SILENCE is Golden when applied to the members of Panama’s National Assembly who are there allegedly to enact legislation to benefit the community that elected them including even, God forbid, those who voted for another candidate.
Once in office, they quickly take advantage of the numerous perks that the servants of the people have legislated for themselves from gas allowances to tax-free imported cars. One former Assembly president actually got the state to pay for a furnished cubby hole for “sleep-overs” in the assembly building. Some have inferred another use for the hidden chamber.
Not happy with the official handouts, deputies have discovered other ways to use Assembly funds, provided by the taxpayers they represent.
La Prensa recently uncovered an t operation involving scores of millions of dollars but the Supreme Court has refused to accept denunciations against their fellow travelers.
Earlier there were some faint glimmers of hope when auditors from the Comptroller’s office arrived at the Assembly and apparently set to work investigating “donations” that appeared to travel in a circle from the cookie jar to a “cause” and back to the deputy who initiated the gift, and on the side handed out contracts for work that was never done.
Since the auditor’s arrival the investigation has been wrapped in silence until The Independent Movement (Movin) requested information from the Assembly and the Comptroller General concerning the officials responsible for auditing, approving and verifying the delivery of the donations, subsidies, and contracts of professional services of the legislature
But the blanket of silence remains. The two letters addressed to Assembly president Rubén De León, , and the comptroller, Federico Humbert, were received on April 5 and 6, according to the “received” stamps on copies of the letters.
“As citizens, we have the right to To know who are the officials responsible for authorizing this kind of irregular disbursement and the procedure that was used to approve them, “said Annette Planells, leader of Movin.
“De Leon should deliver the names, cédulas, positions, and functions of all the Assembly workers who have among their tasks to validate, supervise or approve donations and their employment contracts in the period from July 2014 to December 2016 says the letter.
From the Comptroller, Movin requested the names, positions, and certificates of officials of the institution at present in the Assembly, as well as the external ones that validated the questionable payments.
“The absence of response is ” A lack of ethics and the Transparency Law that regulates free access to information,” said Planells.
During its investigations, La Prensa also tried to gain information on those who rubber stamped the irregular payments.
But silence remains golden for the deputies , and a protective wall for the Comptroller.