Del Rosario: Let public judge DFA data breach
Former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario over the weekend said he would let the public be the judge after Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. blamed the administrations of former Presidents Benigno Aquino III and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the passport data breach at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
He was referring to Locsin’s disclosure on social media that the previous contractor for the passports had “made off” with the data of passport holders, forcing the DFA to require holders of nonelectronic passports to submit their birth certificates as proof of identity when they renew their passports.
Locsin said this was “because previous contractor got pissed when terminated it made off with data.”
“We did nothing about it or couldn’t because we were in the wrong. It won’t happen again. Passports pose national security issues and cannot be kept back by private entities. Data belongs to the state,” he said on Twitter.
Blaming the ‘yellow crowd’
Locsin said the problem “started under GMA (Arroyo)’s DFA and got worse under PNoy (Aquino)’s DFA.”
“It will be solved by PRRD (President Duterte)’s DFA under [Locsin]. The yellow crowd who perpetrated the passport fraud are in a panic because we are gonna autopsy their crooked deal. Period,” he said.
But Del Rosario refused to be drawn into an argument with the incumbent secretary.
In a statement, he expressed confidence that Locsin “will be successful in correcting the current passport problems to the total satisfaction of all our people.”
Former Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., in a post on Facebook, gave a background on the passport fiasco.
He said that on Aug. 1, 2006, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the DFA entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the production of MREPs (machine readable electronic passports) in compliance with the standards required by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
In the implementation of its obligations under the MOA, the BSP awarded through bidding the main part of the project to Francois-Charles Oberthur Fiduciaire of France through its Philippine office in Makati, Yasay said.
But on Oct. 5, 2015, the DFA awarded the production of a new e-passport system to APO Production Unit Inc. (APUI), a government printer “without bidding on condition that no part of the contract can be subcontracted or assigned to a private printer,” Yasay said.
“[In] violation of this condition, APUI engaged the services of the United Graphic Expression Corp. for the production of the new e-passports,” Yasay said.
Vice President Leni Robredo has expressed alarm that the passport printing contractor “took all the data” of applicants, calling the development “very disturbing and frightening.”
Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said the DFA should retrieve all the data taken by its former passport manufacturer and hold those behind the incident accountable.