House probe sought on passport problems
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate has sought a congressional inquiry by the House of Representatives’ good government committee into the problems hounding the Department of Foreign Affairs’ passport processing system.
In filing House Resolution No. 1608, Zarate cited the months-long backlog in the availability of appointments through the online booking website, as well as allegations about the presence of a “syndicate” that sold such pre-registrations at exorbitant prices.
He said the slow processing of passports may “just be a tip of the iceberg” amid reports of anomalies in the DFA’s printing contracts.
Zarate recalled that then-Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. wrote a July 12, 2016 letter questioning the propriety of the government printer APO Production Unit Inc.’s contract with the United Graphic Expression Corporation.
APO supposedly entered into a joint venture agreement with the private printer without the DFA’s express approval. Zarate said Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Jan. 25, 2017 supposedly issued a legal opinion declaring the contract questionable.
Zarate claimed that while APO and DFA rescinded the agreement with UGEC and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas agreed to resume printing services after a transition period of three to six months, the joint venture still continued producing the passports.
“There is a need for Congress to investigate this slow processing of passports and the reported anomaly in printing of passports since so many Filipino people especially the OFWs are affected by this disservice,” he said in his resolution.
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