THE CAPITOL – The alternate spokesman for the New Progressive Party (PNP) in the Senate, Carmelo Ríos, announced on Tuesday the filing of a measure of his own that proposes creating the Office for the Protection and Defense of Persons with Disabilities.
Ríos said that although there is currently the Office of the Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities, during the past years that agency “has been plagued by irregularities and accusations by the federal government.”
The senator assured that if this office is not acted on, it could lose millions of dollars in federal funds.
“It is urgent the approval of legislation establishing an independent public entity that operates exclusively in accordance with the requirements of federal laws. With it, it will be achieved that the funds are not classified as high risk, the personnel and facilities to offer the services are maintained. In addition, guarantee the protection and defense that this population so badly needs, ”Ríos said in a written statement.
“The implementation of a federal program required for the granting of funds cannot depend on the administrative decisions of the state or be affected by the dynamics and controversies of the management of the ombudsman or any other entity that provides services, as has happened up to moment. With this law, a public policy focused on increasing autonomy, supervision and accountability is made viable, ”said the senator.
Senate Bill 48 details that this office will watch over and take action against abuse, neglect or other forms of denial of rights and will guarantee that the required programs for people with disabilities are established and implemented.
On the other hand, the body will have a Board of Directors, which will be aware of governance, autonomy, transparency, accountability and will oversee the fulfillment of the goals.
It will consist of 13 members, most of whom should be representatives of the population of people with disabilities and knowledgeable on this topic.
Among the powers that the Office for the Protection and Defense of Persons with Disabilities will have is to provide legal or administrative assistance that guarantees the protection and defense of their rights.
Investigate incidents of abuse or neglect and train officials on the rights of this population, among others.
Data obtained from the 2010 Census estimate that in Puerto Rico there are close to 900 thousand people who suffer from some type of disability.