Puerto Rico's top cop denies reports of sickout

San Juan, Apr 18 (EFE).- Puerto Rico's police chief on Thursday denied media reports that a substantial number of officers are taking part in a sickout strike.

"There are enough ... police on the streets," Hector Pesquera told WKAQ radio.

Pesquera's remarks came after the daily Primera Hora on Thursday denounced the massive absence of police officers in some areas of the island due to discontent within the department over the delay in pay for hours worked, the lack of pay for sick days and an overhaul of public employee pensions.

The newspaper said that the police post at the popular tourist destination of La Parguera has remained closed since Monday.

The police commander in the western city of Mayaguez, Col. Agustin Marrero, confirmed that in his area of responsibility a total of 94 officers did not report for work this week claiming to be sick.

The situation, according to Primera Hora, is even worse in the northern part of the island, where on Wednesday 560 of the 1,160 officers in the Arecibo district called in sick.

Discontent among the cops has increased after in recent weeks the legislature approved the overhaul of public-sector pensions.

The measure increases the employee contribution from 8.2 percent to 10 percent and mandates cuts for retired public servants receiving pensions of up to $1,500 a month.