DFA to get to bottom of passport data mess

MANILA -- The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has vowed to address its passport data loss after a previously outsourced printer allegedly took off with passport holders' documents when its contract was terminated.

"I just want it fixed and not repeated. Redundancy of data was promised by previous contractor but not fulfilled or just denied to us. We have no knowledge whatsoever if it has been corrected," Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a tweet on Saturday night.

Locsin, in a Twitter exchange Wednesday, revealed that the previous contractor has made inaccessible the data it was entrusted to after its printing contract was terminated.

Before the contract for the production of Philippine electronic passports was awarded to the APO Production Unit Inc. (APUI), the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), through a French firm, had been printing passport booklets.

Following data privacy concerns raised by the public, the National Privacy Commission (NPC) said it will conduct an independent investigation to determine the facts surrounding the case.

"Any form of non-availability of personal data, infringement of the rights of data subjects, and harms from processing that include inconveniencing the public, must be adequately explained to the satisfaction of the law," Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro said in a text message over the weekend.

"Rest assured the NPC will continue to champion the rights of Filipino data subjects," he said, adding that the commission will summon representatives from DFA and concerned agencies, including the alleged contractor.

Meanwhile, Locsin hinted that the "crooked" passport deal in the past is to be blamed to the entire passport mess inherited by the current administration.

"The problem started under GMA's (former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) DFA and got worse under PNoy's (former president Benigno Aquino III) DFA. It will be solved by President Rodrigo Duterte's DFA under Locsin," he said.

"The yellow crowd who perpetrated the passport fraud are in panic because we are going to autopsy their crooked deal," he added.

In August 2006, the BSP entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with DFA for the production of machine-readable electronic passports (MREPs).

The central bank awarded through bidding the main part of the project to French company Francois-Charles Oberthur Fiduciare.(PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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