Yasay: No data stolen; Locsin ‘misinformed’ about passport data breach
MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin Jr. could have been “misinformed” about the data breach issue in the agency as there was no data stolen by a previous contractor, a former Foreign Affairs chief said Monday.
Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said that the previous contractor, Francois-Charles Oberthur Fiduciare of France or “Oberthur,” could not have run away with the data.
He explained that when the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) awarded the production of a new electronic passport system to APO Production Unit Inc. (APUI) which subcontracted to a United Graphic Expression Corporation (UGEC), Oberthur simply “withdrew” as it already finished its contract.
“When APO and UGEC came in, Oberthur withdrew. After all it was just assisting the government in the management of the operating system for free, the Oberthur already completed its contract,” Yasay said in an interview over ABS CBN News Channel.
“To say now that Oberthur ran away with the data is completely false,” he added.
Yasay said that Locsin might have been “misinformed” by “certain officials” of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) about the issue to “deflect the real issue of the passport mess.”
“The explanation that certain officials told him was that because the previous contractor in the preparation of the personalized system ran away with that system with the data,” Yasay said.
“So it was to my mind on that score that Secretary Locsin was misinformed,” he added.
Yasay surmised that the “certain officials” of the DFA told Locsin that the Oberthur ran away with the data because they wanted to cover up the agency’s law violation.
“The only compelling reason I could see is because they wanted to deflect the real issue of the passport mess, which is awarding the production of the passport from an end-to-end basis to APO (APUI) without any bidding and APO in turn subcontracted to a private firm known as UGEC in violation with the law,” he said.
He earlier explained that APO, which is a government printing facility, was awarded a contract without bidding on condition that no part of the contract can be subcontracted or assigned to a private printer.
Yasay said that when the APO and UGEC took over the passport production, the data, which was initially in the facility of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), was moved to a facility in Lipa, Batangas.
The former Foreign Affairs secretary then surmised that the data just could not be accessed by the DFA because of the new system by UGEC and APO.
“The system that was created by Oberthur is a system that they put up that UGEC cannot transfer to the new system for one reason or another, they had technological incapacity to transfer that information from the old system to the new system of UGEC and APO,” he said.
Yasay then reiterated that it is “preposterous and malicious and completely false” to say that data was stolen by the previous contractor.
“My only point here is that it is preposterous and malicious and completely false for the DFA or anyone else to say that Oberthur ran away with the data because they could not run away with it,” he said.
The whole issue sparked when the DFA required holders of “older” or non-electronic passports for renewal to submit their birth certificates because it had allegedly lost the data to a previous contractor. /je
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