Thursday 20th April 2023.

April 19, 2023


The Cabinet Council authorized the Ministry of the Presidency to present to the National Assembly an initiative to modify the Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information.
In a statement, the Presidency of the Republic informed that the proposal is based on the parameters of the Inter-American 2.0 model, which it offers to the member states of the Organization of American States.
“Panama is advancing in terms of access to information legislation with this initiative,” said Elsa Fernández, director of the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (Antai), who added that, among other objectives, it seeks to reach international standards.
It was reported that the initiative incorporates the reduction of the term to 15 business days to respond to the request for information and an additional 15 business days if an extension is requested.
In the same way that the processing of requests for information is extended, that is, they can be made in writing on simple paper, by email, orally or by the technological platforms established for this purpose.
In addition, the procedures related to the request for Habeas Data are maintained and the concept of obligated subjects to provide information is extended, as well as any person who receives funds from the State.
In the Action Plan of the Cortizo government 2019-2024, changes to the Antai law are mentioned, but not to the transparency law. It does indicate that officials would be trained to comply with this standard.
During this presidential administration, several institutions have invoked Law 81 of 2019 (on personal data protection) to deny information of public interest. For example, it has not been possible to know the beneficiaries of the programs of the Authority for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (Ampyme) and of the economic aid of the Institute for the Training and Use of Human Resources (Ifarhu).

A High civil servant and, in addition, contractor of the Presidency of the Republic.
This is the summary of a verified case of conflict of interest that exists in the Directorate of Social Assistance (DAS) , a dependency of the Ministry of the Presidency.
It all started in November 2020 when the DAS, an entity that replaced the controversial National Aid Program (PAN), awarded a series of contracts to a company for the rental of its office in Chitré, Herrera. This is a store in the Stragos building, on Carmelo Spadafora avenue, for which the DAS agreed to pay $21,975.60 per year, which is equivalent to $1,831.30 per month.
However, the entity ignored the fact that the owner of the property is a high official of the government of Laurentino Cortizo. This is Eduardo Cerda Quintero, who at the time the first contract was signed was working as director of the Panamanian Institute of Sports (Pandeportes) and later, when he left that position, he became part of the payroll of the Ministry of Presidency (since May 3, 2021) as institutional executive director, with a monthly salary of $4,000 and another $2,000 for representation expenses; that is, he earns the same as a vice minister. In practice, Cerda is the regional coordinator of the National Operation Center (CON) in Herrera, Los Santos, Coclé and Veraguas.
Even so, the DAS, the office under the charge of Francisco Israel Rodríguez , maintained the rental contract for the premises in Herrera. In 2021, for example, that contract had the status of “extendable”, that is, it could be extended for the following years, as indeed happened.

At least 11 people linked to gang activities and money laundering have been apprehended this Wednesday morning, April 19, by members of the National Police and the Public Ministry, in two operations carried out in four provinces.
Among those arrested is Ezequiel Alarcón, alias Zequi, who was at The Reserve , in the luxury residential complex of Santa María , Costa del Este , the Police reported. Along with him, a woman who was at that time in that residence was arrested, in the operation called “ Operation PTY ”.
According to the authorities, Zequi was already convicted of gang membership and was on the run. Now, the Police explained, he will be prosecuted for the alleged commission of the crime of money laundering.

In the First Administrative Electoral Court there is a file against the deputy of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) Alina González , who was denounced for her alleged participation in activities financed with public funds, after the opening of the electoral process, an activity that is prohibited by the electoral law (article 282).
According to Electoral Bulletin 5329-A, dated Tuesday, April 18, the complaint was filed by the lawyer Angelly Ibarra, who requested that the deputy’s candidacy be disqualified. González, deputy of the 8-9 circuit, an area that in the 2024 elections will be 8-5 (Chilibre, Las Cumbres, Alcalde Díaz, Ernesto Córdoba Campos and Caimitillo), will compete for a candidacy for deputy for that area in the primaries that The PRD will celebrate next June 11.
From February 1 to May 5, pre-candidates and candidates for popular election positions of political parties are prohibited from participating in public works inauguration events or in activities financed with public funds, including works financed by the State under the turnkey modality, under penalty of being disqualified in accordance with the procedure established in article 35 of the Electoral Code. For applicants for a candidacy for free application, this prohibition began to apply as of June 1, 2022, the date on which the race for signatures began.
Alina González, came to the Justo Arosemena palace for the first time with the May 2019 elections. She is currently part of the Education, Culture and Sports commissions; and Women, childhood, youth and the family.

The Ministry of Health (Minsa) confirmed that in epidemiological week number 15 (from April 9 to 15) 743 new cases of covid-19 were registered , while the weekly average of positivity was 4.9%.
Since the pandemic arrived in the country, in March 2020, one million 36 thousand 100 cases of the new coronavirus have accumulated.
Regarding deaths, the Minsa reported that one of previous dates was reported for a total of 8,618. In the last epidemiological week, 15,097 tests were administered for a weekly positivity percentage of 4.9%.
Regarding active cases, the Health authorities detailed that 614 were registered until April 15. Of that number, 52 required hospitalization in the ward and 2 in the Intensive Care Unit.
Between April 8 and 15, the corregimientos with the most confirmed cases were San Francisco (Panama) with 53 cases, Juan Díaz (Panama) 36, Betania 32, Ancón 25 and David 25.
According to data from the Gorgas Memorial Institute, the lineages circulating in the country are: XBB.1.5, 57% of the samples analyzed, 14% of XBB. and XBB.1.15, 7% are also reported. circulation of XBB1.91 and XBB. each.
Regarding the vaccination process against covid-19, the Expanded Immunization Program details that from January 21, 2021, to date, 8 million 872 thousand 417 doses have been applied.
Of this total, 3 million 532 thousand 204 are first doses, 3 million 173 thousand 666 are second doses, 1 million 757 thousand 148 are first reinforcement and 258 thousand 720 are second reinforcement doses.
In addition, it is explained that 130,470 doses of the bivalent vaccine have been applied to people over 12 years of age and 2,719 doses to children from 5 to 11 years of age.
A new batch of vaccines against covid-19 arrived in the country this Wednesday, April 19.
The Ministry of Health (Minsa) detailed that there are 20,440 vaccines: a group is 6,000 doses of pediatric vaccines and 14,440 bivalent vaccines for adults.
According to figures from the Expanded Immunization Program (PAI), to date, 212,400 adult vaccines have been received, which are applied from 12 years of age and older, and 72,000 bivalent pediatric vaccines, which are applied from 5 to 11 years of age.
The Ministry of Health (Minsa) detailed that there are 20,440 vaccines: a group is 6,000 doses of pediatric vaccines and 14,440 bivalent vaccines for adults.
On the other hand, on the night of Tuesday, April 18, they received a new batch of 1 million doses against influenza.
According to the PAI, they will reinforce the vaccination campaign in the Americas that begins next April 22.



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