Robinson-Martinelli alliance cut out of committee chairs

National Assembly website down
Benicio Robinson not only lost his bid to continue as head of the budget committee. He and his Martinelista allies were shut out of committee chairs and are also about to lose all of the political patronage jobs that they controlled over the previous year. That would include the people who run the legislature’s website. Thus any official online report of Robinson’s and Martinelli’s rout in the legislature will have to wait.

Sequel to Martinelli’s and Robinson’s failed bid to take over the National Assembly (2)

Robinson gets no committee chairs

by Eric Jackson

The fallout continues from the failed July 1 bid for control of the National Assembly by PRD and CD party bosses Benicio Robinson and Ricardo Martinelli respectively. Robiinson still commands the loyalty of 20 members of his party’s 26 deputies, but on the Cambio Democratico side 13 of the party’s 25 deputies defied Martinelli’s orders to vote in a bloc with Robinson.

In the wake of it Robinson was able to retain a plurality of the PRD directorate and put off internal party elections until October of 2016, and on the strength of that he demanded party unity under his guidance but was ignored by the rebellious legislators. By Robinson’s math, as head of the National Assembly’s largest party caucus he was entitled to retain his position as the chair of the largest and most important of committees, the Budget Committee. Any substantial government spending has to pass through that committee and control over it gives leverage to demand jobs or government contracts to be passed out to loyal supporters. That sort of patronage to use in a prolonged battle for control of the Democratic Revolutionary Party is the last thing that the six dissident legislators want to give Robinson. Nor do any of the elements of the odd coalition that took over the legislature — the Panameñista Party, 12 CD deputies, the six PRD dissidents, the small MOLIRENA and Partido Popular contingents and the assembly’s lone independent — care to keep any of Robinson’s loyalists in political sinecures with the legislature itself. No replacement for the notorious former PRD legislator Franz Wever as the assembly’s secretary general has yet been announced, but surely that move is in the works.

Robinson used various parliamentary tricks to delay committee chair selections for three weeks but in the end he didn’t have the votes. He wll be replaced as chair of the Budget Committee by Jorge Alberto Rosas, a Panameñista from eastern Chiriqui province. The other committee chairs are:

Credentials: Jorge Ivan Arrocha (Panameñista)

Economy & Finance: Miguel Salas (Panameñista)

Commerce: Quibian Panay (PRD)

Infrastructure: Juan Carlos Arango (Partido Popular)

Education: Juan Moya (Panameñista)

Labor & Health: José Luis Castillo (Panameñista)

Communication & Transportation: Héctor Carrasquilla (CD)

Foreign Relations: Dana Castañeda (CD)

Population, Environment & Development: Luis Barría (Panameñista)

Indigenous Affairs: Absalón Herrera (CD)

Agriculture: Juan Miguel Ríos (Panameñista)

Government: Pedro Miguel González (PRD)

Women’s Affairs: Marylin Vallarino (CD)

Municipal Affairs: Javier Ortega (PRD)


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