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NBI to summon persons to shed light on print jobs

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THE National Bureau of Investigation is set to summon several personalities for the formal investigation on the alleged anomalies at the National Printing Office involving printing jobs for the Social Security System amounting to P74 million.

NBI Deputy Director for Intelligence Vicente de Guzman said they would also order engineer Rolando Calauag, NPO officer-in-charge, to face the investigation. 

In related developments:

• De Guzman said they have started a probe on the printing jobs for the SSS following a request from the Presidential Communications Operations Office. The NPO is PCOO’s attached agency.

• Amid allegation of overpriced travel-booklet, the Department of Foreign Affairs is also eyeing additional congressional budget to augment consular offices and manpower to address backlog of passport processing.

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In an interview, DFA Assistant Secretary Frank Cimafranca said the true reason fort some backlog was not due to the technology that APO-Production Unit had but the lack of offices and manpower.

“The backlog is because of lack of capacity,” Cimafranca said.

Also given summons are former members of NPO-Bids and Awards Committee: lawyer Sherwin Prose Castañeda, Ma. Cristina Morales, Michelle Japson, Benedict Sagun, Amado Valsorable;  

BAC Secretariat members Teres Tobias, Dina Badua, Winon Balmores, Wilma Delansig, Federico Israel Ramos III, Jennifer Tomas and NPO director Francisco Vales.

The investigation was tentatively set on April 3, 2017.

Earlier, de Guzman confirmed they have started an initial investigation on how the P74-million contract was awarded to Best Forms Security Printer, Tri-Print Work and Metro Color Co.

Records show the contract was first awarded to Western Visayas   Printing Corp.

The issue was earlier investigated by PCOO Legal Affairs as directed by Secretary Martin Andanar.

It was learned that Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Enrique Tandan III decided to refer the matter to the proper investigative offices for further investigation and possible filing of criminal complaints.

This prompted members of the Bids and Awards Committee headed by Castañeda to resign.

Malacañang’s investigation revealed there was sufficient basis to believe that criminal and administrative offenses were committed by those involved.

“The investigation uncovered several irregularities and violations of, among others, the Procurement Reform Act [Republic Act 9184] and the Anti-Corrupt Practices Act [RA 3019],” said Tandan.

Reports said the NPO already had a P74-million contract with Western Visayas Printing Corp. but it still granted work orders to three other firms—Best Forms Security Printer for P34 million, Tri-Print Work for P27 million, and Metro Color for P15 million.

Advocacy group Filipino Alliance for Transparency and Empowerment earlier urged the PCOO to verify allegations there were individuals allegedly acting as “collectors” or “middlemen” for NPO printing contracts.

FATE also called on the Commission on Audit to investigate the alleged redundant printing orders.

De Guzman said they would invite all people allegedly involved in these anomalous transactions before making any recommendations for criminal prosecution.

At the DFA, Cimafranca said “We need an executive order or a law. There’s a pending proposal in Congress right now (asking the lawmakers for a budget) to establish a passport office in key provinces and cities.”

In 2015 the DFA consular affairs was plagued by complaints from the public over the mounting backlog and delays in passporting where process took three to four months.

Cimafranca explained the backlog was due to old printer machines at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas  which resulted in power cuts and breakdown.

“These machines are beyond repair. This is a six-year-old system we had since 2009,” he said.

In 2015, he said they would then transfer the printing of passport from BSP to APO-PU, to address the backlog, citing its “high security printing plant.”

Cimafranca then promised the Office of the Consular Affairs would be able to address the backlog by September 2015.

Despite the transfer of contract from BSP to APO-PU, the backlog was never addressed.

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