AAV: Vote ‘no’ on bail, Capitol cutback
Those positions put him at odds with Popular Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate Alejandro García Padilla, who has said he will vote in favor of both amendments.
During the August 19 referendum, voters will be consulted on a proposed amendment to the island Constitution that would give local judges the discretion to refuse bail in certain murder cases. Puerto Rico currently is the only place in the Western hemisphere where all people, including those charged with rape and murder, are always entitled to bail in local courts. Federal judges in the U.S. territory already have the authority to refuse bail.
Voters will also cast ballots on an amendment to reduce the size of the Legislature from 78 to 56 seats. House seats would be cut from 51 to 39 (33 district seats and six at-large), and Senate seats would be pared from 27 to 17 (11 districts and six at-large), in 2017. It reduces the number of House district seats but increases the number of Senate district seats from eight to 11.
Acevedo Vilá opposes both measures. He argues that the bail limits won’t curb crime and that cutting the Legislature won’t answer voter calls for better government.
“Since this is a civic issue, not one of ideology, the leaders and members of my PDP are free to vote as they see fit,” Acevedo Vilá said. “This shows [García Padilla’s] confidence in himself and his democratic spirit.”
The former one-term PDP governor stressed that he stands strongly behind García Padilla’s candidacy.
García Padilla initially opposed the bail amendment pushed by his chief rival, New Progressive Party Gov. Luis Fortuño, but switched stances as crime rose to the forefront of key campaign issues heading into the November election.
“García Padilla was willing to back a proposal by his chief rival in the middle of a political campaign because he thinks it was what’s best for Puerto Rico,” Acevedo Vilá said. “Rarely in our history have we seen such an approach. This is the kind of leader Puerto Rico needs.”
García Padilla had rankled many commonwealth party members with his announcement in May that that he would vote in favor of the bail amendment.However, a growing number of PDP lawmakers and legislative hopefuls are getting in line behind his position.
Two powerful former PDP governors — Rafael Hernández Colón and Sila Calderón — have already voiced their support for the bail amendment.
Acevedo Vilá, a one-time PDP lawmaker and president who was elected resident commissioner in Congress in 2000 and Puerto Rico governor in 2004, has been increasingly vocal in recent months.
He lost his re-election bid in a landslide to Fortuño in 2008 in a campaign that was hobbled by the fact that he was facing trial on federal corruption charges at the time, the only sitting governor in modern Puerto Rican history to be indicted.
After a lengthy trial, a U.S. District Court jury found Acevedo Vilá not guilty on all charges in March 2009 even though 10 of his codefendants pleaded guilty in the case. The nine federal charges included conspiracy, money laundering, electronic fraud, supplying false information to the Federal Elections Commission and depriving the public of his honest services.