Thursday 4th October 2023.

October 4, 2023


The Electoral Court considered that the reforms to the Electoral Code are “extemporaneous”, shortly after the Government, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Commission of the National Assembly (AN) approved in the first debate a bill that modifies the nomination mechanism for deputies by residue (R) in multi-member circuits.

“There is no legitimacy for a change to the Electoral Code at this time ,” said the president of the TE, Alfredo Juncá, in a press conference called this Wednesday, October 3, together with judges Eduardo Valdés and Luis Guerra. .

“Reforming the Electoral Code just seven months before an electoral event would cause distortions… That, without counting the number of reforms that can be added in the second debate,” Juncá added.

He says this because now Bill 1092 must go to the legislative plenary session, to be approved in the second and third debate. In addition, there are two draft laws presented in the last two weeks, which also reform the Electoral Code : one proposes extending electoral criminal jurisdiction and the other introduces the figure of the second round or runoff.

Although the TE did not participate in the discussion and approval of the project in the first debate, Juncá assured that they have extensively analyzed its content, in the Forum for Electoral Reforms and in the National Commission of Political Parties , with whom the morning of this same Wednesday.

Although the presiding judge recognizes that the Assembly has every right to legislate, he publicly requested that the discussion of project 1092 be suspended.

“The same norms that were interpreted in 2019 are the ones that must be interpreted in 2024. For this reason, we call on the AN to cease this attempt to modify the CE at a time when it is not appropriate for our democracy,” he remarked.

Herbert Young , who represents the Panameñista Party in the National Council of Political Parties, said that project 1092, promoted by PRD deputy Ricardo Torres along with his entire bench, is a “tailor-made suit” to prevent seats from being awarded. by remainder to the candidates for deputy by free nomination.

Young is surprised that Leandro Ávila , president of the Government Commission, is promoting project 1092, since he was awarded a seat by residue, in San Miguelito, in the 2019 election, with the mechanism currently in force in the Electoral Code .

The candidate for president of the Republic for the alliance between the Democratic Change and Panameñista parties, Rómulo Roux , referred this Wednesday to the nomination of Marta Linares de Martinelli , as vice president of the Republic.

During an event organized by the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama, Roux stressed that this issue must be decided by the Electoral Tribunal (TE) and the Supreme Court of Justice.

Currently, there is a debate about whether Marta Linares’ nomination for vice president of the coalition made up of the Realizing Goals and Alliance parties is unconstitutional, since at the head of that list is her husband, former president Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal.

In fact, the candidate went to the Electoral Court last Monday to present her application manually, after it was rejected through the technological platform.

According to Martinelli Berrocal, Roux and the TE magistrate, Eduardo Valdés Escoffery , are the ones who prevent Marta de Martinelli’s nomination from being made official.

“I don’t care if Marta runs or Ricardo Martinelli runs… We are going to win the elections in 2024,” Roux pointed out.

The Electoral Court has until tomorrow, Thursday, to respond to the admission of Linares de Martinelli’s nomination.

The former magistrates of the TE, Guillermo Márquez Amado, considered that this nomination challenges the Constitution itself and the Electoral Code.

Márquez Amado recalled that the regulations indicate that someone who has a fourth degree of consanguinity or a second degree of affinity with the President of the Republic cannot be elected as vice president.

This would apply to the Martinelli spouses. Furthermore, if the former president wins, his wife would not be able to be part of the Cabinet Council, as corresponds to the vice president of the Republic.

“This means that people who are related, such as parents and children, grandparents, uncles, cannot be candidates. The Supreme Court of Justice said in 2015 that when a kinship relationship like that is mentioned, it is understood that that of a spouse is also included. It is completely illogical that the father cannot designate the son but can designate the wife,” he pointed out.

The Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) did not admit a last resort appeal presented by the defense of the former Minister of Social Development, Guillermo Ferrufino , and his wife Milena Vallarino de Ferrufino , to try to annul the six-year prison sentence which was imposed on them a year and a half ago, for unjustified enrichment.

In a decision adopted on September 14, the Criminal Chamber did not admit the appeal presented by the Ferrufino spouses, against the sentence handed down by the Third Court for Liquidation of Criminal Cases (today the Second Court for Liquidation of Criminal Cases).

The ruling was presented by Judge Ariadne Maribel García and was supported by Judge María Eugenia López Arias. On the other hand, Otilda de Valderrama, Maribel Cornejo’s substitute, excepted her vote.

The decision was communicated this October 4, through Edict 266, in which the parties are notified.

In February 2022, the then Third Court of Criminal Cases convicted Ferrufino, as well as his wife, for not having been able to justify a fortune of $2.2 million, accumulated while he was minister of Mides, during the administration of former president Ricardo Martinelli (2009- 2014).

This sentence was confirmed by the Superior Court for Settlement of Criminal Cases.

Ferrufino also maintains a four-year prison sentence for the crime of corruption, issued by the First Criminal Cases Court, for having received donations that allowed him to purchase a truck valued at $110,000.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) validated yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, October 3, that no State entity has signed changes to Law 52 of 2016, modified with Law 254 of 2021.

This means that lawyers who act as resident agents in Panama, without exception, will have the obligation to certify that they know where and how to have access to the accounting records of the off shore companies they represent, as part of the agreements signed by Panama for the exchange of tax information and in accordance with what is established by law. This is the interpretation of the rule given by both the MEF and the General Directorate of Revenue (DGI).

The clarifications arise after a statement was circulated yesterday, Monday, October 2, accredited to the National Bar Association (CNA) and the Action Group for International Financial Equality (Gapifi), in which it was stated that supposedly it had been achieved that the law firms They will be excluded from the requirement of accounting records from their clients.

The document, which bore the organizations’ letterhead, but without the signatures of their representatives, was reproduced on social networks and in various media outlets, for which the general director of Revenue, Publio De Gracia, denied the existence of an alleged agreement reached with officials from the General Directorate of Revenue (DGI) and the Superintendence of Non-Financial Services.

“For almost 10 years, Panama committed, at the Global Forum, to exchanging information for tax purposes; and part of this information is the accounting records that we lawyers must have knowledge of their location. In the event that the DGI requires it, as a result of a request from one of the countries of the Global Forum, that information must be shared,” De Gracia told La Prensa .

The alternatives to supply additional water to the lakes that supply the Panama Canal lean in favor of the construction of a reservoir on the Indio River, said the administrator of the Canal, Ricaurte Vásquez, at a breakfast yesterday, Tuesday, October 3, with the members of the Maritime Chamber of Panama.

Vásquez expressed that although pumping water from Bayano to Gatún and Alajuela lakes was also analyzed in the proposals, the process would be more complicated.

“Río Indio is part of a portfolio of projects that we have in consultation (…). Indio River is the one with the highest level of progress, but it is not the only one,” he said, indicating that they have dedicated two years to evaluate various solutions within the property of the Panama Canal.

He maintained that if the Executive decides to build the reservoir on the Indio River, there will be an impact on a number of communities in the area. “The Panama Canal has demonstrated in its basin management that we are respectful of the residents of the affected areas, even when we do not affect them.”

He explained that the Bayano proposal would remain in the background because the volume of population affected by placing a transfer pipeline with the pumping required from that lake to Alajuela was significantly greater than the costs raised with the Indio River.

“In hierarchical order, the Indio River reservoir proposal comes first,” he reiterated, indicating that Bayano could be an alternative later because more options will be required to supply water to the population.

“Gentlemen, the Panama Canal has never stopped supplying water to Panamanians,” he said.

Vásquez reiterated that “if the Panama Canal currently has a water problem, the entire country has a problem.” He justified the decision to reduce the draft to 44 feet and again restrict the number of transits, which will drop from 32 to 31 daily from November 1st, as a way to manage the water resource.

He admitted that the situation has generated delays for shipping companies and an impact on their routes, but assured that they are taking the necessary measures and informing customers in real time so that they can make their predictions.


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