Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Yasay: Private firm “illegally” printing e-passports

(Eagle News)—Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay on Sunday, Jan. 13, revealed a private company has been printing e-passports illegally at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

According to Yasay, the DFA on Oct. 5, 2015 awarded the contract for the e-printing services to APO Production Unit Inc., a government printing facility, without bidding despite the contract for the procurement and production of machine-readable electronic passports being awarded beforehand to François-Charles Oberthur Fiduciare of France through its Philippine office in Makati.

According to Yasay, the contract was awarded to APO on  condition that no part of the contract can be subcontracted or assigned to a private printer.

“In stark violation of this condition APUI engaged the services of the United Graphic Expression Corporation (UGEC) for the production of the new e-passports,” Yasay said.

According to Yasay, on Feb. 7, 2017, then-Chief Presidential Legal Adviser Salvador Panelo “determined that the assignment of the passport printing services to UGEC was illegal and demanded that all rights over all the personal data, source code, data center and other information relating to the performance of the e-passport printing services unlawfully subcontracted to UGEC be reconveyed to the DFA or be acknowledged to be exclusively owned and controlled by the DFA.”

Yasay said that during the 12th Cabinet meeting on that day, President Rodrigo Duterte instructed him, then as the Foreign Affairs Secretary, and the Secretary of Finance to “discuss with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas the transfer back to the latter the printing of the MREPs..”

“Upon information and belief, it appears that UGEC which continues the illegal production of the e-passports has not complied,” Yasay said.

“Indeed this matter should be thoroughly investigated without any political bias or cover-up so that the whole truth, which the public deserves will be exposed,” he added.

Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said DFA’s former passport maker made off with all passport data after its contract was terminated.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Elmer Cato urged those renewing their passports to bring their birth certificates in view of this.