Santana pulls the plug on government in Bonaire

POSTED: 09/6/11 2:11 PM

KRALENDIJK – The government of Bonaire no longer has a majority in the Island Council. Rafael Santana, who occupies one seat in the Council with the PHU said yesterday morning that the party no longer supports its own Commissioner Michiel Bijkerk.
The coalition consists of the PDB of Robbie Beukenboom (3 seats) and the PHU and the MBL (Benito Dirksz) with one seat each. Ramonsito Booi’s UPB ended up with four seats in the opposition.
Dirksz said that Santana has been talking already for some time with Booi who intends to form a new government. Dirksz ended his party’s cooperation with the PHU. After the March 2 elections these parties promised each other to form one front in the coalition talks. Dirksz says that Santana now wants to form a coalition with the UPB.
Santana announces his position in a letter to Governor Glen Thodé.
Bijkerk and Santana have a difference of opinion about the $1,500 Bijkerk has been paying to Santana for a couple of months, because he said Island Council members must be able to work full time. However, officially membership of the Island council is a part-time job. When it became clear that the payments were against the rules, Santana wanted to pay the money back, but Bijkerk did not want to hear about it.
Governor Thodé ordered Bijkerk last week that he has to stop paying Santana because it is illegal. In his letter, the governor stated, “You claim that you are paying this money to Santana because you feel that he must be able to do his work in a certain way. The oath states that you do not give or receive anything to do or not to do something in that function. You as the donor and Santana as the receiver are both violating your oath. The constitutional system does not combat the simple helping hand of a friend, but it does combat paying someone to do his work as an island council member fulltime by a commissioner. That way a relationship of dependence comes into being. You claim that you are acting in the general interest. The general interest is served when you convince the legislator that the function of island council member has to be a fulltime function, so that the public entity Bonaire pays the council member as such. The general interest is also served when the island commissioner and the member of the island council stick to the constitutional framework and to their oath.”
Thodé added: “When you accept the function of island commissioner, you also accept certain advantages and obligations. Together with your fellow island council members you get a lot of influence and many competences. On the other hand you must stick to the limitations as they are ordained by our basic rules. Creating a relationship of dependency between a commissioner and a member of the island council is at odds with the constitutional framework. How can island council member Santana take part in a vote about the affairs of commissioner Bijkerk without burden, or take part in a vote when it concerns a matter of confidence?”

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