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NPO anomaly

IT seems that the scandals of corruption have not only crept inside the Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Customs, and the Energy Regulatory Board but within the National Printing Office (NPO) as well.

Jennifer Tomas blew the whistle in her admittance that she was merely forced to join the mass resignation of 11 Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) members led by NPO Deputy Director and BAC chairman Sherwin Castañeda.

That they resigned due to the pressure they had to suffer under NPO Director Francisco Vales was totally untrue.

Tomas revealed that she affixed her signature on her resignation letter without knowing its content. Furthermore, Tomas requested Vales that she be returned to her mother unit.

The National Printing Workers Association (Napowa) said Castañeda’s group resigned to avoid the real issue against them – the anomalous awarding of print orders of document forms for the Social Security System (SSS) worth P66 million to three printers, namely Best Forms, Tri-Print Work, and Metro Color Co. in spite of an existing P74-million contract with Western Visayas Printing Corp. (WVPC).

To make things worse, a female worker tore the work order earlier awarded to WVPC allegedly upon the orders of a male employee who was following the instructions of a controversial NPO official.

Apparently, these two were unaware that the WVPC has a received copy of the work order that they would soon show not only to Press Secretary Martin Andanar, but to President Duterte himself.

What they did to the document known throughout the NPO was a clear case of obstruction of justice and a violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which Andanar may soon find out especially now that his office is probing into the matter.

Since there are four security printers for the SSS documents instead of just one, expect the initial budget of P74 million to balloon to P150 million.

We are talking of millions of pesos of the people’s hard-earned money that would be merely taken advantage of in this scam.

The NPO and the APO Production Unit are the two government agencies allowed by law to handle the printing of all accountable and security forms of the country.

A case of plunder was previously filed against former Press Secretary Herminio Coloma due to the alleged P192-million commission for APO’s printing of accountable forms.

I’m sure Andanar would be careful not to suffer the same fate.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.tempo.com.ph/category/opinion/firing-line/ (ROBERT B. ROQUE JR.)