After months of uncertainty as to the duration of the tourist visa. I finally have a concrete answer and explanation for the confusion.
In Panama City I met with people close to the story and this story explains too much about government in Panama.
The new Minister of Tourism went to President Martinelli and asked if he could extend the tourist visa to 180 days. The goal was let people stay longer and spend more money in Panama. President Martinelli asked his advisors to check the legality, they reported back, no problem. The President then signed an executive order extending the 90 days to 180 days.
Once this was done and distributed to immigration the College of Lawyers in Panama City met with officials and explained that the law says 90 days and that an executive order could not modify a law passed by the assembly and signed by the former President.
The current status in Immigration is confusion, the status for anyone here on a tourist visa whether it says nothing or 180 days, is that it is only good for 90 days. Regardless of what officials in David or the airport told you, or me. When you exit they can decide to ignore the 90 days and allow 180 or enforce the 90 days and fine you $50 a month for overstaying and at whim forbid re-entry.
My advice, three days in Costa Rica before 90 days or immediately if you are over 90 days; while there is still enough confusion about the process.