Don’t go out on a limb or anything here…….”people in the Assembly should be in jail”. No shit
Ricardo Lombana was the big surprise in the 2019 presidential elections, after obtaining an honorable third place with 368,962 votes, having surpassed the candidate of the then ruling Panameñista Party, and being a presidential candidate for free application without the support of any political party .
But now, after a long political journey through remote places throughout the country, which he assures has taken him six years, Lombana, now as a presidential candidate and leader of the Movimiento Otro Camino (Moca) party, says he feels strong enough and believes have the support to win the Presidency of the Republic in the general elections of May 5, 2024.
The young politician, who for the second time aspires to the Presidency of the Republic, spoke with members of the Editorial Board of Grupo El Siglo-La Estrella de Panamá (GESE), where he exposed some issues such as the need to carry out a transformation in the three bodies of the State, carry out a public consultation to reform the Constitution, in addition to questioning deputies of the National Assembly and discussing the possibility of reaching alliances or agreements with other political parties or independent groups that support their project.
Alliances: “We are not closed to any possibility”
On the political side, Lombana explained that Moca already has 50% of the electoral offer defined for all elected positions at the national level and the other 50% is yet to be defined.
“The law gives us until October 31 to fill the vacancies of that 50% and those vacancies will be filled between now and October 31 with candidates of free application, or with Moca candidates or with some agreement or alliance that can be given. in the path. We are not closed to any possibility, when I say no possibility, I limit myself exclusively to those who think the same as us, to those who are willing to make the changes that the country requires, ”he said.
He revealed that he has received messages from those interested in talking and agreeing on those reforms that the country requires. “We have clearly said that we are willing to listen and talk, but we are not willing to give up the head of an alliance or a payroll, in favor of a traditional party, that is not going to happen,” she assured.
Regarding the talks with the Vamos coalition, Lombana said that the dialogue continues. “I understand any political decision they make, but it is still missing; We have until October 31 to fill vacancies and nominate candidates, and they as candidates have until May 5, 2024 to decide whether they want to support a presidential candidate or not, he explained.
Rejection of clientelism
Within his plans, to be elected as the next president of the Republic, the leader of Moca is committed to the reform of the public administration.
“We have reached an alley in which the country cannot dedicate itself once again to postponing the education reform, the reform of the judicial system, the new constitutional architecture and the dismantling of the clientelist system; which is nothing more than transforming a system that is based on the payment of favors: from the little gas tank to the big donors and everything is a transaction instead of the well-being of society”.
He states that one of the things that must be transformed is the merit system for awarding scholarships; the student who makes an effort will be rewarded, and the businessman and investor who invest will be encouraged.
“We are leading the country to collapse with a system only based on whether you support a group politically.” And he added: “We are killing the motivation of an entire youth by tracing a path that says that political favor is the only thing that gets you out of poverty, and not merit or effort or study and responsibility,” he said.
Lombana considers that the first step to dismantle the clientelist State is to practice policies without clientelism. “It costs more, the road is longer, but we are doing what the country needs.”
He maintains that the demonstration that there is an important part of the country that wants to end this clientelist system are the almost 400,000 votes he obtained in the 2019 election.
education and jobs
On the educational issue, he said that he will emphasize the training of educators with the transformation of the Juan Demóstenes Arosemena Normal School in Santiago, into a teacher training institute. A subject that he, he assures, he has already discussed with various unions in the education sector.
Regarding the economic situation of the country, he stated that it is “worrying”, especially due to the lack of jobs and opportunities. “We have been precisely reviewing the status of the lines in which greater savings can be generated in finances. We are talking about savings of between $500 million and $750 million a month. We are identifying specific amounts that may be used for investment and not for operating expenses, and also in the more aggressive use of Public-Private Partnership figures to generate more investment and more jobs.
Reforms to the Constitution and organized crime in politics
In the constitutional sphere, Lombana considers that a structural reform must be made to the three State bodies, however, he indicated that the best thing –to reach the Presidency of the Republic– is to call a public consultation and “that it not be Lombana nor the government of Lombana the one that decides, but that it is the population and gives the legitimacy to the government of the moment to start the process, be it reforms or the constituent one”.
Faced with how to prevent questioned people from being elected as constituents to participate in a reform process, he argued that in this scenario there is a solution. “That’s where I mention the hard line a bit. There are people who are in the Assembly and there are people who would like to run as a constituent who should have been in jail for a while, and from the Presidency of the Republic I cannot put anyone in jail, but I can provide all the evidence to a prosecutor or a attorney to do her job. We are going to do what has to be done so that those who do not have to run, do not run if they have to render an account to justice; the State is going to exercise its authority, ”he warned.
He even added that there are citizens from the National Assembly who are openly engaging in criminal acts, and no one puts a bell on the cat. “I say this with great responsibility because there are those who think that you have to continue negotiating with criminals because that is what they call governance… that is not governance, it is negotiating with different political factions to reach country agreements; that is governance”. “Continuing to subject the President of the Republic to a kidnapping with State resources by a group of criminals wrapped up in deputies, that is a crime that disrespects the State,” he exclaimed.
In terms of security, he believes that it is increasingly notable that Panama, for being a transit country and for drugs that come from the south to the north, is being penetrated by organized crime. “This is becoming more and more notable, here they arrest representatives of the corregimiento, they arrest mayors, they murder or arrest people very close to deputies of the Republic and each time organized crime comes closer and gains more ground against the political activity of the country and in the composition of our institutions”.
“I say this because the government will never have the capacity to fight crime, if crime is with its tentacles. You cannot negotiate with that, we have a firm position of not negotiating with criminals, neither those on the street nor those in coats and ties, we must fall with the full weight of the State on those who are breaking the law, they are making this country insecure, scaring away investments and creating situations of anxiety”, he argued.
Regarding the transformation required by the Social Security Fund (CSS), Lombana maintained that they are listening to all positions and said that they know that kicking the ball is not an option. “Decisions have to be made, but we are very convinced that there is no formula to raise this discussion before public opinion, if first the administration of the Social Security Fund does not give real and tangible signs that there is responsible management in the management of the finances of the institution, the appointments in the institution, the services provided by the institution and with corruption within the institution.
“We are evaluating all the scenarios, including who has the power to appoint and dismiss the members of the board of directors. There are a lot of things that are not happening that are the legal obligation of the Social Security Fund. It is immoral to propose to the Panamanian population any type of sacrifice scenario with parametric or related measures, if first there is no tangible demonstration that Benicio Robinson (PRD deputy) is not going to have a quota of 1,500 appointments just because, in the Social Security Fund. All the members of the board of directors of the Fund are allowing this, ”he denounced.
‘Control institutions must work’
Lombana also questioned the comptroller of the Republic, Gerardo Solís.
“These positions have to have suitable, independent and impartial people. The unprecedented waste of public funds by this administration has been endorsed by Comptroller Solís, who has acted as a PRD activist. The control institutions have to work and the Electoral Prosecutor’s Office is also in the hands of the PRD, and the story continues that nobody supervises and nobody applies the electoral law, when here the use of money from decentralization for politics is clear and evident ”, concluded Lombana.
The meeting in Lombana with members of the Editorial Board of the GESE Group is part of a program of meetings that will be held with all the presidential candidates. The candidate for the PRD, José Gabriel Carrizo, has already visited this newspaper; the candidate for Realizando Metas, Ricardo Martinelli, and the candidate for the Panameñista Party, José Isabel Blandón.