Tuesday 21st May 2024.

May 20, 2024


A report that the National Customs Authority (ANA) delivered to La Prensa shows that 57 main deputies (38 current) and 33 substitutes imported 116 vehicles for an amount of $5.3 million, taking advantage of the benefits of Law 49 of 1984, that dictates the internal regulations of the National Assembly (AN), between January 2019 and March 2024. Of that amount, at least $3 million corresponds to 38 current deputies.

This rule, in its article 236, provides that deputies may acquire up to two vehicles for their personal use and that of their dependent family members, free of the introduction tax and other taxes, during the five-year period in which they hold office. In the event that the vehicle is stolen, stolen or declared a total loss due to an accident, the deputy may benefit from a new exemption and import another one.

The National Assembly (AN) denied that deputies bought their personal vehicles with public funds and justified that they have the same “prerogatives, emoluments and allowances as ministers of State.”

The statement is in a four-paragraph statement released this Monday, May 20, the same day that the newspaper La Prensa revealed that 57 main deputies (38 current and 19 from the 2014-2019 five-year period) and 33 substitutes acquired 116 vehicles, for an amount of $5.3 million, between January 2019 and March 2024, taking advantage of the benefit of tax-free importation granted by the internal regulations of the AN. According to a report from the National Customs Authority, at least $3 million corresponds to 38 current deputies.

As a consequence of these exonerations, the national coffers stopped receiving $1.4 million.

In the AN statement, it was indicated that it is “false” that the vehicles imported by the deputies have been paid for with “people’s money”, clarifying that each one was acquired with their own money.

Likewise, it was reported that, at the request of the board of directors of the AN, 12 vehicles were rented for the fifth legislative period, the last year of this administration, to be used by the president, the first and second vice president, the secretary and the undersecretary. general, the bench coordinators and the management officials of the institution.

Furthermore, they warn that these are the same “prerogatives, emoluments and allowances” that ministers of State receive.

This statement confirms the information published by La Prensa.

The elected representative of the 8-6 circuit for the Realizing Goals (RM) party , Alaín Cedeño , is at the center of the controversy after the Electoral General Prosecutor’s Office challenged his election.

The basis of the challenge is that Cedeño would have exceeded the permitted spending limit for said popularly elected position.

According to Cedeño, he is accused of having allocated more than $300,000 to the campaign , when it was only $39,000. In fact, he told this medium that he presented the corresponding expense reports to the Electoral Tribunal (TE). “I hope that the Electoral Tribunal does not give way to that,” he stated.

Also, on his social networks, the politician directly pointed out the president of the Alianza party, José Muñoz Molina , who in turn was a candidate for deputy for the same electoral circuit, which includes the townships of Pacora, 24 de Diciembre, Las Mañanitas, Tocumen, Las Garzas and others.

“The Electoral General Prosecutor’s Office has challenged me, trying to take away my seat to give it to José Muñoz,” said the current deputy.

Both politicians are part of RM and Alianza, a coalition that led José Raúl Mulino to the Presidency of the Republic during the last elections on May 5.

The electoral regulations establish that, for deputy positions, the private financing limit is $300,000 per candidate, of which $90,000 can be used for propaganda in the general election. In these cases, the cap is the same for everyone, regardless of the circuit they represent and its size.

Regarding the maximum individual donation for deputies, it is established at $75 thousand. For partisan primaries and during the signature collection process, in the case of free-nomination candidates, the limit is $100,000 each.

This medium has tried to get a reaction from Muñoz on this issue, but so far has not received a response.

Alejandro Pérez, candidate for deputy for the Realizing Goals (RM) party, filed a lawsuit last Sunday, May 19, requesting the annulment of the election and the proclamation of the deputies who were elected in the 8-4 circuit.

Through a statement, Pérez stated that he “was forced” to take this action because the seat “was taken away fraudulently,” through irregularities in the electoral count, which were evidenced in the transmission of the results of the election. Electoral Tribunal .

On May 9, four days after the elections, it was determined that the five seats in the 8-4 circuit would be awarded to Roberto Zúñiga  and Jorge Bloise , from the independent Vamos coalition; Javier Sucre , from the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), and Ernesto Cedeño and Grace Hernández , from the Otro Camino Movement (Moca).

During the days of vote counting, and in response to Pérez’s claims, the president of the 8-4 circuit scrutiny board, Mario Díaz, stated that “there are no inconsistencies here, and there have not been any. Here is all the data that has been needed, has been obtained, has been requested, has been sought.”

According to Pérez, the documentary, expert and testimonial evidence presented shows irregularities and illegalities. Among these: arithmetic inconsistencies, minutes signed by people outside the voting stations, corrections in the scrutiny board of table minutes and the lack of reflection of flat votes in the calculation of the RM party candidates.

In addition, he assures, that records with swollen votes and false votes were detected, as well as voting stations that registered more voters than those registered, Pérez maintains.

The candidate emphasized that these irregularities were intended to inflate the electoral quotient figure, harming the RM party. Now, he demands that the electoral authorities count the 11 minutes not considered or that new elections be held in the 25 contested tables.

For the second time, the Supreme Court of Justice rejected an appeal that sought to repeal several articles of Law 40 of November 3, 2023 , which prohibits open pit metal mining.

This is a warning of unconstitutionality against articles 1, 2, 3, and 4 of Law No. 407 of November 3, 2023, which was presented by Rafael Morales, representing Minera Santeña, a company that maintains several concessions for the exploitation of gold and silver in various parts of the country.

The warning intended for the Court to declare the four aforementioned articles unconstitutional, alleging that they violate the Constitution .

However, the full Court – under the presentation of Judge María Cristina Chen Stanziola – specifies that in this case the plaintiff has not pointed out in a clear and reasoned manner the concept of constitutional infringement.

The ruling specifies that the complaint only makes a series of subjective considerations and is limited to making a transcription of the rule, but without exposing a concept of infringement.

It also explains that the arguments presented in the lawsuit do not allow the constitutional court to conclude or clearly identify how the clash of articles 1, 2, 3, 4 against the Constitution takes place .

The ruling states that the lawsuit had to support the clash arising from the content of Law 407 and the Constitution, but that no clear allegations were presented about that situation.

Last March the Court rejected a first claim of unconstitutionality also filed by Minera Santeña against Law 407, on that occasion the Court did not admit the appeal alleging non-compliance with formal elements for admission.

According to the website of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, since 2022, Minera Santeña has several requests to carry out mining explorations in towns such as Bahía Honda, Veraguas; in Guararé, El Carate and El Pedregoso in the province of Los Santos, among others.

The ban on the exploitation of open pit metal mining occurred after a series of protests by civil society organizations and environmental groups, who alleged that the exploitation of metal mines causes serious damage to the environment, contaminates water and the air of the surrounding towns.

The ambitious project of Line 3 of the Panama Metro has undergone significant changes in its structure and budget. These adjustments derive from the apparent need to modify its crossing through the Panama Canal, which has caused the price of the connectivity that is being sought for the population of Western Panama to skyrocket.

The most important change is that line 3 of the Panama Metro, instead of using the fourth bridge, will pass through a tunnel under the Canal bed, 50 meters below sea level.

This change has represented an increase in the original contract price from $2.844 million to $3.194 million, for now.

The modifications, so far, have meant an increase of $350 million, but there are still components that must be approved after reviewing the pending budgets.

Once an agreement is reached with the contractor, the corresponding additional amount will be communicated, according to the Panama Metro.

Originally, a work had been structured that included 14 stations and a fleet of 28 trains, with a crossing over the Canal in the infrastructure of the fourth bridge to be built by the MOP.

After the reforms, the number of stations was reduced to 11 and the train fleet to 26, adding the crossing under the Panama Canal through tunnels and connecting trenches.

Line 3 will travel for 25 kilometers from the Albrook station, continuing underground for 6 kilometers, passing under the Panama Canal, to the Panama Pacífico station, in Arraiján, where the elevated section begins to end its journey at the station. City of the future.

It is expected to benefit 160 thousand passengers daily, with a travel time of 45 minutes per section.

The Metro told La Prensa that to date the project modifications associated with the launch well, tunnel built with a tunnel boring machine, the evacuation well in the Balboa sector and the evacuation well on the east side of the Panama Canal have been formalized. .

“As for the other components, progress has been made in the review of pending budgets and once an agreement is reached with the contractor, the corresponding additional amount will be communicated,” said the state company.

This means that the project will be above the $3,194 million that until now has been counted as the price of the work.

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