Department of Foreign Affairs to get to bottom of passport fiasco

January 13, 2019
Teodoro Locsin Jr.

THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has vowed to look into the issue surrounding the department’s passport database.

A previous outsourced printer allegedly took off with passport holders’ documents when its contract was terminated.

“I just want it fixed and not repeated. Redundancy of data was promised by previous contractor but not fulfilled or just denied to us. We have no knowledge whatsoever if it has been corrected,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said in a tweet on Saturday night.

Locsin revealed that the previous contractor has made inaccessible the data after its printing contract was terminated.

The other day, the National Privacy Commission (NPC) said it will conduct an independent investigation to determine the facts surrounding the loss of database.

“Any form of non-availability of personal data, infringement of the rights of data subjects, and harms from processing that include inconveniencing the public, must be adequately explained to the satisfaction of the law,” said Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro.

“Rest assured the NPC will continue to champion the rights of Filipino data subjects,” he said, adding that the commission will summon representatives from DFA and concerned agencies, including the alleged contractor.

Locsin blamed the “crooked” passport deal in the past that resulted in the entire passport mess.

“The problem started under GMA’s (former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) DFA and got worse under PNoy’s (former president Benigno Aquino III) DFA. It will be solved by PResident Rodrigo Duterte’s DFA under Locsin,” he said.

“The yellow crowd who perpetrated the passport fraud are in panic because we are going to autopsy their crooked deal,” he added.

In August 2006, the BSP entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with DFA for the production of machine readable electronic passports (MREPs).

The central bank awarded through bidding the main part of the project to French company Francois-Charles Oberthur Fiduciare (FCOF).

However, on Oct. 5, 2015, the DFA awarded the production of the new e-Passport system to the APUI “while the FCOF contract with BSP was subsisting and even as the MREPs made by FCOF continued to be fully compliant with the standards of ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization),” former DFA chief Perfecto Yasay, Jr. has said.

Yasay said the contract was awarded without bidding on condition that no part of the deal 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,” he said.

Senate probe

The Senate is set make an inquiry on the data fiasco at the Department of Foreign Affairs as Senator Koko Pimentel is set to file a resolution to find out more details of how the agency’s passport contractor was able to take the passport holder information based on their contract.

“I am filing a Resolution to find out more. We need to know what other data gathering government agencies have entered into such a contract which is disadvantageous to the government. and the people,” Pimentel told the Senate media.

The senator also asked the DFA to further explain what and how the data was taken away by their contractor amid accusation from Yasay that the agency violated the law by engaging an unauthorized company to produce passports.

With MarlonPurificacion