P388M passport printing funds diverted as travel allowances

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WHAT should have been funds intended to defray the cost of Philippine passport printing seemed to have been used as travel allowance, says Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin.

In a social media post, Locsin admitted that the country’s passport revolving fund has been depleted, even as he hinted on efforts to look for money to replenish the fund.

Locsin added that the DFA now has a standing obligation amounting to P388 million to passport printing contractor APO Production Unit, Inc., a state-run firm.

Malacanang does not seem bothered by the DFA Secretary’s pronouncement. In a press briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace trusts Locsin “can find the funds.”

“I will bring this matter up also to [Budget] Secretary [Wendel] Avisado,” Roque added.

Locsin learned that the fund was apparently “eaten up by travel allowances, insurance and miscellany.”

Interestingly, the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 (Republic Act 8239) does not allow such funds collected from the processing and issuance of passports to be utilized by the DFA for the payment of travel and transportation allowances.

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