Friday 12th April 2024.

April 11, 2024


The National Institute for the Training and Use of Human Resources (Ifarhu) continued to secretly grant financial aid, after having promised that it would implement changes in the program in 2022, when the first questions and revelations from relatives of deputies arose. , officials and politicians who appeared as beneficiaries of these disbursements.

On October 24, 2022, the National Council of Ifarhu, which is supposed to be the entity’s highest body, declared itself in permanent session, in response to the crisis unleashed at that time. The meeting was behind closed doors, with the participation of the director of Ifarhu at that time, Bernardo Nando Meneses . The next day, the council – chaired by the Minister of Education, Maruja Gorday de Villalobos – informed the country that it had agreed to implement a series of changes and that the aid would become “educational credits” (that is, loans), in those cases in which it is proven that they can be borne by the beneficiaries.

The formation of a subcommittee was also announced, with representatives of the National General Comptroller’s Office and the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (Antai) .

All that came to nothing. Ifarhu even continued to grant financial aid, without making the information transparent, as requested by Antai.

In the interactive database prepared by La Prensa it appears that from October 25, 2022 (when the session of the National Ifarhu Commission ended) until May 23, 2023, Ifarhu requested and obtained the endorsement of 766 aid.

These 766 non-reimbursable aid represented a public expense of $16.2 million.

The opacity remained, despite the fact that Antai instructed Ifarhu to disclose who the beneficiaries were and the amounts disbursed, remembering that all information on the use and management of State funds “is public.”

4,903 non-refundable aid are listed in the database between July 7, 2019 and May 24, 2023. Only the identity of 2,144 beneficiaries is known. It is not known which pocket the remaining 2,759 aid went to, since in the box where the name and surname must appear there is the following phrase: “information of the final beneficiary hidden by the Comptroller’s Office.”

Coincidentally, the 766 aid authorized since that meeting of the National Council, in October 2022, have that legend.

Meneses remained in the leadership of Ifarhu until February 28, 2023, when he resigned to campaign as a candidate for PRD deputy in La Chorrera.

Until now, neither Ifarhu nor Meduca nor the Comptroller’s Office nor Antai have commented on the matter.

The presidential candidate José Gabriel Gaby Carrizo assured this Thursday, April 11, that he will maintain the controversial economic aid granted by the Institute for the Training and Use of Human Resources (Ifarhu).

“In my government there will be more scholarships,” said Carrizo, after participating in a forum organized by the Catholic church at the Santa María la Antigua University (Usma).

The candidate of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and also current vice president of the Republic justified the delivery of $141 million in aid, including to political associates and relatives of businessmen in the Laurentino Corizo ​​administration.

“Let’s not demonize the minor who was not at fault for receiving help,” he added.

He indicated that these aid were also delivered to people with limited resources as well as due to meritocracy.

In the regulations for scholarships, educational financial assistance and financial aid of Ifarhu, which consists of 71 articles, the requirements, rights and obligations of the students who are eligible for the scholarship and assistance programs are listed. Both highlight that preference will be given to those students who are “economically most in need”, from vulnerable areas or in situations of social risk.

However, many economic aid was assigned to officials and relatives of ministers, deputies, diplomats, state suppliers, members of the PRD and even President Laurentino Cortizo. Also from people without apparent economic needs.

During the period of incidents this Thursday, April 11 in the National Assembly, the PRD deputy Crispiano Adames recognized that there has been an “obvious abuse” regarding the delivery of economic aid by the Institute for Training and Use of Human Resources (Ifarhu).

However, this “abuse” does not correspond to the current government management, according to the official deputy. “We would have to go to an audit of the last 15 years to be able to detect that it has been a recurring phenomenon,” he stated.

His statements come after La Prensa published an interactive database that shows the juicy economic aid that Ifarhu distributed in just under four years, which has generated hundreds and hundreds of reactions through social networks.

The official deputy added that although it is true that this government has provided aid – as has been made public – it has also given this support to people from popular sectors and “I am a witness.”

In the session, Adames also said that in the previous legislature the issue of the delivery of aid by Ifarhu was addressed and a bill was prepared that is currently on the legislative agenda. In his opinion, there is still time to discuss this initiative.

The independent deputy Gabriel Silva requested this Thursday, April 11, that an investigation be opened and a “serious and in-depth” audit be carried out on the financial aid from the  Institute for the Training and Use of Human Resources (Ifarhu) that has been delivered during the current administration.

“Without a doubt it is shameful,” Silva said during the advocacy period of the plenary session of the National Assembly.

He assured that what they have done is “hand out scholarships to people who do not deserve it,” for the sole reason of knowing a representative or having political and economic connections.

“What they are doing is stealing the present and future of the Panamanian,” he said.

He recalled that the independent bench presented two bills on the subject. The first seeks to make the delivery of scholarships in Ifarhu transparent, which would allow us to know who earns the aid; The second project seeks to establish a strict, specific and transparent process for people to win scholarships. “It is to eliminate morbidity, corruption and clientelism in the delivery of scholarships,” he said.

But these two initiatives have remained in the archives of the National Assembly. According to Silva, there is no will to discuss them, because some politicians have been mentioned in the scandal.

A man was apprehended by the authorities this Thursday, April 11, after considering him allegedly involved in the murder of Jorge Luis Franco, candidate for vice mayor for the Realizing Goals (RM) party in La Chorrera (West Panama).

The prosecutor for Homicide and Feminicide of Panama Oeste, Raúl Rodríguez, explained that the suspect’s capture was during a raid in the province. The Judicial Investigation Directorate and the National Police participated in the operation.

Franco died on the night of Tuesday, November 14, after being shot while he was in the doorway of his house, in the town of Playa Leona. The candidate was hit in the hip area when a hooded subject got out of a car and shot him.

The injured man arrived on his own at the Nicolás Solano Hospital, where he later died. Franco was a running mate of Abdiel Medina, candidate for mayor of La Chorrera for RM.

The Supreme Court of Justice did not admit a complaint against Representative Yanibel Ábrego for the alleged commission of the crime of money laundering related to the purchase of land in the Condado del Rey area.

With the presentation of Judge Cristina Chen Stanziola and on April 8, the full Court decided not to admit the complaint presented by lawyer Neftalí Jaén considering that the appropriate evidence required to establish the commission of the reported crime.

The ruling was notified to the parties through edict 402, which establishes that the full Court did not admit the complaint in accordance with the provisions of article 488 of the Criminal Procedure Code , which establishes that the complaint against a deputy must be promoted in writing through a lawyer and with the provision of suitable evidence, and that if the complaint or complaint does not meet this requirement, it will be rejected outright.

The complaint filed by Jaén against Deputy Ábrego was based on a publication made by the newspaper La Prensa on April 11, 2023, which reported the purchase of a series of properties by the deputy, including an apartment in the Condado del Rey area.

This is an apartment acquired for the sum of $240 thousand in 2014 in Condado Country Club in Condado del Rey, for which a payment of $48 thousand was made, and the remaining $192 thousand through a mortgage.

Ábrego is also credited with purchasing a large amount of land in the area of ​​Cirí Grande and Cermeño, Capira.

At the time, Jaén asked the Court to investigate the funds with which Deputy Ábrego acquired those properties due to the high cost of the land and apartments acquired.

Jaén provided as evidence the publications made by the newspaper La Prensa about the various lands purchased by Ábrego, both in Capira and in Panama City.

On the morning of Thursday, April 11, the fall of a scaffolding was reported in the Ph Paramount building, located in Costa del Este, where two people were working in the area.

The fact was made known through publications on social networks.

Captain Ricardo Pérez, of the Panama Fire Department (CBP) , mentioned that, upon arriving at the scene, police personnel were already there.

This incident involved two workers from a company who were carrying out maintenance work on the outside of the building. It was indicated that the gundola mechanism had problems, which caused them to be stranded.

The police and firefighters proceeded to rescue them. There were personnel from the Alfa Firefighters ambulance at the scene.

Both workers were treated, one by fire personnel and the other by the 911 service. They were not injured or injured, they only had high blood pressure due to fright. An inspector was asked to carry out appropriate investigations into the incident.


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