1 2 Wednesday, February 10, 2016 Marine Diver Self-winding movement. Water-resistant to 300m. 18 ct rose gold case. Also available in stainless steel. U LY S S E - N A R D I N. C O M
2 GOOD MORNING, the only paper with 3 February 10, 2016 News Service in English in Puerto Rico, publishes 7 days a week, with a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday edi on, along with a Weekend Edi on to cover Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Differing With Archbishop, Health Chief Insists on Condom Use as Defense Against Zika Local Mainland Business Interna onal Viewpoint Fashion Entertainment INDEX No cias en Español Legal No ces Sports Games Horoscope Cartoons By MARIA MIRANDA SIERRA Health Secretary Ana Ríus insisted Tuesday on the use of condoms to prevent infection by the Zika virus and added that she does not endorse San Juan Archbishop Roberto González s comments made earlier in the day rejecting the use of contraceptives to prevent the spread of the dangerous virus. I am very Catholic, but I have to differ with the Archbishop, Ríus said. You must use condoms and it is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control [CDC] and the Health Department that pregnant women use condoms as well, and any person who has the virus needs to use condoms, Ríus said in an interview with Radio Isla. Ríus reaction came after González issued written statements saying that the teachings of the Catholic Church on the use of condoms are well known. Rather, I strongly invite the people to practice personal discipline, which we believe is the only attitude of rationality and of faith that can radically prevent sexually transmitted diseases, González said in a brief statement. The island has 22 confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne virus. Among them is a pregnant woman in her first trimester who opted to continue her treatment with her personal private doctor and a man who developed a temporary paralysis condition known as Guillain-Barre. Researchers have tentatively linked the virus to birth defects. Ana Ríus On Monday, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi announced that the island is to receive a $250 million allocation through a one-year temporary increase in Medicaid funds. The assignment, made through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is part of some $1.8 billion in emergency funding President Barack Obama is requesting from Congress to combat the virus nationwide. In an announcement Monday, the White House said the money would be used to expand mosquito control programs, speed development of a vaccine, develop diagnostic tests and improve support for low-income pregnant women. Like dengue and chikungunya, Zika is a mosquito-borne virus. The most common symptoms are fever, rash and joint pain. Pregnant women who contract Zika are at risk of complications and a link to Zika is strongly suspected in babies who have been born with microcephaly, a condition characterized by an abnormally small skull and incomplete brain development. The CDC is providing ongoing support to Puerto Rico. On the testing front, officials from the CDC s Dengue Branch -- which is located in San Juan -- have trained officials from the Puerto Rico Department of Health on how to conduct laboratory tests for Zika, and the CDC is also conducting testing itself in Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, the White House issued a fact sheet on the Zika virus Monday morning stating that the Pan American Health Organization has reported 26 countries and territories in the Americas with local Zika transmission. While we have not yet seen transmission of the Zika virus by mosquitoes within the continental United States, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories in warmer areas with Aedes aegpyti mosquito populations are already seeing active transmission, reads the fact sheet. In addition, some Americans have returned to the continental U.S. from affected countries in South America, Central America, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands with Zika infections. Last week, Gov. Alejandro García Padilla signed an executive order declaring a health emergency in Puerto Rico.
3 4 Wednesday, February 10, 2016 Bernier Calls Gov t Failure to Produce Audited Financial Statements Unacceptable By MARIA MIRANDA SIERRA David Bernier Popular Democratic Party (PDP) President and gubernatorial hopeful David Bernier on Tuesday censured his own administration for failing to produce the commonwealth s audited financial statements since 2013 and described the actions as unacceptable. With this move, Bernier for the first time has criticized the administration he served in as secretary of State until just a few months ago. A few weeks after Bernier stepped down from that post, Gov. Alejandro García Padilla announced he would not seek re-election, and shortly after that Bernier announced he would be running for governor under the PDP banner instead. So far, Bernier has been distancing himself from the governor, carefully choosing his words and topics of discussion. But this week he acknowledged that there is no excuse for the situation with the financial statements. On Monday he issued a statement to those ends. On Tuesday in a radio interview Bernier said [t]he lack of audited financial statements will hurt the government s credibility in its efforts to receive positive answers from Congress to be able to address our fiscal crisis and boost our economy. Bernier and House Speaker Jaime Perelló raised the issue of the commonwealth s audited financial statements needing to be submitted to U.S. Congress, where discussions on the possibility of taking action on the island s fiscal crisis are under way. In fact, the House Committee on Natural Resources will hold an oversight hearing on The U.S. Department of Treasury s Analysis of the Situation in Puerto Rico on Feb. 25. U.S. Treasury counselor Antonio Weiss will be testifying at the hearing, as will Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi. It is expected that the commonwealth s audited financial statements will be at the very least be mentioned at the hearing. Perelló called the delay in the publication of the audited financial statements a stone in the road to passage of Congressional legislation to address the island s fiscal crisis. The House speaker insisted that the financial statements, which the government s independent auditors, KPMG, are tasked to produce, need to be made public as soon as possible. The last time the commonwealth s audited financial statements were made public was in It is important that the government of Puerto Rico make public all of the information turned over to KPMG, what they call the so-called draft that they have. That needs to be made public as soon as possible, Perelló said, adding that the governor told him on Monday that the draft will be made public within this next few days. Meanwhile, Senate President Eduardo Bhatia said KPMG has fallen into a vicious circle by continuing to require that the government turn in more information. La Fortaleza Public Affairs Secretary Jesús Manuel Ortiz, meanwhile, said a draft of the financial statements will be available this week. Ortiz reiterated Bhatia s remarks, noting that as recently as Sunday, KPMG asked for more documents, a long list of documents. He said some of the requested information had to do with liquidity reports for certain public corporations. Last week, Treasury Secretary Juan Zaragoza said the only documents yet to be audited included those from the Government Development Bank and the commonwealth s retirement systems.
4 Wednesday, February 10, Vargas Vidot s Endorsements More Than Enough After SEC Lowers Requirement By MARIA MIRANDA SIERRA The State Elections Commission (SEC) issued a resolution establishing that independent Senate atlarge hopeful Dr. José Vargas Vidot only needs to turn in 8,930 endorsements, rather than the 53,000 required under the Electoral Law. According to the document, the new figure was determined by dividing by six the 53,578 endorsements an independent candidate needs to turn in according to the Electoral Law. The divisor of six corresponds to the number of atlarge Senate seats per political party that are up for grabs in the elections. SEC President Liza García made the determination in the absence of the unanimity required by electoral commissioners on the controversy brought before our consideration for disposal and permanent resolution. The deadline for the new number of endorsements required from Vargas Vidot is midnight on Monday, but the health specialist has already turned in 10,000 endorsements to the SEC. The SEC changed the number of endorsements Vargas Vidot had to turn in after he took the matter to court. García issued the resolution before the court ruled in the case. Manuel Izquierdo and Héctor Pabón, Vargas Vidot s attorneys, are now requesting that San Juan Superior Court Judge Aileen Navas dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that it is now academic. Meanwhile, Popular Democratic Party Electoral (PDP) Commissioner Guillermo San Antonio said García s Varga Vidot determination to proceed with the immediate certification of Dr. Vargas Vidot constitutes a historic adjudication that rests on the inherent power of a quasi-judicial body to interpret an unfair standard in tune with applicable constitutional principles and the legitimate pretense of the Electoral Law that the independent candidates [produce] a proper demonstration of support. In a radio interview Tuesday morning, San Antonio stressed that it must be clear that the result reached by the SEC president responds to a very particular situation of one candidate running for an at-large legislative seat, in this case, Vargas Vidot, and doesn t extend to the requirements that the other independent candidates must meet Independent gubernatorial hopeful Manuel Cidre reportedly said García s decision is a partial and exclusive one. I think the figure of 8,930 endorsements is still high, but [more to the point] is the statement of the SEC president, who doesn t even mention the other aspirants to different elective posts running independently, which gives the impression that the SEC is excluding them and that this is a completely onesided determination [rendered] to one person, Cidre said.
5 6 Wednesday, February 10, 2016 Cidre to Keep Collecting Endorsements in Independent Bid for Governor By MARIA MIRANDA SIERRA Independent gubernatorial candidate Manuel Cidre on Tuesday turned in some 2,500 endorsements at the State Elections Commission (SEC), completing the total of 26,343 required by the Electoral Law. In a written statement, Cidre said that to date, out of some 24,343 endorsements he had previously turned in to the SEC, only 9,000 have been reviewed. We are seeking an additional 20 percent to get ahead in case of possible rejections, he said. The candidate added that he is a bit concerned following the approval in the Senate of legislation that seeks to lower the number of endorsements independent candidates must turn in, the public will perceive that the situation has been resolved and won t understand why independent candidates continue collecting endorsements. The legislation is still being considered by the lower chamber. Just as Cidre turned in the remaining endorsements at SEC offices in the Hato Rey sector of San Juan, SEC President Liza García issued a resolution establishing that independent Senate at-large hopeful Dr. José Vargas Vidot only needs to turn in 8,930 endorsements rather than the 53,000 the Electoral Law demanded. All aspiring candidates have a Feb. 15 deadline for turning in endorsements. Although Cidre hasn t taken the matter to the courts as did Vargas Vidot, he has been one of the voices condemning the endorsement process for independent candidates as anti-democratic. In January, Cidre sent letters to New Progressive Party pre-gubernatorial candidates Pedro Pierluisi and Ricardo Rosselló, Popular Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate David Bernier and Puerto Rican Independence Party gubernatorial candidate María de Lourdes Santiago asking them to instruct their respective electoral commissioners at the SEC to to let the voters will flow during the process of validating the endorsements of independent candidates. Bernier and Rosselló have both stated that the number of endorsements required of independent candidates is anti-democratic and needs to be lowered. Cidre said it is outrageous that in the 21st century, Puerto Rico, which that claims to be democratic, still has an archaic, bureaucratic and highly political electoral model. This model is far from being one that promotes democracy and the people s participation, reads the letter Cidre sent to the aforementioned gubernatorial hopefuls. This model has sequestered our island s democracy, the control is established by a political system, unlike many countries in which the electoral system is a legal one. Cidre added that it is time to establish a fair and impartial electoral system, outside of partisan political lines, and contribute to getting the island out of the abyss it is in. The founder of Los Cidrines bakery also sent letters to independent gubernatorial candidate Alexandra Lúgaro and Peoples Working Party President Rafael Bernabe encouraging them to join him in his claim. Lúgaro has also openly objected in recent days to the SEC s process for evaluating collected endorsements. Current law establishes that candidates in primary elections for governor and resident commissioner must submit a maximum of 8,000 endorsements. For independent candidates, the law establishes that 3 percent of the valid votes obtained per elected candidate in the preceding general elections for the public post for which they are running will be used as a basis to calculate the number of endorsements required. In other words, Cidre and Lúgaro each have to turn in 26,343 endorsements while Bernier, Rosselló, Pierluisi, and Santiago only need to turn in 8,000 apiece.
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7 8 Wednesday, February 10, 2016 Obama Budget Includes Health Funding Parity, Earned Income Credit for PR By JOHN MCPHAUL President Barack Obama, responding to Puerto Rico s unprecedented debt crisis, included the island in the proposed budget for fiscal year 2017, giving Puerto Rico state-like treatment under Medicaid and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Gov. Alejandro García Padilla expressed his appreciation to the president. I thank the Obama administration for defending the 3.5 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico who are facing a crisis without precedent, García Padilla said. The measures in the president s budget, if approved by Congress, will help Puerto Rico restructure its debt and grow its economy, and will guarantee that Puerto Rico has access to health services. The governor called on Congress to pass the budget with dispatch. I insist that Congress give to Puerto Rico the tools that we need to arrive at a sustainable, long-term solution, he said. Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi also expressed his approval in a rare show of unity between Puerto Rico s two principal political parties. I am pleased that the President s budget for Fiscal Year 2017 proposes to improve Puerto Rico s treatment under federal health and tax credit programs, Pierluisi said in a written statement. Each of these proposals is based on legislation I have introduced in Congress. The budget conditions the total lifting of the Medicaid limit on the compliance with certain parameters in the management of federal funds, but envisions giving Puerto Rico access to close to $2.8 billion a year over the next decade, an average increase over current levels of $1 billion a year, according to local press reports. The Medicaid proposal in the president s budget is in line with a bill Pierluisi introduced in Congress in June 2015, the Improving the Treatment of the U.S. Territories Under Federal Health Programs Act, and a companion bill introduced in the Senate by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Puerto Rico s shameful treatment under Medicaid harms quality of life in the territory and has compelled the Puerto Rico government to over-borrow in the private capital markets to compensate for the shortfall in federal support, which has contributed to large deficits and debt, Pierluisi said. The President s budget estimates that this proposal, if enacted, will result in increased funding for Puerto Rico s health care system of $30 billion over the next 10 years, said the resident commissioner and New Progressive Party president and candidate for governor. The budget also proposes to give Puerto Rico fair treatment under the Medicare DSH program, which Pierluisi proposed in Section 203 of H.R. 2635, his comprehensive health bill. Since the 1980s, the federal government has provided additional financial support directly to hospitals that treat a higher portion of the most vulnerable population groups, Medicaid recipients, as well as low-income beneficiaries of Medicare and the uninsured, the resident commissioner said. However, the payment formula is based, in part, on the number of patients included in the program of Supplemental Security Income [SSI] and therefore operates to the disadvantage of Puerto Rico, because Congress has not extended SSI to the territory. Pierluisi said that both the president s budget and his bill propose using a different formula for Puerto Rico, which is expected to increase payments to hospitals on the island by $70 million in the next 10 years. In September 2015 Pierluisi also proposed the Earned Income Tax Credit Equity for Puerto Rico Act to address Puerto Rico s unequal treatment under the EITC. Sen. Robert Menéndez (D-N.J.) introduced an identical bill in the Senate. Puerto Rico s unequal treatment under the EITC, which encourages low-income individuals to obtain employment, is a major reason why the poverty rate is higher and the labor participation rate is lower in Puerto Rico than they are in every state and the District of Columbia, Pierluisi said. The President s budget estimates that fair treatment under the EITC will result in increased funding for Puerto Rico working families of $6.6 billion over the next decade. The FY 2017 budget also urges Congress to approve a debt restructuring mechanism for Puerto Rico. Pierluisi has introduced legislation to give Puerto Rico Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, but the move is opposed by Republicans and by most of Puerto Rico s creditors. Popular Democratic Party President and gubernatorial candidate David Bernier also lauded the president s FY 2017 budget where it concerns Puerto Rico s fiscal crisis. The action taken today by President Barack Obama to include in the budget a package of measures to attend to the Puerto Rico fiscal crisis is not only an affirmative step but a necessary one in the search for solutions to take the finances of the country forward, Bernier said. Pierluisi Calls on Bernier to Renounce New Taxes By JOHN MCPHAUL New Progressive Party (NPP) candidate for governor and Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi challenged his Popular Democratic Party (PDP) opponent and PDP President David Bernier to join the effort to stop implantation of the valueadded-tax (IVA by its Spanish acronym) and the increase in the taxes for services between companies, better known as B2B, that goes into effect next April. As I said in a letter to the governor in the past few weeks, I gave an order to the NPP to draft bills to the stop the implementation of the VAT and the increase in the B2B, said Pierluisi, according to CyberNews. Now it is the Popular Party s turn to act and be part of the solution. It s never too late rectify a position and for that I call again on David Bernier to order his party to stop the IVA and other tax burdens that soon go into effect. Pierluisi also asked Bernier to order the PDP delegation in the Legislature to support the bills filed to this effect by the NPP. The resident commissioner said that Monday afternoon the Economic Activity Index was released and fell farther than it had in a decade, the sale of cars had its worst January ever and the foreclosures on mortgages continue to increase, but this government continues in its plan to impose more taxes. Today we see how the economy continues to contract, precisely from the plethora of taxes and contributions that the Popular Party and the candidate David Bernier approved without reason, Pierluisi said. Not heeding my call, what Bernier offers to the public is the same as García Padilla: more taxes and spending on public services, Pierluisi said. The NPP president insisted that the IVA will cause an increase in the cost of doing business in Puerto Rico. Bernier did not return a request for comment. Pedro Pierluisi
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9 10 Wednesday, February 10, 2016 Ex-Senator De Castro Font Released from Prison By JOHN MCPHAUL After serving eight years in federal and state prison, former New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Jorge de Castro Font was freed Tuesday from the Bayamón correctional complex. De Castro Font left prison just after 9:30 in the morning under a probationary program of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation that permits him to be in the community using an electronic anklet, reported Inter News Service. The former legislator went directly to his home in the Parque Loyola Condominium in Hato Rey, which where he resided when he was a senator. Before entering his house, de Castro Font told Telemundo television that in jail he learned to appreciate life, love my loved ones and believe in God. On the steps that he must follow, he said he must comply with the conditions that were imposed on him, what the law says. We Steam Clean.. 2 Matresses - Any Size! They [the corrections department] will give me the pertinent instructions, he said. The ex-senator has to comply with one hour of work and study a day, as well as remain in his residence unless an emergency arises, but he has to inform a penal technician before he leaves. He cannot ingest alcohol or controlled substances. lncluded dust mite anti allergent for only $ regular price $ save $ sofá 1 love seat for $ regular price $ save $50.00 (dry time 45 minute) Jorge de Castro Font CARPET WE ARE YOUR INDOOR ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANING SOLUTION RESIDENTIAL COMMERCIAL INDUSTRIES Metro Area Only Special until February 15, 2016 Dust Mites is one of ASTHMA sufferers worst enemies!! CARPET Sale Commercial/ Residential 10% Off Discount - Only in Cleaning Services For More Information Call Us (787) (787) (787) As for his family, he revealed that he hasn t seen his father since Sept. 27, The elder de Castro Font suffers from advanced Alzheimer s disease. Tomorrow, I have to report to the office of Corrections for the anklet and to the Probation Office, the former senator said. From there, I m going to see him in his house in Miramar. Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation secretary-designate Elnar Ramos Ramos said that yesterday the committee confirmed that the ex-senator de Castro qualified to leave the prison institution and recommended that today he could leave in a probation program with a system of electronic monitoring or GPS. The ex-legislator has already received the warnings. The former NPP legislator was accused By JOHN MCPHAUL Federal district attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez asked Gov. Alejandro García Padilla to request more resources during his next trip to Washington, D.C. to fill vacant positions at federal security agencies in Puerto Rico. Upon leaving a meeting between local and federal law enforcement agencies with the governor, Rodríguez told the press that the governor offered his help in certain areas. When he says that he is going to travel to the United States, well, on that occasion, he is going to help us on the question of resources and other things, Rodríguez said. The federal agencies have many vacancies and he is going to help us with that. At the meeting, the officials followed up on the initiative on arms and reduction of violence to assure ourselves that everything is functioning well. From December 31, 2011 to December of 2015 we have lowered murders by over 51 percent, we have been discussing [with the governor] how we can improve that initiative a little more every day, Rodríquez said. at the state and federal level of using his power in the Senate for personal gain. In December 2009, Special Independent Counsel Ernie Cabán presented 182 charges against De Castro Font, among them bribery, extortion and violation of the Governmental Ethics Law, reported Inter News Service. At the state level, De Castro Font pleaded guilty in September 2012 to 93 counts of extortion, bribery, perjury, violations of the electoral law, illegal appropriation due to tax evasion and violations of the Internal Revenue Code for not submitting tax returns and for false reports, said the news service. De Castro Font was sentenced on May 17, 2011 to five years in prison and three years of supervised liberty for 21 counts of fraud for depriving the people of Puerto Rico of honest services and conspiracy to commit extortion. Feds Ask Governor to Help Fill Security Posts Attorney General José Capó made similar statements. He said the initiatives and their results were discussed to adjust that which we can still improve upon. A large drop in the murder rate has been attributed to arms legislation signed into law in 2013 making illegal possession of weapons a felony and not a misdemeanor. The law has been credited for removing many criminals from the streets. The officials confirmed that petitions have been made at the state level for more funds for those areas that require additional contributions, but not only economic, the governor can make requests on the outside, with federal agencies, Capó said. At the meeting officials also discussed cases of carjacking where the authorities have shared jurisdiction, said Police Superintendent José Caldero. He reaffirmed that the case of the carjacking and murder of Francelis Ortiz Pagán will remain under commonwealth jurisdiction. Four suspects have been arrested in the case. Nine more homicides have been committed this year compared with the previous year, the officials acknowledged.