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Fire hits printing office as COA flags P121-M transactions

MANILA, Philippines — A fire broke out in the basement of the National Printing Office (NPO) in Diliman, Quezon City, late on Monday, the same day the Commission on Audit (COA) released a report flagging the agency over P121 million worth of allegedly unauthorized transactions last year.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in Quezon City, however, did not seem to suspect foul play as its initial investigation pinned the blame on an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) device that had overheated.

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The NPO is one of three government-recognized printers. It is in charge of a bevy of critical documents, from tax collection forms to the official ballots used in elections.

Chief Insp. Joseph del Mundo, Quezon City BFP chief of operations, said the UPS device had been running longer than it was meant to, causing it to overheat.

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The fire began at 9:10 p.m. and reached the first alarm before it was put out at 10:35 p.m.

Del Mundo said the damage was confined to the UPS device and a nearby printing machine that caught fire, although there was no estimate yet as to the cost. The basement which was under renovation had been mostly empty.

There were still employees, including supervisors and engineers, in the NPO building at the time but no one was injured, Del Mundo said.

He added that fire investigators had not seen any documents among the debris.

A 2018 audit report said on Monday that the NPO had paid private companies P121.69 million for the lease of printing equipment without conducting a public bidding or holding a valid contract. NPO officials have yet to comment on the COA report.

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TAGS: COA, Commission On Audit, National Printing Office, NPO, unauthorized transactions
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