Monday 26th September 2022.

September 26, 2022



The country’s business sector reiterated once again that it is urgent to reach agreements and take action as soon as possible to save Panama’s public pension system, which is in a critical stage. “The report of the International Labor Organization on the Social Security Fund was made public with several critical conclusions, among them, the fact that high unemployment rates and the increase in informality have further worsened the situation of the retirement and pensions of the social security system. highlighted the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap) in its statement this Sunday, September 25.  They indicated that given this reality “the option of not doing anything and letting time pass would mean a profound act of irresponsibility on the part of the current administration.” According to the businessmen, they are aware that reaching agreements on the route to follow “is not easy” and that it will probably not be resolved before the end of Laurentino Cortizo ‘s term , in July 2024. “However, this cannot be an excuse to sit idly by because time is running out. If we don’t start to act, retirees will arrive at the ATM and find themselves surprised that they haven’t received their monthly payment,” they added. “Refusing to talk about parametric measures is postponing part of a conversation that sooner or later we will have to address the life expectancy of people worldwide, where Panama is listed as a country with significant growth in population aging,” said the Cciap . In its report, the ILO confirms in its conclusions the short time that Panama has to make decisions before the Social Security Disability, Old Age and Death (IVM) pension subsystem runs out of reserves in 2024. In a 182-page document, the agency specified that the progressive reduction of active contributors and, therefore, the fall in income from contributions, the exhaustion in 2024 of the total reserve of the IVM subsystem and the accelerated increase in the amount of new pensions, will create strong pressure to finance the growing spending of the program. This is how the projected annual operating deficit in nominal terms will grow and will reach a maximum annual limit in the year 2050, close to $7,500 million, the document indicates.

Making decisions to try to save the Disability, Old Age and Death (IVM) program of the Social Security Fund (CSS) will involve a thorny and complicated path in the coming months. This was demonstrated this Thursday last, in a vote in the CSS board of directors to take the first step to reactivate the dialogue. It had to be decided whether to give courtesy room to the organizations of the single dialogue table of Penonomé so that they could present their proposal to recompose the Dialogue for the SSC, frozen since December 2021 pending the report of the International Labor Organization ( ILO) and without one of the key members: the workers. In the end, it was decided by a majority of 9-2 to give the courtesy, but there is still no date for this meeting. The vote took place three days after the results of the ILO report were published on the CSS website, confirming the crisis of the current and future pensions of those who contribute to the CSS.

Many people do not know what the purpose of a preliminary hearing is. At this stage of the process, it is not a matter of establishing who is guilty and who is not, but rather whether the crime exists and whether there are sufficient reasons to prosecute one or more of the defendants. It seems that even some lawyers overlook this aspect and it is thus inexplicable that the defense of Ricardo Martinelli, in their arguments, refers to issues such as the principle of specialty, the presumed immunity of Parlacen or the fact that the former president does not have a visa entry to the United States. None of this will make Judge Baloisa Marquínez more or less inclined to prosecute him or not. Besides, who said that the United States will not allow him to enter that country? The most anticipated Panamanian in those parts is him. He must have been greatly missed in Brooklyn when his children were sentenced. So whether or not he has a visa is an allegation that he should have taken up with Clayton and not Cerro Ancón, even though they are not far from each other. And if we dedicate so much time here to what is done or said on behalf of this defendant (and not that of the other 49) it is because, as the prosecution rightly said, what happened with Odebrecht could only have been possible because this man He “allowed” it. Martinelli’s defense also dedicated a good part of their argument to insist on the application of the specialty principle, an issue that was already rejected by the judge on the first day of the preliminary hearing. Now, the lawyer says that he wrote to the Miami judge, Edwin Torres, to “certify” if that court held a “trial” to declare any exception to the principle of specialty. But it happens that Torres simply certified whether the requirements for extradition were met and whether there were indications of the commission of a crime included in the Panama-United States bilateral treaty. Who really decides whether the extradition is carried out or not is not a federal judge, but the US State Department. And the State Department has said ad nauseam that the aforementioned principle no longer applies to Martinelli. Another nonsense has been to send letters to the chancellor to ask if the 1904 treaty has been modified or repealed. That could only happen with the approval of another law, something that the whole country knows has not happened. They only needed to bring the trite argument of the accusation without imputation to complete the excuse manual. Another thing: launching denigrating or sarcastic expressions regarding the personal characteristics of the prosecutors, how is it going to help the accused? To sample, a button pushed of what the defense said: “The lawyer lied in two reports for which he earned the promotion… Coming to say the allegation he made, with that velvety voice…” “Licentiate, prosecutor Olmedo deserves respect,” the judge interrupted. I am not going to allow an argument that is not strictly legal. He has referenced a lot of things that have nothing to do with what you should really be alleging.” That is only surpassed by the argument of another lawyer, who announced that she was preparing to file a complaint with the judge. What message does all this convey to us? Why this inconsistency of the defense, at a time when they have to give reasons why his client should not be prosecuted, instead of complaining about the voice of the prosecutors? Probably the tricks are running out. From here on, practically the only argument in favor that will remain is the prescription.

A minor under 16 years of age will be provisionally detained for the alleged commission of the crimes of homicide and attempted homicide, events that occurred in an educational establishment in the province of Colón. The case is related to the shooting that occurred on the afternoon of last Thursday, September 22, at the Rufo A. Garay Institute, in the city of Colón. As a result of this event, a 15-year-old student died and two other minors (16 and 17 years of age) were injured. During a hearing held this Saturday, the prosecutor Yariela Serrano requested the legalization of an exceptional search, arrest and formulation of accusation against the minor, requests that were admitted by the adolescent criminal judge of Colón. At the hearing, the Colón and Guna Yala Adolescent Prosecutor’s Office was also granted a one-year investigation period. Regarding this event, the Ministry of Education made a call to put down all kinds of violence and promote peaceful coexistence in the country’s educational centers.

The Ministry of Public Security reported this Sunday that to date they have seized 91,650 drug packages, of these, 23 tons have been seized in ports in the Pacific and the Caribbean. “The fight over drugs by these criminal groups is incessant and these goods, which are intended to be sent through the ports, represent high profits,” the entity said. Juan Pino, security minister, explained that the drugs in the United States has a value of 25,000 to 60,000 dollars, while in Europe it is between 35,000 and 40,000 dollars, so “these criminal groups seek at all costs” to recruit to anyone to ship these illicit substances. “This year we have had convincing results by dismantling groups dedicated to the custody and shipment of illicit substances from workshops and logistics centers established in Western Panama and east of the capital,” Pino said. On September 19, the authorities dismantled an organization that operated from a workshop in the village of Chilibre, where they seized 1,203 drug packages and captured four people, including a Salvadoran, a Colombian, a Panamanian and a Nicaraguan. . “This drugs were located inside a yellow container, ready to be sent to one of the ports in our country. Thanks to the intelligence work of our National Police units, it was possible to anticipate the objective of this organization,” explained the minister.

A prevention alert for rains accompanied by strong gusts of wind that would occur between September 25 and 27 in various parts of the country was issued on the afternoon of this Sunday, by the National Civil Protection System (Sinaproc) . The entity indicated that it is constantly monitoring due to the strong winds due to the displacement of tropical cyclone Ian, which could become a hurricane in the next 24 hours. According to Sinaproc, the areas under warning are mainly those located on the Pacific slope. In its latest bulletin, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that Tropical Storm Ian is expected to become a hurricane early on Monday and reach the category of major cyclone before reaching western Cuba, while moving toward the northwest at about 12 miles per hour. The still tropical storm was located at the time of the last bulletin approximately 265 miles (425 km) southwest of the island of Grand Cayman and 540 miles (865 km) southeast of the western tip of Cuba advancing with maximum sustained winds 50 miles per hour (85 km/h). “Wide external cloud bands extend from this cyclone, covering sectors from Colombia, Panama to Honduras,” explained Sinaproc. They pointed out that this phenomenon can generate indirect effects in Panama, so significant rains are expected, especially in the mountainous regions.

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