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“Maelstrom of scandal and corruption”  - business leader

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Posted 13/10/2021

For more than a decade, Panama has experienced a maelstrom of scandals related to corruption and lack of transparency, which has worsened during the pandemic said, Ramon Icaza president of  Panama’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday, October 12. “We are really concerned about the direction the country is taking and we citizens have to wake up,” he told the General Assembly of the Chamber on Tuesday, October 12.

The businessman then argued that for the functioning of democracy there must be a real rule of law and a citizenry that in all its roles respects the laws and is committed to values such as honesty.

Icaza addressed key issues for the national future, such as electoral reforms, the reactivation of the economy and the need for credit for companies, the sectors to bet on to generate employment, as well as the management of public finances and the evolution of the dialogue to define the future of pensions, the latter subject that he described as "urgent and fundamental."

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/maelstrom-of-scandal-and-corruption-business-leader

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OPINION: Politics highjacked by thugs and crooks

Posted 03/11/2021

Starting today, Panamanians celebrate the national holidays. Our separation from Colombia marked a milestone, since then we have taken the reins of our destiny as a State and a nation. After more than 100 years of republican life, we must ask ourselves where we are going, what kind of democracy we want, and what we are as a society and as citizens. We should have learned from our failures, but we seem doomed to walk in circles, making the same mistakes. Corruption is suffocating and has permeated even our homes, something that will eventually lead many to commit acts of corruption, making our society vulnerable and tolerant to this rot. Our future is now uncertain, as politics is hijacked by thugs and crooks who disfigure our identity as citizens and country. The growing dependence of Panamanians on clientelism, created and cultivated by white-collar criminals entrenched in the Government, puts the future at serious risk, as the country is filled with drones instead of productive people. Let us reflect on how to separate ourselves from corrupt Panama to flourish as the honest and upright Panama – LA PRENSA, Nov. 3.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-politics-highjacked-by-thugs-and-crooks

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Time to abolish taxpayer-funded discretionary handouts

Posted 04/11/2021

The discretionary item for the exclusive use of the President of the Republic is an expense that must be eliminated or, at least, regulated, because as it is it can be used for anything without having to give explanations, as is visible in the last report of expenses. In 26 months of management (until last September), the incumbent ruler had spent $15.3 million, the specific use of which, in many cases, only appears as an ambiguous expense. To make matters worse, President Laurentino Cortizo has not given an answer to the final destination of these expenses, despite the fact that this media has been insisting for two weeks. The so-called discretionary game is the purest expression of the worst concept of presidentialism. Its use has been harshly questioned, as it has been used to buy politicians; for open political patronage; to pay or do favors and there has even been evidence that it has been used for sumptuary expenses or, with the excuse of helping third parties, its funds have been illegally taken from the State; or for the personal expenses of the Presidents. Therefore, it is necessary to abolish this item or put limits on its use and be really transparent in informing how it is spent. – LA  PRENSA, Nov. 4.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/time-to-abolish-taxpayer-funded-discretionary-handouts

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OPINION: Bringing dreams of officialdom to reality

Posted 08/11/2021

To try to understand this government it is necessary to think backwards. It means that you have to shed your common sense and logic. For two years, the country has faced a health crisis, from which an economic problem has arisen that has led us to get into debt up to our noses. The economy is far from being the buoyant of yesteryear and unemployment has prostrated our workforce in the private sector. But the government has not moved a muscle to contain spending. Their budgets, payroll and expenses skyrocket, and now the latest cry is to increase the amount of per diem. It seems that the people of the government lived in Timbuktu, while the rest of the country is anchored to the ground, without the possibility of dreaming what the State does make a reality with our taxes: the dreams of many officials.- LA PRENSA, Nov. 8.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-bringing-dreams-of-officialdom-to-reality

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Aquittal 'inconceivable level of impunity' - Transparency International

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Posted 11/11/2021

The  Panamanian chapter of Transparency International deplored the decision announced this week absolving former president  Ricardo Martinelli of the commission of the crimes of interception of telecommunications, monitoring, persecution, and surveillance without judicial authorization.

On the night of November 9, the Oral Trial Court of the First Judicial Circuit of Panama - made up of judges Iveth Francois VegaJennifer Cristine Saavedra Naranjo, and Marysol Osorio Leyton - announced the meaning of the ruling, which was adopted unanimously.

"The justifications given by the judges show a limited and inconvenient understanding of the responsibilities of the officials and the evaluation of the evidence," the organization said in a statement.

The Foundation for the Development of Citizen Freedom recalled that former President Martinelli (2009-2014) signed multiple out-of-court agreements with victims and "today two lower-ranking officials are serving sentences for the same crime." They are Alejandro Garuz and Gustavo Pérez, who were directors of the National Security Council (CSN) in the Martinelli government. Each was sentenced to 60 months in prison.

"This case is added to the long list of cases of corruption and human rights violations that find shelter in impunity," stated the organization.

The foundation also pointed out that the decision to acquit Martinelli affects the country on multiple levels, both internally in the very fiber of democracy and internationally, compared to indices that have been measuring the ability to the institutions of justice.

“Today the culture of impunity reaches inconceivable levels. It is a culture that permeates the Judicial Branch from the very plenary session of the Supreme Court, it goes beyond the laws, which in themselves are not insufficient. A culture that has had accomplices in the Executive and the justice administration entities, the Judicial Branch and the Public Ministry in successive administrations, and which the Legislative also takes advantage of ”, it explained.

The Court considered that no evidence was presented to prove that Martinelli ordered the espionage carried out, between 2012 and 2014, from the CSN building 150 in Ancón. The investigation did prove that the interceptions and monitoring of at least 150 businessmen, journalists, union leaders, diplomats, magistrates and politicians opposed to Martinelli were never authorized by the Supreme Court of Justice.

The full reading of the verdict will be on November 24.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/aquittal-039inconceivable-level-of-impunity039-transparency-international-1

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OPINION: Collective political suicide

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Posted 20/11/2021

Finally, a study has been carried out on the political culture of Panamanians. The results corroborate much of what we already know or intuit since it is enough to look at the preferences of the electorate when electing their government representatives. The government reflects, precisely, the great electoral universe and what we see is not very different from what the results of this study show, that is to say, that among Panamanian voters, clientelism, the “what's for me” and the lack of values, principles and an ideology is what reigns. Electoral politics for Panamanians is nothing more than a transaction —which can be called commercial—, in which the raw material that is for sale is the vote, in exchange for food, construction materials, or an appointment, while the "donors" are "investors" who hope that the candidates they supported will return the favor by awarding contracts or concessions; the appointment to high positions, inside or outside the country, or the issuance of laws from which they can take financial advantage to the detriment of the majorities. What to do in the face of collective political suicide? It is a question that all voters must ask ourselves from now on.  - LA PRENSA, Nov. 20.  

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/opinion-collective-political-suicide

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A wealthy country mired in moral and material poverty

Posted 22/11/2021

The only promises politicians keep are those they make to themselves when they decide to run. His dreams of well-being for him and his family, cars, farms, trips, bank accounts, luxury, banquets, parties, and cocktails, are the promises that are fulfilled with military pressure. Those that they make to their electors - with their false solemnity: more education, more health, more progress - these are only tales of the road or, to be precise, campaign fallacies because an educated people would never vote for the disgraceful electoral offer of the existing parties; because a people with well-being and progress would not accept the crumbs of the end of the year from politicians or be a satrap so that they can steal the way they do. An educated people would be sufficiently informed to distinguish between a charlatan and a true public servant, because if almost all governments have something to spare, it is charlatanism, and this one has gone out of hand. Panama is a country with wealth, but mired in poverty - moral and material - because it is run by a gang whose sole and exclusive priority is to fulfill their selfish dream of being rich - even stealing - and unattainable by law. LA PRENSA, Nov. 22 .

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/a-wealthy-country-mired-in-moral-and-material-poverty

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OPINION: Muddying public service

Posted 28/11/2021

It is clear that in this government there is blatant opportunism sponsored by the President of the Republic himself, by allowing an organism under his command - the Directorate of Social Assistance, the former PAN - to continue being the bank that finances political patronage, as has been demonstrated with the money used to buy electronic items that the deputy Alejandro Castillero distributed in a political event in his circuit, in the province of Herrera.

 The president's pernicious tolerance and consent to this blatant act of vulgar patronage contrasts with his heated speeches against the misuse of money. If you want us to believe your words, hypocrisy is not an ingredient that builds credibility. Every time there are political events that Panamanians pay for the benefit of these affronts the president's promises are completely emptied, precipitously depleting his political capital and that of his government.

Society is fed up with the cynicism sponsored by the president and his vice president, also a minister of the Presidency. That is, between the two of them they muddy public service, consenting to acts that conflict with the decency that should distinguish every official. – LA PRENSA, Nov. 28.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-muddying-public-service

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The Sound of One Hand Clapping

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Posted 09/12/2021

Today is the International Day Against Corruption. The celebration goes completely unnoticed, although corruption celebrates like never before, because although today the day is commemorated against it - surely in other countries, because obviously not here - the truth is that today, like the remaining 364 days, someone will rob the state and nothing will happen. Corruption is not something that happens so secretly and in a country whose inhabitants are very few, everything is known. The media know it, the people, the banks, businessmen and officials know it. You cannot illegally withdraw money from the State without the complicity of others. But what to do? The problem is that the institutions of control are as rotten as the people who run them, So who do you turn to? To the Attorney General's Office? To the Comptroller's Office? To the Judicial Branch? To the president? The deputy? To the police? In effect, nothing has worked, because in most cases they cannot provide a solution as it has been proven that they are also part of the problem. Today there will be no parades or murals in schools, no rehearsals, no speech, not a single gesture of celebration. Today, someone from the Government will steal from us and that one, that one, will celebrate. – LA PRENSA, Dec. 8

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/the-sound-of-one-hand-clapping-1

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Corruption stealing everyone’s future - business chamber

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Posted 12/12/2021

THE CORRUPT are stealing everyone’s present and future says Panama’s Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (Cciap)  marking the International Day against Corruption (December 9) and Human Rights Day (December 10).

“All human beings have basic rights that corruption constantly takes away from them. This is a humiliation that curtails the rights of those of us who are part of society - governments, multilateral entities, the private sector, the media, and citizens in general - we all also have the duty to condemn it no matter where or who it comes from ” said the Chamber in its weekly newsletter.

The organization affirms that changing the course against corruption begins by working in “robust” institutions that penalize and have a real reach over the corrupt, and demand accountability, integrity, and transparency from both officials and the system in general.

In the criminal sphere, where there is a corrupt person, there is a corrupter, so both must be condemned and socially isolated. Corruption actions must be pointed out, denounced, punished and alienated ”,  says the group.

For the Cciap, fighting corruption is a duty and a right that must be promoted in all areas of society.

"The time to act is now, otherwise it will be increasingly difficult to face the challenges of sustainable development, which for now is just a chimera or, worse, it said.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/corruption-stealing-everyones-future-business-chamber-1

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Replacing the “What’s in it for me?” values

Posted 18/12/2021

The Ministry of Security will present before the Assembly, authorized by the Cabinet, a bill that will stamp the criminological policy of the country. It's late, but it's coming. Its content is unknown, but it mentions that it will be considered that Panamanian society suffers an effect of disintegration and family decomposition that adds to the crisis of values that reigns in the country. This vision coincides with that of the president, who maintains that the causes of crime lie precisely in the family, the nucleus of the country's problems. And indeed, the home must change, but change needs examples to follow.

The Panamanian family was not like it is now. But it changed; There have been years and years of bad examples, those given by politicians and governments: corruption, robberies, lies, patronage, "what's there for me", impunity. LA PRENSA, Dec.18.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/replacing-the-whats-in-it-for-me-values

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Panama’s shameless mayors

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"Cortizo sleeps peacefully"

Posted 13/01/2022

Faced with the dispossession suffered by the treasury, perpetrated by shameless mayors from all over the country, nobody, absolutely nobody, does anything. The president no longer sits on his stool, because, from what we see, he seems to have exchanged it for a hammock where he sleeps peacefully while they rob us; the comptroller corrects the mistakes they may have made in the papers so that these shameless can steal from us expeditiously; and the deputies do nothing because they look towards those positions thinking in 2024, since, now having so much money in the municipalities, they will run for both positions to continue with the robbery. How can it be possible for these officials to earn such high incomes when the country is going through an unprecedented economic crisis; when we are in debt to the crown to cover the shortfall in the state budget; when there are so many needs of your represented? You can call it what you want: allowances, travel expenses, but it is nothing more than looting; and this fraud may have been legalized by others just like them, but it is still what it is: an act of pillage, pure and simple. And yet they still wonder why they define this government as corrupt. – LA PRENSA, Jan. 13.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/panamas-shameless-mayors

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Political gangsters and kleptomaniacs running wild

Posted 14/01/2022

Political delinquency has transferred the theater of its gangster operations to the lowest level of popular election positions: the corregimiento representatives, who, given the increase in income of the mayors, compete with them, to see who gets more. Thus, we have representatives who reward themselves with income –of up to almost $14,000 per month–, well above their hierarchy, knowledge, and management. Consequently, it is undeserved money, vulgar looting. The parties that concentrate these kleptomaniacs are the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and Democratic Change (CD), whose leaders –Benicio Robinson, Pedro Miguel González and Rómulo Roux– seem comfortable with white-collar crime housed in their groups, from where conspire against the interests of their communities. They remain complicit in silence in the face of these excesses, which would also explain why continue to atomize the country with more districts and corregimientos: expand the offer of public positions for more political gang members. When will the comptroller start working? When will you tell us how those people spend their money? Or is it that you also get your income the same way they do? – LA PRENSA - Jan. 24

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/political-gangsters-and-kleptomaniacs-running-wild

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Elected representatives board the $4 million gravy train

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Local reps meet once a week.

Posted 18/01/2022

The allowances that taxpayers pay to the 26 corregimiento representatives of the Municipality of Panama imply an annual charge of $811,200, or $4,56,000 per five-year period says a La Prensa report.

This is because every time the mayors of the capital district attend a session of the Council of Panama they charge $600 and this body meets once a week (52 times a year).

The figure is based on Agreement 24 of January 30, 2007, which doubled from $300 to $600 the number of allowances in municipalities whose annual income is greater than $60 million.

But, the 26 representatives of the capital commune receive another additional per diem: $250 for attending the meetings of the Provincial Council, a body that, according to article 256 of the Constitution, must meet once a month. This privilege implies a charge to the Municipality of $78,000 per year, or $390, over  five years.

The salary of the 26 corregimiento representatives of the capital district is $2,000, but each one receives another $5,000 in travel expenses. There are also other prerogatives for the presidents of the Municipal Council and the Provincial Council: they are paid representation expenses of $2,500 and $1,000, respectively.

The accumulation of privileges that local authorities have in Panama is felt more strongly in the capital district, a commune where each of the 26 corregimiento representatives earns at least $9,650 a month.

This is the product of salary payments ($2,000), transportation expenses ($5,000), municipal council allowances ($2,400 for four sessions per month), and $250 in provincial council allowances.

Additionally, three of them receive representation expenses: the president of the Council, who receives $2,500; the vice president of that corporation, who is assigned $1,500; and the president of the Provincial Council, who receives another $1,000. Currently the president of the Municipal Council of Panama is the PRD member Abdiel Sandoya, representative of the district of Betania.

These privileges imply a charge to the treasury of $3,70,800 per year.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/elected-representatives-board-the-4-million-gravy-train

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Local “rogues” receive double the pay of the president

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La Prensa political cartoonist Lowi's take on the rogues.

Posted 17/01/2022

The voracity of mayors and representatives continues to surprise. In addition to the size of his income – undeserved in relation to his responsibilities – the payment of paid leave for five years is added. That is to say, that he is paid more than a magistrate of the Court for a job that, if anything, reaches mediocre, and also for another in which they do nothing. It is the institutionalization of shamelessness.

Knowing his current income: salary, allowances, representation and mobilization expenses, and now paid leave, a mayor or representative can earn more than $15,000 a month, more than double what the President of the Republic earns. Responding to these abuses must be difficult for the comptroller, since his deputy friends, after two weeks since they promised to summon him to the plenary session, still have not done so. Then, we will still not know how it is that after two years in office, the comptroller is the special guest at the waste party. At that same party and in the same condition is his accomplice: the President of the Republic, who remains silent – arms crossed – after having authorized Decentralization funds to face the pandemic, and not so that these rogues become millionaires from the government. – LA PRENSA, Jan.17.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/local-rogues-receive-double-the-pay-of-the-president

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Brazen and institutionalized theft

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The headline in the La Prensa cartoon reads:"Mayors paid more than president

Posted 18/01/2022

If mayors and corregimiento representatives worked in a private company, their income would be equivalent, in many cases, to that of the general manager, but, not content with that, they also have to be paid a per diem for the meetings they attend, despite the fact that their duties include their presence in these.

We are in the presence of brazen and institutionalized theft. It is very attractive to apply for these positions, because, once in them, everyone gets whatever income they want and no one demands a penny from them, despite the fact that no one needs $3,000 or $5,000 to spend on getting around, unless they do  it in a helicopter.

In reality, they steal every dollar, because they don't even do their job properly. And they hide nothing because there is no reason to do so. The robbery is done with the complicit smile of the comptroller, who no longer controls, only corrects. All these politicians have lost their shame and lack the morals to talk to us about anything. They are nothing more than a vulgar white-collar gang, which we have put into these positions with our votes, many exchanged for a turkey, a bagel or five bags of cement. So we share, like trinkets, sold by the dozen and at a discount. – LA PRENSA, Jan. 18.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/brazen-and-institutionalized-theft

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Comptroller Solis faces a criminal complaint

Posted 21/01/2022

The waste of public money has generated another complaint, against the comptroller Gerardo  Solis reports TVN.

The criminal complaint against the comptroller was filed by the lawyer Abdiel González Tejeira, from the Project 2000 Movement of Arraiján, in reaction to the $5,000 emolument of the Mayor of Arraiján in mobilization expenses.

“He has omitted to inspect or should have requested an expense invoice for the $5,000

a month because these are public funds, it is for this scenario that we are filing the criminal complaint against the Comptroller for the omission of his duties as an official,” González said.

The lawyer also stated that an ex officio investigation should have been initiated in the face of the

serious statements made by the Mayor of Colón, where he implies that “he who does not walk does not get elected”

According to González, in the last two years, the Municipality of Arraiján has spent close to a million dollars in mobilization expenses.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/comptroller-solis-faces-a-criminal-complaint

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OPINION: The arrogance of the comptroller

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The comptroller reported to the National Assembly.

Posted 21/01/2022

Once again, the comptroller general of the Republic acts out of arrogance and lack of common sense, by dodging a questionnaire from the Administration's attorney about the rules invoked by mayors and corregimiento representatives to significantly increase their income. The attitude of the comptroller hinders an investigation on the subject. What you should do is answer what they have asked you, because in order to pay this group of drones, the Comptroller's Office has had to verify that the disbursements are in accordance with current regulations, so it makes no sense to tell the attorney that “It is curious that you initiate a preliminary investigation requesting me to provide you with information regarding the rules of the legal system, when it is you yourself who has the obligation to keep those rules systematized”. The questionnaire seeks to corroborate what were the rules with which the Comptroller justified the payment of said emoluments, ridiculously high compared to the responsibilities of officials who are far from being the highest authorities in the country. Either he responds or he exposes himself to suspicion. – LA PRENSA, Jan. 21.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-the-arrogance-of-the-comptroller

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Filling the bottomless pockets of politicians

Posted 23/01/2022

Initiatives from civil society and independent deputies, to eliminate the paid licenses of mayors and corregimiento representatives after being elected, have been presented to the National Assembly, but none have been endorsed by the legislative commission on Municipal Affairs, which is presided over by the PRD Javier Sucre. And it is unlikely that this will happen, considering that Sucre is one of those local authorities elected in 2019 –although he preferred to be a deputy– who, in addition, has proposed modifying the Decentralization Law to increase the income of the municipalities through the transfer of 6% of the State's current income, which means disbursements for local governments of hundreds of millions of dollars, in addition to what they already receive from the Decentralization Law. What is sought is to continue increasing the subsidy to the municipalities, while the deputies dedicate themselves to creating more districts and townships. The voracity of these politicians does not seem to have limits and they continue making laws to legalize the dispossession of the State and thus continue filling their bottomless pockets. – LA PRENSA, Jan. 23.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/filling-the-bottomless-pockets-of-politicians

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The debt legacy of President Laurentio Cortizo

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Posted 27/01/2022

The government of President Laurentino Cortizo has broken and will break all debt records. Since he took office –in July 2019– to date, the debt has increased by $13,875 million, to exceed, for the first time, $40 billion. That is a record that no one can dispute because his rate of indebtedness is another record: an average of $447.6 million per month. Consider that before Cortizo, the one who made the debt grow the most was President Juan Carlos Varela. In his 60 months, the debt increased $8,973 million, to an average of $149.5 million per month, that is, 200% less than the rate of Cortizo, who, halfway through his term, has accumulated almost 80% of all the debt acquired during the efforts of Martín Torrijos, Ricardo Martinelli, and Varela. The sum of these three periods reaches $17,429 million, but at the rate, it is going, before the end of the year, Cortizo would exceed that amount, with which it will break the waste record in the country's history... and all in the worst crisis economy in recent decades. If he doesn't loosen his foot, by the time he's 60 months old, the debt will have risen to more than $25 billion. And that will be another record... and his great legacy. – LA PRENSA, Jan. 27.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/the-debt-legacy-of-president-laurentio-cortizo-1

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Complaint against Comptroller calls for his suspension

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Posted 29/01/2022

The Attorney General's Office, headed by Javier Caraballo, has processed a complaint against the Comptroller General Gerardo Solís which calls for his suspension.

The complaint was filed on January 21 by the lawyer Abdiel González in the midst of the scandal over the waste of public funds through the figure of mobilization expenses managed by mayors and community boards in the country.

The legal action claims that the comptroller omitted his control functions and delayed "illegally, acts of his office."

The complainant points out that Solís allegedly incurred in the alleged commission of crimes against the public administration, in the form of abuse of authority and violation of public duties.

It highlights that among the functions of a comptroller is that of "supervising and regulating, through prior or subsequent control, all acts of managing funds and other public goods", so that they are done correctly.

On January 25, four days after the complaint against him, Solís, who has been in office for two years, announced that since January 20, the day he met with councilors and mayors to address the issue of spending of mobilization, had ordered to suspend the payment of these expenses and said that he would review the emoluments of the local authorities.

The complainant, says that in reality it is not known what the role of the Comptroller had been in the control of these funds from 2020 to date. He adds that what proceeds now is for Caraballo to ask the Supreme Court to suspend Solis from his post.

In addition, he says that the Administration attorney, Rigoberto González, who has also denounced Solís, must request a conduct report from the comptroller. Attorney González, in fact, was already carrying out an investigation and has not been able to get the comptroller to answer his questions reports La Prensa.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/complaint-against-comptroller-calls-for-his-suspension

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Scores protected from criminal trial by an outdated law

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Posted 01/02/2022

Scores of members of political parties have criminal electoral jurisdiction as a result of different internal processes and the number will increase as the electoral calendar of the groups' advances reports La Prensa.

In the Realizing Goals (RM) party, headed by former president Ricardo Martinelli, at least 20 directors have been granted immunity since January 28. If any authority needs to prosecute them, they must request the Electoral Court (TE) to remove that armor, one of the main obstacles to the progress of criminal processes.

The most recent example is that of the New Business case, whose preliminary hearing was postponed to May as a result of the jurisdiction that Martinelli acquired due to his status as president of RM.

With the changes made to the Electoral Code in 2021, the process to withdraw the electoral jurisdiction it must first be reviewed by an Electoral Administrative Court and, if there is an appeal, it passes to the plenary of the TE.

Once again,  says La Prensa, the debate returns with force: the criminal electoral jurisdiction as an obstacle in the course of the investigations and, if any authority needs to investigate a registered politician, it must request the Electoral Court (TE) to withdraw this privilege.

However, with the changes to the Electoral Code that took place last year, this process is now more complex: the competent authorities to lift the jurisdiction are the Electoral Administrative Courts, while the full Electoral Court will act when it comes to an appeal.

The issue became evident after the Third Criminal Court Liquidator was forced to postpone the preliminary hearing of the New Business case until next May, after the lawyers of former President Ricardo Martinelli -one of those investigated in this process- invoked electoral criminal jurisdiction as of January 28, because Martinelli is the president of RM.

In RM, at least 20 people already have electoral criminal jurisdiction, including Luis Eduardo Camacho, Alma Cortés and Alejandro Pérez.

Article 260 of the Electoral Code says that the jurisdiction enters into force from the beginning of the campaign period until the last proclamation of the event is executed.

Protecting criminals
Four deputies from the independent bench of the National Assembly presented a legislative proposal that seeks to eliminate electoral criminal jurisdiction  “A tool that protects criminals, weakens democracy and has no sense of being”, published the deputy Gabriel Silva on his social networks.

The PRD already has the process underway to choose the 4,200 delegates who will choose the new board in May.

The CD party chaired by Rómulo Roux, a list of candidates for internal elections that are held to fill vacant positions in some district and corregimiento boards of directors was also published. The CD board has nine members, including deputy Yanibel Ábrego.

The Panameñista Party, chaired by José Isabel Blandón, is also preparing for its own electoral process. It plans to elect party directors, executive secretarial positions, national delegates, and others next March.

The rule
According to article 261 of the Electoral Code, the electoral jurisdiction is lost if the Electoral Tribunal lifts it. In addition, the taxpayer may renounce it before the TE or before the competent authority expressly or tacitly.

Requests for removal of jurisdiction must be approved by in the first instance, by the Electoral Administrative Courts and, on appeal, by the plenary session of the TE.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/scores-protected-from-criminal-trial-by-an-outdated-law

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Impunity cloaked in an electoral anachronism

Posted 01/02/2022

The processes to lift the criminal electoral jurisdiction are now more cumbersome and take longer, since it is necessary to go to second instances to annul the privilege. In practice, it means delaying, something that the deputies achieved in the recent amendments to the Electoral Code. Although it is true that jurisdiction is generally lifted at the request of the authorities, by now taking more time, the prescription of crimes is facilitated and with it comes impunity.

And that is what the deputies wanted from the beginning since they —as we already know— do not legislate in the best interest of the citizens. No, they legislate for themselves, to obtain benefits and privileges, to stay out of the reach of the law, because many of them are in the wrong: they steal money from the state or appropriate state assets.

That is why they cling to that electoral anachronism, as their lifeline. Hundreds of politicians have been protected from appearing in court or being investigated, thanks to the electoral processes established within their parties, which can last for months. Electoral jurisdiction is nothing more than another rogue of the criminals we have as deputies. – LA PRENSA,  Feb 1.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/impunity-cloaked-in-an-electoral-anachronism

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Criminality in the National Assembly goes unpunished

Posted 31/01/2022

Once again, crimes that affected the reputation of people who were affected by the criminality that still reigns in the National Assembly remain unpunished. The Supreme Court of Justice refused to admit a complaint made by a citizen that, without her consent, her name appeared on the ghost forms of the Legislative Branch, but the salaries were collected by third parties without providing any service. If the aforementioned deputy did not hold a political position, surely the facts would have been, at least, investigated to find the culprits, but we verify – as always – that impunity prevails when it comes to the political caste. Others are added to these cases, as there are several complaints – filed by the former comptroller – that await investigations, both by the Court and by ordinary justice, given that several deputies lost their positions in the last elections. It deals with scandalous facts, like embezzlement, but nothing works, everything remains in limbo. How does the Court expect society to believe in the changes it promotes when its sentences say that nothing will change? If you want credibility, you can't destroy with your feet what you're trying to do with your hands. – LA PRENSA,  Jan. 31

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/criminality-in-the-national-assembly-goes-unpunished

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The scandalous waste of State funds

Posted 30/01/2022

The Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture is quite right to complain about the scandalous "waste of state funds", in the midst of the serious economic problems suffered by the entire country, including the Government, which must resort to large loans to solve a national budget which is anything but realistic.

The fiscal deficit, which could decrease notably with a true government austerity plan, continues to cause concern since it is calculated on the basis of unrealistic revenues, which in the end are covered by increasing our already large public debt. Without a doubt, the government of Laurentino Cortizo must be the worst administrator of public funds that Panama has had in recent decades.

 He has crossed his arms while the local government authorities rob us in the face and without any control because the Comptroller's Office has decided to emasculate itself, to become a friendly corrector, instead of looking after the best interests of the country.

The money is used for patronage and electoral purposes, while the payroll of government entities continues to grow as if the money were left over. The lack of criteria in the public administration is endangering the future stability of the country and the Government – including the President – will be solely responsible for what happens.- LA PRENSA,  Jan. 30.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/the-scandalous-waste-of-state-funds

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