Monday 5th September 2022.

September 5, 2022

The Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap) reiterated that, for more than 15 years, it has insisted and called for “urgent” reforms to be made to the structure and governance of the Social Security Fund (CSS). In its Sunday column, the organization again emphasized that “the national government has no more time and has to act.” This, after the Technical Actuarial Board referred to the weak financial status of the exclusively defined benefit pension system. In a report delivered to the Social Security administration, this board warned that “time has run out and the necessary measures to balance the regime cannot be delayed. Postponing the decision will have serious economic, political and social consequences for the country.” “The patient dies and with this we will not only have to introduce the structural changes that we have avoided implementing for years, but the cost of being hospitalized for so long will be higher for everyone,” said the Cciap, referring to the situation. in which the CSS is located. The Cciap recalled that in 2021 the employer sector participated in the dialogue established by the Government, reiterating the importance and need for the worker sector to be part of it. At the time, the intervention of the International Labor Organization was considered beneficial. “However, it was said that this body would deliver a report between July and August of this year, but it has not arrived; Meanwhile, the CSS is dying, and it really can’t take another second,” it was reiterated. The organization pointed out that the diagnosis has been made for years and that this administration “has the last chance” to lead a change in the system that guarantees its economic sustainability and the future well-being of all Panamanians. In their opinion, proposing short-term proposals that ignore the country’s demographic and economic reality is to deceive the population and condemn the country to failure. The moment requires us to be realistic and face the situation responsibly, in order to ensure the future of all Panamanians, the union emphasized. “Mr. president! If there is a decision that must be made with a profound impact on the quality of life of its people, this is it. Save our patient”, concluded the writing of camera opina .

José Luis Saiz Villanueva, one of those involved in the Odebrecht bribery case , will remain in prison. This is, after the First Superior Court of Justice did not admit a protection of constitutional guarantees filed by Saiz against the decision of the Superior Court of Appeals to send him to prison, after the breach of the penalty and collaboration agreement for which he had to return to the State $750 thousand. The ruling, under the presentation of Judge Ariadne M. García and dated August 22, concluded that no violation of Saiz’s constitutional guarantees was observed. On the other hand, the attempt to use the amparo of constitutional guarantees as a third instance to object to a judicial decision was observed. The first court indicated that, when examining the recording of the hearing, no indications were perceived to agree to review the decision of the Court of Appeals, since there was no violation of the guarantees of the accused. Saiz is serving a sentence of 47 months in prison because he did not comply with the collaboration agreement and sentence that he agreed with the Public Ministry, on December 18, 2017. In said agreement, Saiz confessed to having been a figurehead for the former Minister of Economy and Finance, Frank De Lima , and, as such, served as an intermediary to receive at least 7 million dollars from Odebrecht. The preliminary hearing of the Odebrecht case is scheduled for September 12 to 30; this, after it was suspended on July 18 due to the absence of several defense attorneys who presented medical excuses. On that occasion, the anti-corruption prosecutor Ruth Morcillo announced that she will request a summons to trial for 50 people investigated for alleged money laundering, including former presidents Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) and Juan Carlos Varela (2014-2019).

22 people provisionally detained, 12 house arrests, five periodic notifications and two convictions. These were the results of the hearing developed by the “Fuego” operation, held on August 24, in Panama, Colon and West Panama. The investigation is carried out by the Specialized Prosecutor for Drug-Related Crimes, around a criminal network allegedly dedicated to drug trafficking to the United States and Europe through the contamination of containers that arrived at the ports in the province of Colón. In the hearing of guarantees, which lasted 11 days, Judge Janina Mosquera considered the imputation of charges for meeting and conspiracy to commit drug-related crimes to the detriment of society, money laundering, corruption of public servants and forgery of documents. During the development of the hearing, two sentences of 60 months in prison were achieved, by means of a sentence agreement for Dr. Virgilio Córdoba, for the commission of the crime of corruption of public officials, and for Roberto Henry, for conspiracy to commit drug-related crimes. . Before the conclusion of the act, an appeal against the precautionary measures was announced, which is scheduled for next September 13, at 8:30 a.m. According to the investigation that began in 2019, members of the criminal network controlled the itineraries of the containers that entered the port of Cristóbal, in Colón, to send the drugs. The network allegedly had the collaboration of port employees, lawyers and a member of the National Police who alerted them about checkpoints and operations.

A Colombian citizen will be provisionally detained, for the case of the seizure of 920 thousand 230 dollars in Vista Alegre, Arraiján, province of Panamá Oeste. In a hearing, the Colombian was charged with the alleged commission of the crime of money laundering and the alteration of a means of transport. And it is by that alteration is where the money was located inside a vehicle with a double bottom. The West Panama drug prosecutor, Carlos Batista, reported that the seized money and the aforementioned car were also seized. Batista said that during the raid and search of a house, a large number of cell phones were found, which were picked up as evidence.

The Ministry of the Environment (Miambiente) is evaluating, together with NGOs and communities of Chiriquí, a proposal to annex 4,408 hectares to La Amistad International Park (PILA), which is shared by Panama and Costa Rica. Currently, in Panamanian territory, La Amistad Park has 215,622 hectares of cloud forest, of which 33.8% is in the province of Bocas del Toro, 58.9% in the Naso Tjer Di region and the remaining 7.3% , in Chiriqui; while in Costa Rica there are another 400 thousand hectares of forest. According to the new proposal, which is part of a consultation process to review the limits of the PILA, what is sought is to annex forest areas that have not been intervened or altered and that are in Chiriquí. In total, this protected area would be left with 20,000 hectares on the Panamanian side. According to the Center for Environmental Incidence (CIAM) , an NGO that participates in the consultation process, the new hectares —according to a satellite verification process— present mature secondary vegetation and mature forests. In this context, CIAM explained that they are supporting the prior disclosure process, for which a series of workshops were held in which the information was presented to various communities in the Highlands for a week. “The aim is to present the information as well as collect the opinions of the participants,” the NGO pointed out.

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