July 28, 2021

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Present project to create the Department of Military Affairs of Puerto Rico

Among the measures included in the three Special Orders calendars released today in the Senate there is a measure created by the Puerto Rico Department of Military Affairs, which would serve as an administrative body to supervise and coordinate the activities of the Guard Nacional de Puerto Rico (GNPR), the Office of the Adjutant General, the Bureau of Emergency Management and Disaster Administration (NMEAD) and the State Guard.

The NMEAD is currently under the umbrella of the Department of Security Public (DSP). With the Senate Bill 1492, the Directorate of Administrative Services of the Department of Military Affairs and Directorate of Youth Programs of the National Guard of Puerto Rico would also be part of the proposed agency.

In defending the measure, its author, Senator Penepé Héctor Martínez Maldonado, argued in the Reason Exhibition of the project, based in February, that the concept of unifying these two dependencies is not new since the old Civil Defense, now NMEAD, was part of the GNPR until 1976.

" In the past years, Puerto Rico has faced various atmospheric events that have exposed the need to reorganize and update the processes of the agencies in charge of responding to catastrophic events, disasters such as Hurricanes Irma and María, as well as the current telluric movements that have affected the Island, but even more so the municipalities of the southern area, highlighted the importance of integrating within a single structure Uniform command to the National Guard and Emergency Management. This will continue to provide an assertive response to any other emergency in the future, "reads the Reason.

According to Martínez Maldonado, the merger of the GNPR and NMEAD will allow" gear, logistics and the preparation of the GNPR, be an asset for the defense of the security of all Puerto Ricans in atmospheric and natural eventualities ".

The Senate Public Security Commission evaluated memorials sent by the Association of Mayors, the Department of Housing, the GNPR, the Office of Management and Budget (OPG) and the Office of Administration and Transformation of Human Resources of the Government of Puerto Rico.The DSP, the Department of Justice, the Federation of Mayors, the Financial Advisory and Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and the Public Service Appeal Commission did not deliver papers.

In the case of the OGP, its director Iris Santos recorded her opposition to the m edida by arguing that creating a new entity is contrary to public policy that sought to reduce the government apparatus and that the integration of the NMEAD and the GNPR "would upset the efforts, procedures and different processes that were carried out as part of that consolidation in the DSP ".

According to the OGP, the new Department of Military Affairs should not be created because it does not present a guarantee to achieve efficiency in the processes to respond to emergencies and disasters, nor does it ensure a rapid and integrated response to any emergency or atmospheric event.

The OGP also notes that no funds were identified in the next fiscal year's budget for the creation of the new department.

With the measure, which was not evaluated in public hearings, it increases from one to three the minimum number of years that a GNPR Adjutant General, who will also head the new Department of Military Affairs, will have to live continuously in the island to hold the position.

In the case of the position of NMEAD Commissioner, you will be required to have obtained, at a minimum, an academic master's degree from a university institution and you must have knowledge and skills in administration or have no less Four years of experience in security, emergency management and disaster management. The GNR Assistant General may also occupy the position of Commissioner if the Governor so determines.

" The supreme authority regarding the direction of the NMEAD will be exercised by the Governor of Puerto Rico, but the administration and Immediate supervision will be delegated to the GNPR Adjutant General "reads the measure.

The bill states that all personnel currently assigned to NMEAD will become part of the Department of Military Affairs and that the proposed new law will not It may be used as a basis for the dismissal of any employee with a regular position. Likewise, all movable and immovable property, documents, records, materials, equipment, and funds allocated to the DSP for the NMEAD will be transferred to the Department of Military Affairs.

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