Philippines – APO-PU Erred in e-Passport Subcontract–Palace Official

By | April 2, 2017

MALACAÑANG has strongly hinted that state-run APO-Productivity Unit Inc. (APO-PU) may have committed grave abuse of discretion and could be held criminally and administratively liable for engaging the services of a privately owned printing company for the implementation of the e-passport project of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Short of recommending the immediate repeal of the existing contract between APO-PU and the United Graphic Expression Corp. (Ugec), Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo said APO “should refrain from engaging, subcontracting or assigning the printing of passports to private entities, including Ugec.”

In his legal opinion executed on the e-passport controversy, Panelo said if abrogation of the joint-venture agreement (JVA) between APO-PU and Ugec would render APO-PU incapable of performing its contractual obligations under a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the DFA, the DFA “may then have sufficient basis to terminate the same in accordance with its terms and conditions”.

Panelo junked the APO-Ugec JVA as invalid or “void for being ultra vires”, meaning it is “an act committed by an entity beyond the powers conferred upon it by law”.

 The Palace official pointed out that under the MOA forged between APO and the DFA on October 5, 2015, APO is “required by law and regulations to use its own facilities, equipment and machinery in printing the passports for the DFA.”

Curiously, the JVA was executed by APO and Ugec on November 14, 2014, indicating that the government-owned printing facility had already anticipated the e-passport contract almost one year ahead of the formal signing of the MOA with the DFA.

Prior to the execution of the MOA, printing of passports was handled by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The DFA reportedly vetted APO, a corporation attached to the Presidential Communications Operations Office, then headed by Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr., as an authorized supplier-service provider for the production and printing of “accountable forms and sensitive high quality-volume” documents, including passports and tax stamps.

It turned out, however, that APO-PU did not have the technical capability or the state-of-the-art equipment to perform its contractual obligations to the DFA, hence, it hired the services of Ugec.

Panelo clarified that the outsourcing scheme by APO-PU resulted in a breach of a resolution by the Government Procurement Policy Board, as well as pertinent General Appropriations Act and Republic Act (RA) 9184 prescribing the rules on public bidding.

Source: Business Mirror