Thursday 5th January 2023.

January 5, 2023

The Ministers of Industry and Commerce, Federico Alfaro, and Environment, Milciades Concepción, must appear on January 10 before the National Assembly to answer a 23-questions on the negotiations of the new contract with Minera Panama. This was established by the Board of Directors of the Assembly, after the afternoon of Tuesday, the plenary approved to summon the officials to give the details of the conversations with the company. The officials were summoned for 4:00 p.m. It corresponded to the deputy Juan Diego Vásquez to present and support the summons last Tuesday, which was supported by the various benches of the legislature. Among the questions in the questionnaire are: What is the current state of the negotiations? Is there a roadmap, deadline established for completion? How did the Government arrive at the figure of $375 million in contributions? What are the obstacles holding back the negotiations? Also: The company has said that it agrees with the payment of contributions of $375 million. Is that true? If true, what other condition stops negotiations? Why was it that after months of announcing the agreement, the company decided not to sign the contract?

A criminal complaint for the alleged commission of the crime of infringement of the duties of public servants was filed this Wednesday, before the Public Ministry against the Minister of Public Works, Rafael Sabonge , by the lawyer Abdiel Enrique González Tejeira. The complaint presented by Tejeira states that the poor condition of the streets and avenues throughout the country has been made public in various media and that said situation has caused an undetermined number of vehicular accidents. In his complaint, Tejeira also explains that among these accidents, the death of a patient who was transferred in an ambulance from the Ezequiel Abadía Hospital in Soná, province of Veraguas, was reported. He alleges that the patient died when the ambulance fell into a hole and one of the vehicle’s wheels came off, causing the driver to lose control. In addition, it details that hundreds of users of the road network have reported damage to their vehicles due to the poor condition of the streets. The complaint asks the Public Ministry to carry out a forensic audit of all the programs destined to the repair of streets, maintenance and execution of works.

This Friday, January 6, 2023, the service for collecting signatures in support of pre-candidates for free application will be suspended for 24 hours, through all channels enabled for this purpose. This was announced this Wednesday by the Electoral Tribunal (TE). The presiding magistrate of the TE, Alfredo Juncá Wendehake, recalled that Thursday, January 5, 2023, expires the deadline to make changes of residence, in view of the 2024 general elections. As a result, the Electoral Organization must adapt the register and the electoral registry to be able to continue the process, without affecting any of the candidates, and thus they can have the lists and that the signatures are valid, it was specified. The TE reiterated that, as stipulated in Decree May 29, 2022, on January 5, 2023, the procedures for change of residence must be completed for the publication of the preliminary electoral roll in the Electoral Bulletin , which will take place on Friday the 20th January. The magistrate added that on January 7 the service for collecting support signatures will resume, which “advances at a good pace.” This indicates –according to Wendehake– that technology has helped to eliminate “this serious problem that we had during the last electoral process, which was the appearance of false signatures, signatures of the deceased, signatures of foreigners, of minors, all of this has remained in the past. , despite their small setbacks ”.

As of this January 4, the Tribunal Electoral (TE) issues a new national identity document. This will apply to adults, youth, permanent resident card and, for the first time, the permanent resident card for foreign minors, it was announced this Wednesday, during the official presentation of the document, at the headquarters of the TE. The new national identity document includes a design with high security standards, informed the substitute magistrate and national director of ID, Gilberto Estrada De Icaza. He added that this material is more resistant, with a shorter printing time, which makes delivery to the user faster. It should be noted that these new identity documents will be issued when the current ID expires. In the case of the permanent resident card for minors, the resolution of the National Immigration Service is necessary . During the presentation to the media, Estrada De Icaza said that it is a 100% polycarbonate document, a thermoplastic material with maximum security and maximum durability. It has a map of the national territory in its upper part that has optical ink, a ghost image in one of the corners that contains the date of birth of the citizen, and a world logo that identifies organ donors. On the back of the document there are two QRs (module for storing information in a data matrix or in a two-dimensional barcode): the one on the right side has the user information that appears on the front of the document. While the other QR, that is, the one on the left, has all the biometric data, “but this one is encrypted and the TE is the only one that has the key to decrypt it,” warned Estrada De Icaza. The official also mentioned that the new document has a code associated with the International Civil Aviation Organization standard, which, in the future, may allow “users to travel between countries with which we have agreements without the need for passports. In this presentation were the magistrates Alfredo Juncá Wendehake, Eduardo Valdés Escoffery and Luis Guerra.

Various civil society organizations announced this Tuesday, January 3, that they will file legal actions in the coming days against Law 351 of December 22, 2022, which modifies the organic law of the Comptroller General of the Republic . “We express our concern and resounding rejection of this regulation since it violates the Constitution by creating privileges for officials of the Comptroller’s Office,” says a statement signed by the Center for Democratic Initiatives (CIDEM), Center for Environmental Advocacy (CIAM Panama) , Civitas Panama, Council of Former Presidents of Panama Unions, Civic Space Foundation, Foundation for the Development of Citizen Liberty – Transparency International Panama, Anti-Corruption Citizen Movement, Independent Movement for Panama (MOVIN), Young Panama Movement and the National Network of Youth for Transparency. This new legislation also modified Law 67 of 2008 that regulates the Jurisdiction of Accounts. According to the organizations, Law 351 “weakens Panamanian institutions” in terms of preventing and punishing public corruption, by granting the Comptroller General “discretionary powers that will allow him to decide, without any counterweight, what to investigate or stop investigating.” After learning about the position of these organizations, Controller Gerardo Solís sent a note inviting these groups to a meeting at the institution. The note states that it “publicly invites said civil society organizations to listen to their apprehensions and reasonably present the benefits and advantages of the new law.” Last December, President Laurentino Cortizo sanctioned the law after classifying it as “opportune” and “necessary”, for the updating and modernization of the Panamanian State. The new standard allows the controller to approve or archive audit reports and investigations, ‘at his discretion’.

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