Pass­port mess must be re­solved Asap

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - METRO - JAKE J. MADERAZO For com­ments and sug­ges­tions, please e-mail [email protected]­hoo.com.

The big­gest ques­tion in the lat­est con­tro­versy hound­ing the De­part­ment of For­eign Af­fairs (DFA) is how the Aquino ad­min­is­tra­tion ma­neu­vered to re­place the Bangko Sen­tral ng Pilip­inas (BSP) as the printer of the Philip­pine pass­port.

In 2006, dur­ing the term of Pres­i­dent Glo­ria Ma­ca­pa­gal-Ar­royo, DFA and BSP hired FCOF of France to print ma­chineread­able pass­ports.

In July 20, 2015, PNoy at­tended the live demon­stra­tion of the new e-pass­port sys­tem in­side a high-se­cu­rity plant op­er­ated by gov­ern­ment-owned com­pany Apo Pro­duc­tion Unit Inc. (APUI) in Mal­var, Batan­gas.

But months be­fore the live demon­stra­tion or on Nov. 14, 2014, APUI and United Graphic Ex­pres­sion Corp. (Ugec) signed a joint ven­ture agree­ment to print e-pass­ports even without the ap­proval of then For­eign Sec­re­tary Al­bert del Rosario.

It was only months after the live demo or on Oct. 15, 2015 that a memorandum of agree­ment (without the ben­e­fit of a pub­lic bid­ding) was signed be­tween Del Rosario and APUI-Ugec. Del Rosario claimed the BSP had in­formed DFA that it no longer wished to print pass­ports. He added that there was noth­ing ir­reg­u­lar in trans­fer­ring the re­spon­si­bil­ity to APUI-Ugec.

But the present ad­min­is­tra­tion thinks oth­er­wise as it in­sists that the print­ing of gov­ern­ment se­cu­rity pa­pers should be done only by govern­men­towned and con­trolled fa­cil­i­ties, and not sub­con­tracted to pri­vate com­pa­nies such as Ugec.

Right now, the in­tegrity of our gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments, in­clud­ing paper cur­ren­cies, doc­u­men­tary stamps, tor­rens ti­tles and other se­cu­rity doc­u­ments, has be­come sus­pect.

This is­sue must be cleared up ASAP.

———— It’s great news that there are still no elec­tion hotspots in Metro Manila months to go be­fore the midterm elec­tions.

Po­lit­i­cal ri­val­ries are very in­tense but many peo­ple be­lieve these will not lead to phys­i­cal vi­o­lence.

But I think the cities of Manila, San Juan, Mal­abon and Makati should be closely watched.

In many ar­eas, can­di­dates are be­gin­ning to show their clout as “elec­tion bud­gets” start to over­flow.

Po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions are now hard at work, lob­by­ing to get the sup­port of the Igle­sia ni Kristo for their re­spec­tive can­di­dates.

But for in­cum­bent may­ors in Que­zon City, Pasay City, Caloocan City, Pasig City, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Navotas, Muntinlupa and Man­daluy­ong, it’s all over but the shout­ing even with weeks to go be­fore the polls.

———— Metro Manila’s horse rac­ing cir­cles are abuzz over Metro Manila Turf Club’s de­ci­sion to sus­pend two su­per­star jock­eys for their “sus­pi­cious” per­for­mances on Jan. 2.

Banned from the Mal­var, Batan­gas race­track for three months were jock­eys Fer­nando “Dunoy” Raquel Jr. for the loss of Wooloomolo, owned by busi­ness­man Bing Tec­son, and lead­ing jockey JB Her­nan­dez for the de­feat of mega-out­stand­ing fa­vorite Garan­ti­sado, owned by Pasay Mayor An­to­nio Cal­ixto.

The bold de­ci­sion against all forms of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties is nec­es­sary to pro­tect the in­tegrity of the horse rac­ing in­dus­try.

———— Who is this sen­a­to­rial can­di­date who made 100 spe­cial kids suf­fer when he ar­rived very late in San Pablo City for the Mardi Gras Fes­ti­val?

A teacher and six other kids were ad­mit­ted to the hos­pi­tal as a re­sult, ac­cord­ing to the chil­dren’s par­ents who were rant­ing on so­cial me­dia.

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