National Security Minister Jack Warner yesterday admitted he hired a photographer to stand outside the constituency office of Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley last Saturday, to determine whether the office was open or closed in the aftermath of the flooding disaster in Diego Martin.
At the post-Cabinet news conference on Thursday, Warner had first raised the issue, saying it would have been nice if Rowley had used his office to distribute hampers to the flood victims of Diego Martin.
During her contribution to the Financial Intelligence Unit of Trinidad and Tobago and Anti Terrorism Bill 2012—in Parliament yesterday at the International Waterfront Centre in Port of Spain—Opposition chief whip Marlene McDonald said Warner should check his facts.
“I want to tell you that on Sunday morning, I met the member for Diego Martin West at his office, where I brought a lot of hampers. I was just one of the donors… for him to distribute to flood victims,” said McDonald. “I am aware that another member also donated a lot of hot meals, not only the Diego Martin West MP but also Diego Martin Central, so you have to be a little more careful in making these flippant statements,” she added.
“You may call them flippant, but I am talking facts!” responded Warner.
“I came Saturday and I spoke and met with the member for Diego Martin Central… and we of course put our heads together to try and help some people. I then left on his advice.
“I went to La Puerta, where he advised me to go up there because somebody was dead. He and I talked and worked whole of Saturday. Saturday night, madam.
“I have pictures of the whole of Saturday night. I put a cameraman opposite the building to take pictures for the whole night… is black, black, black. But I don’t have it (pictures) here now. I didn’t ask permission. Had I asked permission from the Speaker before I came here today, I will show you. I forgot to ask for permission.
“I have a picture big so (gesturing with his hands). It black as me because the place is closed,” said Warner.
He added that when Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was touring the flood-affected areas, Rowley’s constituency office was closed.
In a release yesterday, Rowley stated that he was in “complete and utter shock” upon hearing Warner make the statement to the effect that his (Rowley’s) office was permanently closed, and efforts to deliver relief hampers for distribution to constituents were futile.
“The MP’s office is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and later in some instances. Since the occurrence of the disaster, the office continues to open its doors from 9 a.m. We have extended the opening hours and will be open on the weekend to accommodate those persons affected,” stated the release.
The office, it added, acts as a relief centre, where constituents have come in for assistance; and as a drop-off point for those wishing to make contributions.
“As a matter of fact, we have been delivering food hampers, hot lunches, clothes, mattresses, sheets, blankets, cleaning and other supplies to those persons on a daily basis.
“Members of staff have been on the ground since Saturday and continue to work assiduously to assist constituents.
For Mr Warner to make these statements is nothing short of being malicious,” stated Rowley