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Passport mess must be resolved Asap

/ 05:03 AM January 15, 2019

The biggest question in the latest controversy hounding the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is how the Aquino administration maneuvered to replace the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) as the printer of the Philippine passport.

In 2006, during the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, DFA and BSP hired FCOF of France to print machine-readable passports.

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In July 20, 2015, PNoy attended the live demonstration of the new e-passport system inside a high-security plant operated by government-owned company Apo Production Unit Inc. (APUI) in Malvar, Batangas.

But months before the live demonstration or on Nov. 14, 2014, APUI and United Graphic Expression Corp. (Ugec) signed a joint venture agreement to print e-passports even without the approval of then Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario.

It was only months after the live demo or on Oct. 15, 2015 that a memorandum of agreement (without the benefit of a public bidding) was signed between Del Rosario and APUI-Ugec. Del Rosario claimed the BSP had informed DFA that it no longer wished to print passports. He added that there was nothing irregular in transferring the responsibility to APUI-Ugec.

But the present administration thinks otherwise as it insists that the printing of government security papers should be done only by government-owned and controlled facilities, and not subcontracted to private companies such as Ugec.

Right now, the integrity of our government documents, including paper currencies, documentary stamps, torrens titles and other security documents, has become suspect.

This issue must be cleared up ASAP.

* * *

It’s great news that there are still no election hotspots in Metro Manila months to go before the midterm elections.

Political rivalries are very intense but many people believe these will not lead to physical violence.

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But I think the cities of Manila, San Juan, Malabon and Makati should be closely watched.

In many areas, candidates are beginning to show their clout as “election budgets” start to overflow.

Political organizations are now hard at work, lobbying to get the support of the Iglesia ni Kristo for their respective candidates.

But for incumbent mayors in Quezon City, Pasay City, Caloocan City, Pasig City, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Navotas, Muntinlupa and Mandaluyong, it’s all over but the shouting even with weeks to go before the polls.

* * *

Metro Manila’s horse racing circles are abuzz over Metro Manila Turf Club’s decision to suspend two superstar jockeys for their “suspicious” performances on Jan. 2.

Banned from the Malvar, Batangas racetrack for three months were jockeys Fernando “Dunoy” Raquel Jr. for the loss of Wooloomolo, owned by businessman Bing Tecson, and leading jockey JB Hernandez for the defeat of mega-outstanding favorite Garantisado, owned by Pasay Mayor Antonio Calixto.

The bold decision against all forms of irregularities is necessary to protect the integrity of the horse racing industry.

* * *

Who is this senatorial candidate who made 100 special kids suffer when he arrived very late in San Pablo City for the Mardi Gras Festival?

A teacher and six other kids were admitted to the hospital as a result, according to the children’s parents who were ranting on social media.

For comments and suggestions, please e-mail [email protected]

See the bigger picture with the Inquirer's live in-depth coverage of the election here https://inq.ph/Election2019

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TAGS: 2019 elections, Benigno Aquino III, Department of Foreign Affairs, DFA, election hotpsots, Fernando “Dunoy” Raquel Jr., Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Jake J. Maderazo, JB Hernandez, Noynoy Aquino, passport data loss, Sharp Edges
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