SENATE President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Senator Franklin Drilon has urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to file criminal charges against the passport maker who is keeping passport holders’ vital information.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin had admitted that they are having a hard time processing passport renewals without the old data which are in the custody of the agency’s former passport contractor.
Sotto and Drilon told DFA to exhaust all efforts to oblige the former contractor to return to the state the records which are under the law owned by the government.
“We should compel the contractor to return this data. Ito ay pag-aari ng gobyerno, public record yan. Wala silang karapatang panghawakan ito. It will cause inconvenience dahil sa mga magrerenew uulitin na naman,” Drilon said.
If the company still refused, then the government may file a case against it.
“Sa akin dapat sampahan ng kaso kung hindi isosoli ng dating service contractor to compel that company to return the records. Public record po ito,” Drilon added.
Sotto sought to allay the public’s alarm saying the DFA can sort out the problem.
“Palagay ko, hindi naman dapat ikabahala pero dapat ikainis. Palagay ko kaya naman ng DFA na magkaroon ng enough protection. Hindi naman naaalarma si Sec. (Teddy) Locsin parang naiinis lang siya, tingin ko makukuha natin yun, ’di maaaring hindi. Magkakaproblema sila,” he said.
But Locsin in an earlier statement lamented that the DFA cannot do anything about the records because of a clause in the contract of the former passport maker prepared by his predecessors.
“Ours is a rule of law. And whoever drafted that idiot contract should have known that rule of law trumps stupidity. I think we lost the case trying to retrieve the data,” Locsin said in a post to Twitter, a social media platform.
“Let’s hope we didn’t do it again. But if we did, don’t look at me,” he added.