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Saturday, August 30 2014 @ 08:28 AM EDT

"Civil Society" Screeching Over Supreme Court Appointments

Law & LawyersProfessor Miguel Antonio Bernal and the Executive Secretary of the Citizens Alliance for Justice, Magaly Castillo agreed that the appointment of three new judges of the Fifth Chamber is "a fragrant violation of the agreements of the State covenant for justice." For Bernal the designations of Lilia Herrera, Anabel Padilla and Arturo Vallarino as Supreme Court judges should be considered by society as an affront to participatory democracy. "It's sad what's happening in our country, and now with this appointment and violating all the agreements of the pact, signifies a setback for democracy and the Panamanian justice system," said Bernal. "A part from that, it turns out these people are members of the political party of the government and again they are making a mockery," said Castillo said on RPC Radio. Bernal said the Fifth Chamber is "unlawful and unconstitutional" and completely disrupts the constitutional order of the State of Panama. "With the appointment of Mr. Vallarino, Mrs. Herrera, and Mrs. Padilla the gang in the Supreme Court is strengthened," said Bernal. Castillo meanwhile said "the judiciary must be independent, with judges arriving there for their suitability, competence and merit, not because they are friends of the President or people of trust of the ruling party." For the representative of the civil society, in the last 20 years there has been a division of magistrates by parties within the Supreme Court, but the situation is aggravated when they created a new chamber and the balance of power is all in favor of the government.

Last night the Cabinet Council appointed Arturo Vallarino, Annabel Padilla and Lilia Herrera as the new judges who will sit on the Fifth Chamber of the Supreme Court. Following this appointment the Executive will send the trio to the National Assembly for ratification.

Editor's Comment: With these appointments and once they are rubber-stamp ratified by the National Assembly, the Supreme Court of Panama will now have twelve sitting justices. Of those, seven have been appointed by Ricardo Martinelli. He now flat-out owns the Supreme Court. If he wanted to he could change your name to "Sally" and the Supreme Court would rule that it was constitutional. Game, set, match. At this point the only thing Panamanians can do is hope he has good intentions, because Martinelli now owns all three branches of government, lock, stock, and barrel. All of the opposition guys - the PRD, Panameñistas, and these always shrill "civil society" talking heads - will be going nuts. It's a zero sum game. Every grain of power Martinelli accumulates means some other political organization loses something. And he's got it all, right down to dog catcher.

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