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Daily News - 12 August 1998

Judges to be evaluated after four years
President Leonel Fernández appeared live on television this morning from 8 to 10 am to answer questions by morning talk show hosts of different television channels on why he converted into law the controversial Judicial Career Bill. The program was widely broadcast by most television stations and radio stations all throughout the country.
Controversial aspects of the law are the limiting to four years of the term of the present judges which then will be evaluated by the National Council of the Magistracy prior to their continuing for a new term to be established, and the obligatory retirement age of 75 for all judges. The entire Supreme Court was recently renovated after most of its members were incapable of carrying out their work due to their advanced age.
President Fernández reminded Dominicans that the Supreme Court judges accepted to be evaluated by the National Council of Magistracy for the posts knowing that their appointment would not be for life. Article 17 of the law that rules the Council states that the judges will be appointed for the period determined by the Judicial Career Law that was only passed by Congress on 3 August.
The legal consultant to the Executive Branch, César Pina Toribio upon announcing that the bill had been converted into law yesterday, had said that the President had decided to pass the bill, despite strong opposition of sectors that favor that posts be held for life, because he considers it is a step forward in the judicial reform process presently underway.
Today, President Fernández expanded on this. He said that while the politically-oriented membership of the National Council of the Magistracy does not guarantee its objective, that was that the political forces not appoint the judges, its creation was an intermediate step forward in the judicial reform, such as he said is his passing of the Judicial Career Bill.
The President favors what he calls relative immovability of the judges. In the TV program, the President said that if the judges were given immovability, they would not be accountability to anyone. He feels the system has not reached sufficient maturity to handle this.
As established by the recently passed law, The National Council of the Magistracy will evaluate the performance of the Supreme Court judges after four years. These in turn will evaluate the performance of the judges they have appointed. The Supreme Court has been appointing judges all throughout the national territory.
The President said he has acted as to his convictions, but that the issue can continue to be debated. He said he spoke on television because he wanted his point to get across, and not be subject to the sources of influence within the press forcing him to take a decision by creating favorable public opinion.
The President said he plans to submit to the new Congress that opens next week a bill that would reform the passed law, and would establish a system of relative immovability of the judges, increasing their term to six years but also including provisions to evaluate their performance and permit an extension of their years in service.
Law 327-98 was passed by the Chamber of Deputies on 3 August with the favorable vote of the deputies of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC) and the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD), and a group of deputies from the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), despite the opposition of that party's leadership.
President Fernández said that prior to passing the law he sought to reach a consensus with the PRD in order to pass a law in which both sectors would be in agreement. This was not reached despite presenting the case to party congressional leaders Enmanuel Esquea and Milagros Ortíz.
The president of the Colegio de Abogados has said he favors its passing saying that it avoids the implementation of a judicial dictatorship.

Sectors against the law
The Partido Revolucionario Dominicano announced it would enter recourses attesting to the unconstitutional nature of the recently passed Judicial Career Law before the Supreme Court and the Chamber of Deputies. Likewise, the leading opposition party said it would enter a bill to reform the Judicial Career Law, the Supreme Court of Justice, and the National School of the Magistracy.
Also opposing the Judicial Career Law as promulgated by the President, are more than 40 national organizations. On grounds that their lack of immovability affects the independence of the judges, these complain that the promulgating of the bill is a step backwards in the process of judicial reform. Among the organizations that protest the passing of the bill, are the Fundación Institucionalidad y Justicia, Asociación Nacional de Jóvenes Empresarios, Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra, the Law School of the state university (UASD) and the Consejo Nacional de la Empresa Privada. They all allege that the law is contrary to the Constitution of the Republic.
The President of the Supreme Court of Justice, Dr. Jorge Subero Isa said that despite the passing of the bill, there is no force in the nation that will impede them from maintaining their independence of judgment.

Consensus politics not confrontation
The President advocated for reaching agreements between the branches of government, rather than confrontation. He said that if the PRD seeks to foster confrontation in Congress what would result would be the stagnation of the work of that branch. The PRD does not have the 2/3 of the vote in Congress that would permit PRD deputies to override a presidential veto to a bill.
In his televised talk today, President Fernández said that the government party could vote in favor of Hector Rafael Peguero Méndez, the present President of the Chamber of Deputies who has confronted the leadership of the PRD and seeks to be re-elected with the vote of the PLD and PRSC deputies.
President Fernández said that it is in the best interest of the PRD, if they consider themselves a strong option to win the Presidency in year 2000, to concert with the PLD. He said that the measures the government is proposing were also defended by the PRD in its government program.
Polls say that the PRD has the strongest candidate to win the year 2000 presidential elections, Milagros Ortíz Bosch. Moreover, it is unlikely that the PRD Congress will pass a motion to permit the re-election of President Leonel Fernández, who is the PLD's only strong potential candidate to the presidency. Thus Fernández said that to pass the reforms proposed by the government and that were also contemplated in the PRD government program, will only result in the PRD inheriting a better positioned and stronger economy and fiscal situation.
He said that a long term vision is necessary if the country is to develop economically and socially. He called for a historic pact among politicians with the best interest of the nation foremost. He said that the reduction of tariffs and the increase of the sales tax as a compensatory measure need to be seen as measures that will benefit the nation. He said the PRD is shortsighted not to see that these measures will indeed leave the country in a better economic situation for the next government. It is implied that the PRD could be the next government.
Speaking on TV, President Fernández said that a long term vision to leave behind economic and social underdevelopment. To bring about changes in a democracy is difficult, he said pointing out that it is easier to promote change in a dictatorship. In democracy, he explained, one needs a historic pact, where the national interests are the prevailing factor. "The tariffs reform, the compensatory tributary, are to benefit the nation, not the present government. "They require a historic pact of the national sectors, placing political and individual interests behind so that we can see the 21st century as the great opportunity for all," he said.
"This country needs, in these moments, all to join forces, so that a a historic pact that trascends politics can be reached. If not we will suffer from years of draw back and stagnation."
He said that one of the great lessons he has learned as President is that the Dominican Republic is alone. "The problem of Dominicans will only be solved by Dominicans. We cannot wait for our crisis to be solved by the United States, France or Italy. Dominican problems belong to Dominicans. In the post cold war era each nation has to build its own destiny. That is why we have promoted the development of our international relations, not because those nations are going to solve our problems, but because today nations are interdependent. To participate in today's world we have to adopt measures that bring us up to date with the times, measures that the opposing political parties do not want to understand are for the common good, not to perpetuate ourselves in power."
The President concluded, "He who wants to be an option of power, needs to carry these out now or they will rule in crisis."

PRD declines to pass loans
The PRD senators failed to attend the session yesterday so that the necessary quorum could be met to ratify seven loan contracts pending between the Domincian state and international lending organizations. The loans totalled US$130 million, including several that will expire if they are not passed this week. Government party senator Bautista Antonio Rojas said that the PRD senators are opposing all bills that are in the best interest of the Dominican people. The loans are for public health, education, environment and energy programs.

Scotia Energy to install 300 megawatt plant
The government announced it has reached an agreement with Scotia Energy for the installation of a combined cycle 300 megawatt turbogas power plant in San Pedro de Macoris between the years 1999 and 2000. The government is implementing plans to install 1,400 megawatts from 1996 to 2000, doubling the installed capacity installed at the start of this administration.

One way streets for new commercial area
The City Hall approved street direction changes for the city of Santo Domingo within the areas of the 27 de Febrero, John F. Kennedy, Ortega y Gasset and Winston Churchill avenues. The Fantino Falco, Max Henríquez Ureña, Porfirio Herrera and Roberto Pastoriza sterets are now one way, East-West.
The Gustavo Mejía Ricart, Rafael Augusto Sánchez, Víctor Garrido Puello and Hatuey are now one-way in the West-East direction.
The municipality also ruled that Federico Geraldino and Manuel de Jesús Troncoso are now one-way streets in the North-South direction between Hatuey and 27 de Febrero. Juan Baron and Manuel de Jesus Troncoso are one-way South-North as of Hatuey.
Parking is prohibited on all the streets of the area.
Parking on John F. Kennedy and 27 de Febrero is prohibited from 7 am to 7 pm. Also on Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Ortega y Gasset, Tiradentes, Lope de Vega and Roberto Pastoriza.
The resolution prohibits the construction of gas stations, propane gas plants, car washes, car repair shops, woodwork stores, construction material shops, car dealerships and for the expenditure of alcoholic beverages on Jose Ortega y Gasset, Tiradentes, Lope de Vega and Roberto Pastorizo, Rafael Augusto Sánchez, José A. Soler, Roberto Núñez, Fantino Falco, Manuel de Jesus Troncoso, Agustin Lara, Porfirio Herrera, Victor Garrido Puello, Paseo de los Locutores, Hatuey, Heriberto Pieter among others. Industries are banned from installation in this area.

Autovía del Este to become first private thoroughfare
El Caribe newspaper reported that the Autovía del Este, the announced 59-kilometer Boca Chica to La Romana will be the first private highway. The newspaper reported that a concession will be granted to a private company to build the express highway between Boca Chica and La Romana. The government is also building a coastal highway that will go from Boca Chica passing through Juan Dolio and then on to La Romana. It will shorten the distance between Santo Domingo and La Romana by half. The government will build the boulevard between Boca Chica and San Pedro at an estimated cost of RD$675 million. Engineer Miguel Angel Logroño, director of Programming and Planning of Investments of the Ministry of Public Works, explained that the express highway will be built north of the present highway. The highway will permit a speed of up to 100 kilometers.

BHD purchases Palic
The Grupo BHD has acquired the leading insurance company, Pan American Life and General Inurance Company (Palic). The president of the financial group, Luis Molina Achecar said RD$50 million had been paid.

Cuban-Spaniard deported for being suspect
The director of the National Department of Investigations (DNI), Rear Admiral Sigfrido Pared Pérez said that the government deported a Cuban-Spaniard suspect of conspiring against Fidel Castro, who will visit the Dominican Republic 20-25 August. The unnamed man entered the DR illegally through the frontier with Haiti. He was said to have had on his person a schedule of Fidel Castro's activities in the DR. He was arrested on Sunday in Jimaní and subsequently deported to Spain.

DR wins eight medals in a day at Central American Games
The Dominican Republic had a record day in the Central American and Caribbean Sports Games taking place in Macaraibo, Venezuela. Medals were won in weight lifting and tae kwon do. Weight lifter Wanda Rijo became the first Dominican athlete to win three gold medals in weight lifting. Miosotis Heredia won one gold, one silver and one bronze.
Mateo Felix Rodríguez and Andrés Sebastián won bronze medals. The DR has taken five medals in the tae kwon do championships. The DR has won 17 medals, including four gold, four silver and nine bronze so far. The DR at the third day of competition was in fifth place. Cuba was first with 54, Mexico 51, Venezuela 39, Colombia 23.

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