NPO head sees malice in filing of graft raps on ballot printing deal
MANILA, Philippines — The new head of the National Printing Office (NPO) has decried graft and other complaints filed against him and other officials over a ballot printing deal, saying these are malicious because the agency adheres with procurement laws.
In a statement on Thursday, NPO Director IV Carlos Bathan said that the accusations against him and other agency officials have no basis because NPO follows rules stated by Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act, like competitive bidding.
Task Force Kasanag-International (TFK), an anti-corruption group, recently filed complaints against Bathan and three other officials over claims that they favored the Holy Family Printing Corporation, which was tasked to print out ballots for the May 2022 national elections.
“It is unfortunate that NPO is now under attack from the people who resist reforms. We are now being maligned by people who have malicious intentions and who want to maintain the old ways of defrauding the government through questionable schemes,” Bathan said.
“We are now strictly implementing reforms that will benefit NPO such as conducting open and competitive biddings according to the provisions of RA 9184,” he added.
According to TFK, NPO refunded the government’s P197 million income from a deal with Holy Family Printing Corporation, in favor of the same company — alleging that aside from the 83 percent of the income that was meant to go to Holy Family Printing Corporation, NPO authorized the release of the 16 percent back to the company.
However, Bathan noted that he was not a part of the procurement and payment procedures, having been appointed to the office only this September.
“Ako ay naupo sa aking puwesto nung ika-2 ng Setyembre sa taong ito, apat na buwan matapos ang eleksyon […] Ibig sabihin, ang procurement, pagproseso at pagbayad sa Holy Family Printing Corporation ay nangyari sa labas ng aking liderato. Inabutan ko lamang ito at walang pinipirmahan na kahit anuman,” he said.
(I was appointed to the post on September 2, four months after the elections. This means that the procurement, processing, and payment to the Holy Family Printing Corporation happened outside of my leadership. The issue landed on my tenure but I did not sign any paper involving that transaction.)
The complaints centered on the ballots used for the last May 2022 national elections. It could be remembered that printing of the ballots hit a slight delay because the Supreme Court ordered the inclusion of two candidates initially declared as nuisance candidates.
READ: SC order delays ballot printing
Bathan maintained that under his leadership, they have observed adherence to the right procurement processes — claiming that the stories and complaints are mere speculations.
“Mahigpit na nagpapatupad ng pagbabago ang NPO sa ilalim ng aking pamamalakad upang maiwasan ang korapsiyon sa pamamagitan ng mahigpit na pagsunod ng aming ahensiya sa batas ukol sa tamang bidding,” he said.
(We are strictly implementing changes within NPO under my leadership, so that we can rid the agency of corruption by adhering to the laws regarding correct bidding procedures.)
“Malinaw na gawa-gawa ang istorya at may malisya ang mga paratang sa amin ng mga taong ayaw ng kaayusan at reporma na ipinapatupad sa loob ng NPO mula nang ako ay itinalaga sa puwesto,” Bathan added.
(It is clear that the stories mentioned are all made up, and there is malice in the accusations made by people who do not want reforms implemented within NPO since I was assigned to this post.)
INQUIRER.net tried to get the side of the TFK regarding the issue but no reply as of posting time.
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