The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas today assured Vice President and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teofisto Guingona that passports ordered by the Department of Foreign Affairs from the BSP were being delivered way ahead of schedule.
BSP Governor Rafael B. Buenaventura spoke to Guingona this morning to clarify reports quoting Iloilo Representative Augusto Syjuco in Riyadh as blaming the BSP for the inability of the DFA office in the Middle East to renew the travel documents of overseas contract workers who wanted to come back to the Philippines.
Buenaventura said Rep. Syjuco may have been misinformed. In fact, he added, as of March 15, 2002, the BSP had already delivered to the DFA 449,999 passport booklets. This is equivalent to 56% of DFA’s requisition for the entire year; the balance to be completed by BSP in June this year, three months ahead of the September deadline.
Guingona and Buenaventura agreed to create a joint committee to look into the matter since there are claims within the DFA that BSP is not complying with the delivery schedule. The committee will be headed by DFA Undersecretary Merlin Magallona and BSP Deputy Governor Armando Suratos. Guingona and Buenaventura agreed that the issue should be threshed out immediately to ensure that overseas travel and employment of our countrymen will not be hampered by passport shortages.
Buenaventura was at the BSP Security Printing Plant in Quezon City where the passports are being printed when he was asked by newsmen about Syjuco’s statement. In response, he sent for documents tracing DFA’s passport orders. The documents indicated that the DFA may have miscalculated its need for passport booklets for 2002.
In August last year, DFA placed an order with the BSP for 800,000 passports for delivery starting March 2002 and ending on September 2002. However, DFA requested BSP to start deliveries early. This is the reason why BSP started deliveries in November last year. Then in January 2002, DFA Undersecretary Franklin Ebdalin placed an additional order for 1.2 million booklets however delivery on this order will start only in September this year, taking into account BSP need for enough lead time to bid out the special paper which is imported.
Buenaventura reiterated that as far as the original order of 800,000 booklets is concerned, the BSP has not only followed its obligations under a signed contract with the DFA but actually has been delivering passport booklets way ahead of schedule.