Ex-DFA chief on passport data mess: Judge level of efficiency during our time

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 14 2019 08:43 AM | Updated as of Jan 14 2019 11:14 AM

A predecessor of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin on Monday refused to comment on the latter's claim that the country's passport woes started during the Arroyo administration and worsened under President Benigno Aquino III.

In a statement, former DFA chief Albert del Rosario said: "I have a high measure of respect for Secretary Locsin' s judgement so I will refuse to comment on his early findings concerning the passport challenges."

Del Rosario, who served as Foreign Affairs Secretary from February 24, 2011 to March 7, 2016, said it has been several years since he left the DFA "and much appears to have happened since then."

"For now, perhaps the public should be left to judge the level of efficiency on passport issuances during our period of responsibility," he said.

He added: "I know that, sooner than later, our SFA will be successful in correcting the current passport problems to the total satisfaction of all our people. Let us manifest our confidence in him."

It was during Del Rosario's term that the Department of Foreign Affairs stopped the issuance of Machine Readable-Ready Passports and Machine Readable Passports and shifted to e-Passports in compliance with the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Locsin earlier revealed the DFA needs to "rebuild" its database for passports issued before 2010 because a "previous outsourced passport maker took all the data when contract terminated."

He then took to Twitter to answer questions about the development, as he offered blistering takes on the incident.

The DFA disclosed the data loss after a netizen asked Locsin about the need to present his birth certificate to renew his travel document.

"Because previous contractor got pissed when terminated it made off with data," Locsin added in a separate post.

The DFA chief said the agency "did nothing about it or couldn't because we were in the wrong."

"What I heard - and there are so many stories in the affected department - they sued us for wrongful termination," Locsin said.

"In fact it was the most respectable company, foreign, French even. So why? Kaching, Kaching, Kaching, Kaching," he said in a tweet.

"And by the way, why was the previous contractor terminated? New technology? Then demand it to acquire the new technology but leave the job to it. Di ba? But that means no kickback. In short, people made money by changing contractor. Ano pa (What else)? S**t," he said.

The National Privacy Commission said it will investigate the claim of Secretary Locsin that a terminated contractor had run off with personal data of passport holders.

For his part, former Foreign Affairs chief Perfecto Yasay said it was during Del Rosario's time that the DFA decided to transfer the printing of passports from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to APO Production Unit Inc., a state-owned firm.

 

He also revealed that APO subcontracted the printing of passports to United Graphic Expression Corp. (UGEC) in violation of the law.

An APO official, however, denied Yasay's claim, saying APO directly undertakes all printing services while UGEC handles other aspects "such as financing, accounting and procurement of supplies and materials."

Former Press Secretary Sonny Coloma also backed APO's claim.

Yasay said there was a cover-up in the APO-UGEC deal involving "powerful members of Congress, including some members of the Commission on Appointments," who allegedly intervened and upheld the contract.