Thursday 22nd June 2023.
June 21, 2023
The Supreme Court of Justice ordered the Budget Commission of the National Assembly to deliver information required by the independent candidate for the presidency of the Republic, Eduardo Quirós.
Quirós, on January 18 of this year, asked the commission chaired by PRD deputy Benicio Robinson, an authenticated copy of the minutes of the session with which the president and board of directors of that instance were elected, for the period of sessions covered between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023.
However, the 30 days that the Constitution grants public entities to deliver information required by citizens passed and it was not provided, so the presidential candidate went to Court. He filed a habeas data action .
Unanimously, and with a presentation by Judge Angela Russo, the Court’s magistrates ordered Deputy Cenobia Vargas, secretary of the commission, to deliver the data requested by Quirós. She must do so within five business days from the notification of the judgment.
“We are facing a historic victory. The secretariats of the Assembly commissions have always avoided providing information and keeping their actions in the dark. From now on, any citizen can request information on the proceedings of the Assembly commissions. All the beauties they make with their backs turned to the people are going to come to light in the public light,” Eduardo Quirós said in a statement.
The Budget Commission is the most powerful body of the Legislative body. It approves or rejects the future of the State budget, the millionaire extraordinary credits for the institutions, and the transfers of items. It is also where traffic, favors, interests and pressures move. The appetites of the deputies that make it up set its pace. It was from there that the phrase “what’s for me” arose, in the middle of a public conversation between the director of the Social Security Fund, Enrique Lau, and the representative of Cambio Democrático, Yanibel Ábrego.
Those who obtain the most benefits, as is to be expected, are the managers: president, vice president and secretary of the commission. According to deputies and former deputies consulted, they generally have more contracts on the payroll. If the majority are given the opportunity to recommend works in the budget (roads, bridges, etc.), for $200,000, for example, the directors of this commission get double. It all depends on the ability to “negotiate”.
Another of the advantages that they have is the contact with the ministers and directors of institutions, who periodically knock on the door for transfers of items or extraordinary credits.
Currently the board of directors is made up of: Benicio Robinson (president), Raúl Pineda (vice president) and Cenobia Vargas (general secretary). All three belong to the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party.
Students, teachers and administrators of the University of Panama (UP) marched on Wednesday morning, from the Simón Bolívar library to the headquarters of the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) on Via Espana.
The march, which was called by the rector of the UP Eduardo Flores himself, was carried out to demand a better budget for this house of higher studies, founded in 1935.
Specifically, the UP asked the MEF to approve the budget of 389 million dollars for 2024, which includes an increase of 35 million dollars, to face the growth of the university population of 100,000 students.
“This is the clamor of the university students, we want to build a quality public university,” said Rector Flores, who also mentioned that classrooms, laboratories, and buildings must be maintained. “We do not want pepper spray, this fight is not for one, this fight is for everyone,” the university students chanted at the MEF headquarters, before a large police presence.
Upon arriving at the MEF, a commission headed by Rector Flores met with the Minister of Economy in charge, Jorge Almengor, among other officials of this entity.
In the campaign for the presidential candidacy of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), the Vice President of the Republic, José Gabriel Gaby Carrizo , spoke of his predilection for McDonald’s hamburgers, ate pens in San Miguelito, danced reggaeton with Raúl Pineda and Héctor Valdés Carrasquilla, played drums in Boquete and told on TikTok and Instagram that he does not like to shave.
Unexpectedly he did not give any interview to talk about his proposals or government plans.
For almost 40 minutes, the man who is convinced that in 2024 he will win the presidential elections hand in hand with the PRD, combined the two hats: that of vice president of the Panamanians and that of the presidential candidate of the ruling party. Without the slightest modesty, he mixed issues of official management with political proselytism. He tried to capitalize on the alleged successes of the Laurentino Cortizo administration, whom he fiercely defends. He completely ignored the Electoral Code, which in its article 523 indicates that those who “illegitimately use the assets and resources of the State, for the benefit or against certain pre-candidates, will be punished with up to 3 years in prison and the disqualification from holding public office. candidates or political parties legally constituted or in formation”.
Carrizo praised the government’s handling of the covid-19 pandemic, minimized the deficit of the Social Security Fund (CSS) pension program, dismissed the crisis due to the lack of medicines, said that the lack of transparency was a “ perception” and, regarding “parallel decentralization”, his only complaint is that he does not like that name: the correct thing, according to him, is to call it “strengthening decentralization”.
“The time has come to talk about the execution of our government,” said Carrizo, who resigned as Minister of the Presidency on February 1, precisely to dedicate himself to politics.
The Specialized Prosecutor’s Office against Organized Crime carried out a series of raids on Wednesday in Obarrio, Costa del Este, Avenida Balboa and La Chorrera (West Panama), after an alert from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the existence of a network dedicated to money laundering.
Sources linked to the investigations revealed that it is a money laundering network that operates internationally, and that Panama used to make deposits in bank accounts of legal entities that in turn bought real estate.
According to the investigations, the members of this criminal organization bought real estate, cashed checks and also engaged in the purchase of cryptocurrencies.
The second specialized prosecutor against organized crime, Isis Soto, explained that the investigation began last March, when the legal attaché of the FBI in Panama presented information about a criminal network dedicated to money laundering, coming from crimes such as drug trafficking, fraud, and organized crime.
He specified that during the raids carried out since Tuesday, three people were apprehended, one of them with a 25-year prison sentence for the crime of homicide.
In the nine raids carried out, the sum of $7,000 in cash, checkbooks, debit cards, technological equipment and a vehicle that is presumed to be used by one of the apprehended was found.
Staff of the Superior Prosecutor’s Office Specialized in Crimes of Illicit Association, together with the National Police, carried out the Othar operation this Wednesday. This, with the purpose of locating people dedicated to the crime of gang membership.
So far, some 16 people have been apprehended, detailed prosecutor Sofía Carreño.
The proceedings were carried out in sectors of Barraza, El Chorrillo, San Miguel, San Miguelito, Juan Díaz and Pedregal.
The official emphasized that through this operation they intend to dismantle the “Cofos Time” or “Sin Sentimiento” gang, which maintains territorial control over the San Miguel sector. Carreño explained that this group was already prosecuted years ago, but once the members were released from prison they have continued with these criminal activities (drug cases, homicides and robberies).
The investigation that led to the Othar operation began in the year 2022.
The National Aeronaval Service of Panama (Senan) reported this Tuesday that in the first half of this year it has seized 26.2 tons of drugs, mostly cocaine, within the framework of 56 operations carried out in the coastal areas and territorial waters of the country.
Of the total number of illegal substances seized, the Senan detailed that 17 tons correspond to cocaine, 8.3 tons to marijuana, in addition to 68 packages of base paste (a drug similar to crack).
The Pacific coast is where the transfer of illegal substances occurs the most with 14 tons, while on the Caribbean coast 12.3 tons of narcotics have been seized, according to a statement from the police force.
He also highlighted that of the 97 people apprehended for their direct links to international drug trafficking, 44 are Panamanians, 41 Colombians, 9 Nicaraguans, 2 Costa Ricans and 1 Guatemalan. Only one woman is among those arrested.
The authorities of Panama seized in 2022 the historical figure of 138.41 tons of drugs, of which 108.82 tons were cocaine.
Panama is used as a bridge for drugs that are produced in South America and whose main destination is the United States, the largest cocaine consumer in the world, and also Europe.