Incompetence and irregularity in passport making

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - January 21, 2019 - 12:00am

The current uproar on the possible violations of the Data Privacy Act resulting from the outsourced passport-making firm’s alleged refusal to return the highly-confidential and sensitive data and documents of private citizens is just the tip of the iceberg in the greater and more embarrassing gross incompetence of public officials both in the past administration and in the present government.

Incompetence and irregularity in the performance of very vital functions entrusted to high-caliber and well-paid public functionaries who bungled their jobs and must be forthwith held to account. Those found guilty must be fired and consigned to ignominy for either gross incompetence or deceit, or both.

First of all, for the longest time in our history, passport preparation and issuance were public functions that are imbued with high degree of trust and confidence. Since the time of presidents Emilio Aguinaldo, Manuel L. Quezon, Sergio Osmeña Sr., Manuel A. Roxas, Elpidio Quirino, Ramon Magsaysay, Carlos P. Garcia, Diosdado Macapagal, Ferdinand Marcos, Corazon C. Aquino, FVR and Erap, passport making had never been entrusted to a non-government person or entity. It was GMA and PNoy who started this highly-irregular decision to delegate to an unaccountable firm such an intricate and sensitive function.

The crazy thing about it was that technology was archaic during the terms of the earlier presidents. Now that we are all high-tech, the government decides to entrust this very vital function to some little Indians who just want to make money.

It appears that during the time of former DFA secretary Albert del Rosario, a French company was commissioned reportedly to do this very delicate task for the DFA. And then, later the contract was negotiated to APO, which is supposedly a government-owned and controlled corporation.

But APO does not have the money to buy the needed tools, equipment and machinery. Thus, it admittedly entered into “a joint venture agreement” with a private entity which had 90 percent equity and APO only had 10 percent.

So, the question that is begging to be asked is: Why did the DFA negotiate a contract with APO if the latter is palpably without the wherewithal to do the task? So, DFA committed the proximate blunder or serious incompetence in making such decision.

And why did APO accept a contract when it knew from the beginning that it had neither the competence nor the instruments to deliver the needed results? The inevitable conclusion is that the DFA and APO must have agreed from the start that a sub-contract, disguised as a joint venture, was to be embarked on. For this grand conspiracy involving millions in public funds, some people should be prosecuted and jailed.

If you tell me that the DFA did not know that APO would enter into a sub-contract, embellished as a joint venture, then I would retort: “Tell that to the marines.” I was not born yesterday. The people may be silly or crazy at times. But the Filipinos are not stupid. They know that some wise guys must have made millions out of this sheer shenanigan.


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