The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday said there is “nothing irregular” in the bidding of the electronic passport, or ePassport, saying everything is “aboveboard.”
DFA spokesman Charles Jose, however, declined to provide The Manila Times a copy of the ePassport contract with APO Production Unit Inc. or APO, saying “there’s confidentiality clause in the contract that prevents us from disclosing its contents.”
APO is a government-owned and -controlled corporation (GOCC) and printing office.
It is one of three recognized government printers that may handle the printing of accountable forms and sensitive high quality/volume printing needs of government agencies and offices.
The two others are the National Printing Office and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas security printing plant.
Of the three, only APO joined the bidding for the ePassport.
Printing of the ePassport is seen as a huge business.
An e-passport costs P950.
With 17,000 e-passport applications a day, APO nets about P2.8 billion or P28 billion for a 10-year contract.
Reports said the actual cost of printing an ePassport will not exceed P500.
But Jose said inflation and some other factors should be considered in printing expenses.
“Of course, there are other costs, but let’s see from Congress how the hearing will go on,” said Jose, who will assume the post in Kuala Lumpur as ambassador effective mid-April.
APO did not pass the bidding process and took the project via negotiated bidding.
The APO labor union–Asian Productivity Employees Association (APEA)– has filed plunder and graft complaints against former officials under the Aquino administration. JIM PILAPIL