firm filed an objection in federal court late last week on behalf of the Public Education Defense Front (FADEP by its Spanish acronym), in response to the motion of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico to confirm the 8th Debt Adjustment Plan (PAD).

In their legal argument, FADEP’s lawyers indicated that the elimination of the sections of laws 160-2013, 106-2017 and 91-2004 as indicated by the oversight board would leave the Teachers Retirement System inoperative and, therefore, more than 20,000 active teachers in limbo upon retirement.

The oversight board proposes to eliminate all the sections that guarantee continuity of lifetime pensions for defined benefits to teachers, equivalent to 75% of their salary after 30 years of service. In this way they would give way to the freezing of future pensions, condemning teachers to indigence once they retire, according to FADEP. However, U.S. District Court Judge Laura Tayor Swain, who is presiding over Puerto Rico’s Title III bankruptcy processes, has already resolved the situation in the past by pointing out that the elimination of sections of current laws requires a substitute enabling law that makes the PAD viable.

That requirement is established by section 314 (b) of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), yet it has not happened, FADEP’s attorneys pointed out, therefore making the modified 8th PAD is unconfirmable. As an example, the adjustment plan approved by the city of Detroit required an enabling law to leave public servants without retirement.

FADEP membership has already forcefully rejected such intentions through their vote on three occasions: in June 2019 and in September 2021 before what it considers a despicable agreement between the Puerto Rico Teachers Association oversight board, and then in the vote conducted by the federal court itself through the Prime Clerk’s office.

“The Plan … intends to deprive our people of a dignified life, delivering our multimillion dollar savings in the General Fund reserve, for the payment of an odious debt that they refuse to audit,” FADEP said in a statement.

Given this scenario, with the legal bases identified, the The Emmanuelli Law Firm, on behalf of the FADEP groups, is asking Judge Swain not to confirm the PAD. Now, FADEP will wait for the judge’s determination before discussing the next steps to take with teachers, the group said.

9 views0 comments