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Daily News - Thursday, 04 December 2008

Pre-paid power for barrios
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce (SEIC) is spending RD$286,956,686 on a pilot plan for electricity to be pre-paid by consumers, in the framework of the Blackouts Reduction Plan (PRA).
The project is funded by the European Union through the National Office for European Development Funds (ONFED), and will be implemented by the SEIC's Non-Conventional Energy Department and coordinated with energy distributors Ede-Norte, Ede-Sur and Ede-Este.
The initiative, according to El Nuevo Diario, began in the barrios of Pueblo Nuevo and El Caliche in Cristo Rey, that come under Ede-Sur; in San Bartolo (Las Americas Highway), that is served by Ede-Este, and in Hato Mayor in Santiago, that comes under Ede-Norte.
In these areas, employees are doing promotion work, setting up posts, stringing electricity lines and other installations related to the project. The clients will use a card system similar to that used for cellphone service.
Salvador Rivas, the engineer in charge of the Non-Conventional Energy Department at SEIC, explained that the project is aimed at eliminating what are called "Technical and non-technical losses" in the distribution system, estimated to be as high as 40% and that in 2005 represented US$500 million in lost energy.
Another objective is to end energy theft by using individual hookups to the system of individual connections from distribution centers that connect 25 users in one place. The design of the program took into account the statistical maps of the poorest barrios of Santo Domingo and Santiago by the Department of Non-Conventional Energy. It was discovered that 60% of these homes had residential phone lines and 30% possessed cell phones. This showed them that "most residents could pay for the electricity service they receive if there is a way to invoice it adjusted to their financial conditions."

Public employees can choose
The Administrative Contentious Tribunal for the National District has ruled against any disposition that limits free competition in the selection of a Health Service Provider (ARS) within the Dominican Social Security System. The decision is contained in a decree issued by the First Chamber of the court yesterday that accepts a complaint from three ARS against a resolution that obliges government employees to affiliate with the National Health System (SENASA). The court suspended for an indefinite period the Resolution 159-08 of the Superintendence of Health and Labor Risks (Sisalril) that called for the transfer of all state employees to Senasa. On 7 August the ARS Humana, Colonial and Monumental filed a complaint against Senasa and the Social Security Treasury, on the grounds that the resolution violated their rights of commercial equality, freedom and legality.

New codes threaten Dominican law
The Dominican legal system is in a serious situation, because of the introduction of foreign codes and statutes into the country's legislation, threatening its very existence, according to a complaint by Victor Joaquin Castellanos, president of the recently created Dominican Law Academy.
The academy was created with the aim of ending the "periodic mutilations" that Dominican legislations suffers, and he said that one of the main evidence for this can be found in the Penal process Code that is currently in effect.
Even though he did not consider all of the code to be negative, he said that it has been grafted into the judicial order without previous training for magistrates and society.
The jurist said, moreover, that another example of the mutilations of Dominican legislation is the Law on Real Estate that was approved in spite of the fact that the previous legislation, the Law of Land Rights was fairly adequate.
He said, "This new law has confused magistrates and lawyers who, at times, do not know how to proceed in the courts."
Castellanos cited other threats, such as the legislative proposal to reform the Civil Procedure Code, which would incorporate aspects of the Uruguayan model, as well as the proposal for the Family Code that, if the Civil Code is approved, will become a brochure.
The noted lawyer said, "If we do not take a proactive stance, we will end up in a legal order made up of a mosaic of legislation without any links between the pieces and that are at odds with our judicial traditions, and this is why we have founded the Academy."

Leonel Almonte case complaint
The Supreme Court has awarded the Department of Inspections the task of digging deep into a complaint made by the former president of the Joint Tribunal of the First Instance in San Juan de la Maguana, Maria Elena Quevedo Rosario.
The magistrate, who was demoted and transferred to a Court of Instruction in Las Matas de Farfan, questioned judicial independence, complaining of pressures and interference in her decisions by her immediate superior.
The president of the Supreme Court, Jorge Subero Isa, told reporters from Diario Libre that investigators would also look into the job performance while the judge was on the Joint Tribunal.
Answering reporter's questions, he said, "Ever since the magistrate made her first public complaint, our office asked the Investigations Department to conduct a thorough investigation, especially concerning what was complained about by the magistrate as well as her job performance while she was presiding judge on the Joint Tribunal." The magistrate accused the president of the Penal Chamber of the Court of Appeals of that judicial department (San Juan de la Maguana), Manuel Antonio Ramirez Susana, of pressuring her to issue a guilty verdict against former banker Leonel Almonte. "There are fellow judges who witnessed the pressures that I have complained about, because he always went there to question me about why a specific case should be cancelled, and he said to me, "Maria Elena, above all be careful, because all eyes are on you because you are the presiding magistrate and you are responsible," she said. Judge Quevedo said that Ramirez sent inspectors, who were assigned to watch her cases. "In other words, he was always pressuring me, tricking me, blackmailing me," she emphasized, after saying that he (Ramirez) "got angry and said that I had to condemn Leonel Almonte."

Court rejects Guerrero complaint
The entire Supreme Court (SJC) has decreed that a complaint filed against Senator Wilton Guerrero for defamation of character and damages by the former prosecutor for Bani, Victor Cordero was inadmissible.
The highest tribunal took its decision on the grounds that the complaint filed by Cordero was not precise in its accusations.
The court accepted the written description of the incidents presented by Guerrero's lawyers on 27 October in which they asked for the case to be dismissed.
Upon the conclusion of the court session Cordero said that the decision "was the Chronicle of a Death Foretold", a reference to the novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and dismissed it as a "bundle of judicial papers" from Chief Justice Jorge Subero Isa.
He asked reporters from Hoy, "How could I have written up my accusation incorrectly when I have spent eight years in the Justice Department?"
Meanwhile Guerrero said that the high court's decision gives him the opportunity to continue to "keep the flag of values flying on high."
Cordero was represented by Juan Aybar, and Guerrero's defense team was composed of Antonio Delgado, Joan Manuel Alcantara, Rafael Paz and Miguel Angel Prestol. Referring to the decision, Delgado said that the sentences emitted by the Supreme Court in favor of Guerrero reaffirmed the right of the press to inform and obtain information, setting procedural principles of jurisprudence to protect citizens who face penal prosecution for presumed violations of the Law on public expression and diffusion of thought in an "arbitrary and dangerous manner."

Exchange houses claim discrimination
The placement of dollars channeled through financial institutions and without the participation of the currency exchange agencies that act within the market constitutes a privilege by the Central Bank that favors one sector in prejudice of another.
This is the opinion of Augusto Peignand, the president of the Dominican Association of Money Exchangers (Adocambio), as he questioned the fact that the monetary authorities did not take the exchange houses in to account for the latest injection of dollars that was announced by the Central Bank and that was said to be between US$50 million and US$100 million.
Peignand said, "We were not involved and we do not know why; we barely knew of the injection through the press, when we understand that we should all be called in." Peignand said he was trying to get the Central Bank to explain why the exchange houses had been excluded from the distribution of the dollars. He said he felt that as a part of the regulated agencies in the market, they should have been allowed to participate on an equal basis with the financial institutions in order for the sale of dollars to be more equitable, especially if this were to be done based on the amounts handled by each sector.
Some economists questioned by Diario Libre reporters on this issue said they also understood that with the opening of all of the sectors dollars could be sold at better prices and as a result, the authorities obtain greater profits.
Legislator and president of "Comercializadora de Capitales" currency exchange company Alberto Atallah indicated that they were not convened despite the fact that new injections of dollars have always been an open matter. He said, "I understand that when the injection-of dollars-is made in an open way, there is a greater effect because it is not the same thing when you reach 30 intermediaries and they reach a much greater group of clients in medium-sized operations. This, logically, creates a greater impact, because people see that there is a flow of money, and you can put a halt to what could be, not speculation, but rather expectations."
Echoing Atallah's statement, another six representatives from the exchange sector said that they had not been informed about the injection of dollars and they wondered why the Central Bank had excluded them. Although Diario Libre tried to get an explanation from the Central Bank, as of yesterday it was not forthcoming. The economist and member of the PRD party's policy commission, Andres Dauhajre, emphasized the discretional powers that the monetary authorities have over the process of injecting dollars, although he understands that the ideal thing would be equal distribution across the entire sector.
When he was questioned about the way that the monetary interventions were carried out, he answered, "What is perceived is that the Central Bank uses an inefficient mechanism that loses them money." He explained the "we are dealing with placing dollars at a below-market rate and when the Central Bank purchases dollars, they do it more expensively, and this difference generates a loss in the exchange of money for the Central Bank."

Cela wants to gird the poor
Prominent priest and sociologist Father Jorge Cela said yesterday that the fact that the Dominican economy is not armored against the international financial crisis, means that "the country's poorer citizens need to be protected in the 2009 budget".
Interviewed on the Uno+Uno breakfast TV program on Channel 2, the Catholic priest said that the state has a responsibility towards its poorest citizens, and when discussing the 2009 budget, the state should put an emphasis on social policies that favor the poor by guaranteeing that they receive basic services.
When asked to detail his proposals, Father Cela said that the economy of the poor functions with very simple elements, like public services, which "guarantee survival for the poor."
If the poor have health and education guaranteed, this "gives them the chance of survival."
Drinking water and transportation are two more basic needs for poor people, providing protection against the crisis. Cela said that once these basics are covered, they need jobs, so job creation should be a priority.

Criticism of prosecutors in police stations
The executive director of the foundation for Institutionalism and Justice (Finjus), said that this group has never agreed with the idea that prosecutor's offices should operate in police stations, due to the negative consequences that derive from this relationship.
According to Servio Tulio Castanos Guzman, "We cannot be in agreement because, historically, the police do not like to be controlled, but the Ministry of Justice doesn't like to be controlled either."
In order to avoid confrontations that do not contribute to the strengthening of the institution or the clarification of some investigative process, Castanos proposes that the Judicial Police go to the prosecutors and that complaints that are under the jurisdiction of the Judicial System should not be heard in any police station. Nonetheless, Guzman approves of the way in which prosecutors and the police have begun to separate their specific functions over the last few years, without much interference that could affect their relationship.
All this has emerged as a result of stipulations in the Statute of the Judicial Department and the Penal Process Code that gives the former the responsibility to direct the investigation into a crime.
Castanos reminded reporters from El Caribe that due to the clashes between the two bodies, many cases have been thrown out. In spite of improvements, Castanos said that there were still many police stations where the commanders still do not understand the importance of the procedures. Castanos gave the example of a case of a flagrant crime being committed requiring immediate police action, and wherein no representatives of the justice Department can act under any circumstance.
He went on to say that during the interrogation phase, the police have to assist the prosecutors who are directing the investigations. He said "The police cannot continue to excuse themselves in a case of flagrant crime because a law does not allow it, because this is not true. They have six hours to act. But they can never conduct an interrogation without the presence of a member of the Judicial Department present."

Franjul is back at the Listin Diario
Journalist Miguel Franjul returned to his post as Listin Diario editor yesterday, after being officially sworn in by the newspaper's proprietor Ramon Baez Romano. The ceremony took place at Listin's editorial offices.
Baez Romano called Franjul the "historic director of Listin Diario" because of the progress made during his various times at the newspaper's helm.
This is the third occasion that Franjul has served as the paper's director.
Baez Romano said "I am happy to tell you that journalist Miguel Franjul, the historical director of Listin Diario, will resume his position from this moment on, and I want to take this opportunity to thank Alicia Estevez for accepting the interim directorship for this period."
Franjul replaces Antonio Gil who was relieved of his job last Tuesday.

Wednesday's newspapers did not carry the story because the game was still tied when they went to press. However, Licey finally defeated the Gigantes del Cibao, 10-9, after 18 innings of tense baseball. The game saw the Tigres come back three times from certain defeat and tie the game. Once in the seventh inning, once again in the ninth inning and still once more in the 13th inning when a bases-loaded homerun by Erick Aybar tied the game one last time.
Yesterday the Aguilas Cibaenas defeated Licey 10-4 in the Cibao Stadium, the Estrellas Orientales defeated the Leones del Escogido 7-5 in the Quisqueya Stadium and the Toros defeated the Gigantes 3-2 in the Francisco Micheli Stadium in La Romana.
Team W-L Avg. Games Behind
GIGANTES 22 - 16 .579 --
LICEY 21 - 17 .553 1.0
TOROS 21 - 17 .553 1.0
AGUILAS 20 - 18 .526 2.0
ESCOGIDO 18 - 20 .474 4.0
ESTRELLAS 12 - 26 .316 10.0
No games are scheduled for tonight.
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