Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano vowed to order a review of the contract entered into by the Department of Foreign Affairs and APO Production, Inc. over the manufacture of Philippine electronic-passports to determine its legality.
“One of my concerns will be if the contract is found to be invalid,” said Secretary Cayetano in a press briefing Monday. “I will not allow people to suffer because there is something wrong with the contract. How I’ll be able to do that, give me a little more time. When I get back I’m ordering a review.”
According to the foreign affairs chief, he has yet to see the documents but he said he plans to discuss the issue with some Cabinet members.
“I’m a lawyer but I also don’t want to preempt the legal department of the DFA with my own opinion,” said Cayetano. “So I’d like the legal to have its own opinion then to see it.”
Criticisms that the agreement between the DFA and APO is dubious have surfaced recently, especially after the latter entered into a joint venture with a private entity to undertake the printing of passports.
Questions about possible overpricing of passport processing fee also began to surface after industry experts revealed that the cost of producing one passport booklet is around P200 while the microchip needed for the security features is worth another P100. Around P100 is also needed for the ink and the thread used for binding the booklet, for a total P500 cost per e-passport.
The new biometric Philippine passport costs P950, this means the manufacturer earns roughly P550 for each e-passport.
And since the DFA receives around 17,000 passport applications per day, in one year alone that means the manufacturer nets something like P2.8 billion. Being a 10-year contract, APO stands to make an estimated P28 billion.
Source: Manila Bulletin