Controversial passport printing deal to undergo review 'soon': DFA chief

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 28 2022 08:24 PM

The Philippine Passport. ABS-CBN News
The Philippine Passport. ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday said their controversial memorandum of agreement (MOA) with APO Production Unit, Inc. for the printing of passports would undergo a review "soon" before the deal's expiration.

During the Commission on Appointments (CA) hearing on DFA Secretary Manalo's nomination, Surigao del Sur. Rep. Johnny Pimentel asked about the status of the MOA and if it was still in effect.

In 2016, it was discovered that APO, a government-owned and controlled corporation, tapped private firm United Graphic Expression Corporation (UGEC) to undertake the task of printing the Philippine passports, which was allegedly in violation of procurement laws.

"We found out that this MOA granting authority to APO to print passports is disadvantageous to the government because... APO subcontracted the printing to UGEC," Pimentel recalled.

"Actually wala nang ginagawa ang APO... so wala ring sibli," he added.

According to Manalo, the MOA is set to end soon, either later this year or early next year.

"I think we will review [it] at the end of the year because it'll be expiring soon. And we will see whether it should be continued or there's other alternative sources," Manalo told the CA members.

In 2019, APO had claimed it directly undertakes all printing services while UGEC handles other aspects "such as financing, accounting and procurement of supplies and materials."

The late Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., in March 2018, blamed the transfer of the printing of e-passports from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to the APO Production Unit for the delay in processing of passport applications.

Yasay said the government's deal with APO Production Unit was hurriedly signed and was disadvantageous to government.

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