Ricardo Lombana: Unfortunately, justice in Panama has a price

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In an exclusive interview with Panama Today, Ricardo Lombana, journalist, lawyer and presidential candidate for independent nomination said that one of the main mistakes of the current administration was to lie in campaign over the Constituent Assembly.

Lombana is in the period of collecting signatures and stated that they are promising nothing, "because it is easy to make a brochure and printing it, and anyone can write a government plan. It is written by political strategists,  reflecting what people want to hear instead of what the country needs to discuss ... The main mistake I think the President made was to promise he would reform the system, he was going to promote a Constituent to change the bases of the system that are rotten and when he attracted the independent vote that helped him to win, he filed the proposal".

He mentioned as positive points of the current administration the road map committed to education, a document, which is filed, called the National Water Security Plan; he also thinks that the establishment of diplomatic relations with China is positive, "we must be careful but it is a wise decision".

He stated that the situation with the justice system is serious. "Unfortunately, justice in Panama has a price; it is part of the problem we are experiencing. I’m generalizing. Some judicial officials work with honesty, including the judges, not everyone can always be placed in the same category but I think some Supreme Court Judges are an example. Here a magistrate was tried and convicted and imprisoned for very serious crimes; he was President of the Court at some time. Then another magistrate was being investigated and resigned before the investigation was completed. While that happened a third magistrate, Judge Harry Díaz, in an interview with the newspaper La Prensa, said that the case of Moncada Luna was only the tip of the iceberg of all the corruption in the Plenary Session of the Court. He is still a magistrate. The man who said that Moncada, who is in prison, was nothing compared to what he knew existed. That is the Court that continues to administer justice".

Regarding the publications of the newspaper La Estrella on the use of external lawyers, he said that "these complaints must be investigated; there is an accusation with sources that have spoken and the accusation is serious, a possible manipulation of files or a possible interference of the Security Council in investigations of the Prosecutor’s Office, serious enough to be investigated but the investigation is very delicate because it is very easy to become politicized. A few months of an election operation I find it difficult to conduct an investigation without the influence of politics".

On the electoral issue, the lawyer thinks that the rules that govern the system at this time are unfair to independent candidates. "We have more signatures than several of the political parties in terms of registered membership and those parties can run for presidential candidates even if the candidate gains a thousand votes and we with 50,000, 60,000, 70,000 signatures have not yet secured the ballot."

Lombana considers he is part of a new generation that should get involved in politics, "Panama needs to renew its leadership. I am 44 years old and I am part of that group that represents almost half of the electoral register. In 1987, in the worst years of the dictatorship in this country, the people who were afraid at the time assumed leadership, boosted transformations and took risks. "

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