By Recto Mercene, Businessmirror, Apr 3, 2017
A FEDERATION of labor unions is poised to file graft charges against ranking officials of a state-owned printing company and its private partner for allegedly entering into a partnership agreement with a private corporation without legal authority and squandering billions of pesos on an outsourcing scheme grossly disadvantageous to the government.
The Philippine Association of Free Labor Unions (Paflu) said in a statement key executives of the APO-Productivity Unit (APO-PU) “should be held accountable for unlawfully engaging the services of privately owned United Graphics Expression Inc. [Ugec] for the printing of the so-called e-passports for the Department of Foreign Affairs [DFA]”.
Paflu president Eleuterio Tuazon said there is reason to believe “spurious partnership between the APO-PU and the Ugec was forged in collusion of certain Malacañang officials during the Aquino administration, hence, they should also be cited as co-respondents in the graft cases”.
Tuazon invoked a finding by Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo who said the joint venture agreement (JVA) between APO-PU and Ugec signed on November 14, 2014, was illegal and, therefore, null and void right from the start.
“Clearly, this JVA had no basis whatsoever, because at the time of its signing, the DFA has not yet appointed APO-PU as the government’s official printer of the passports. That appointment eventually came of October 5, 2015, when the DFA and APO-PU concluded a memorandum of agreement [MOA] on the e-passport project,” Tuazon added.
“Put another way, APO-PU had anticipated Malacañang’s decision to decommission the Bangko Sentral and transfer the passport- printing services to the APO-PU, which turned out to have no capability to deliver its contractual obligations under the 2015 MOA,” Tuazon also said.
Panelo said the MOA mandates APO-PU to use its own facilities, equipment and machinery in printing the passports for the DFA. “APO is prohibited from directly or indirectly engaging private contractors to undertake the [passport] project, and may only implement the infrastructure project in-house, by job order, or through the pakyaw contracting system.”
He indicated that APO-PU could be held liable for violating pertinent rules and regulations, as well as Republic Act 9184, the Antigraft and Corrupt Practices Act, “for subcontracting the printing of passports to Ugec.”
“Such subcontracting arrangement or assignment may subject the APO and UGEC officials who were responsible for the same to criminal and administrative liabilities pursuant to RAs 9184 and 3019, the Administrative Code of 1987, and other applicable procurement and criminal laws,” Panelo said.