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NBI asks Ombudsman to file raps vs NPO officials over P74-M printing ‘scam’

MANILA, July 23 — The National Bureau of Investigation has asked the Office of the Ombudsman to file graft charges against current and former National Printing Office officials over an allegedly anomalous PHP74-million printing deal with three private companies.

In a seven-page transmittal letter, the NBI said NPO Director Sherwin Prose Castaneda, former officer-in-charge Rolando Caluag, and retired employee Ruben Dancel violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or Republic Act 3019.

Also recommended for prosecution were Western Visayas Printing Corp. vice president Edwin Malapajo; Bestforms Inc. president Benjamin Yam, Triprint Corp. president Ramil Tamayo and Metrocolor Corp. general manager Celso Viray.

The case stemmed from the multi-million contract awarded by the Social Security System to the NPO for the bulk purchase of 870,000 pads of Contributions Payment Form for fiscal year 2016.

A preliminary investigation by NBI’s Anti-Fraud Division found that even though the NPO had already awarded the printing contract to Western Visayas Printing Corp. (WVPC), work orders were nevertheless granted to three other firms — Best Forms Security Printer for PHP34 million, Tri-Print Work for PHP27 million, and Metro Color for PHP15 million.

The NBI said the agreements entered into by the respondents was disadvantageous to the government given that the printing machines were not under the control of the NPO. The paper, ink, and other consumables used for the printers also came from the same firms without proper public bidding.

“This is contrary to a proper contact of lease, where the NPO is supposed to simply rent the printing machines and use for its printing jobs. This printing machine, owing to the security nature of the printing jobs, should also be within the control of the NPO, and operated by its personnel,” the NBI reported.

“The NPO only occasionally sends a representative to the lessor-printers plant who inspects the machine. This is precisely why during our interview with NPO personnel, they cannot assure us that the printing by private printers are strictly controlled and there can be no possibility of over printing.”

Furthermore, investigators found that the NPO only had a “highly disadvantageous” 15 percent share of the profits from the deal, while 85 percent went to the private firms.

“This is clearly disadvantageous to the government and punishable under Republic Act No. 3019,” the NBI said in the complaint.

“While the NPO was paid PHP2.5 million for the project, the NPO had to pay the rental fee to the lessor printer in the amount of PHP2.1 million which is more or less equivalent to 85 percent of the printing project. This is clearly disadvantageous to the government and punishable under RA 3019 also known as Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.”

The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) requested the NBI look into the NPO deal after a PCOO investigation uncovered alleged violations of the Government Procurement Reform Act and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The National Printing Office is an attached agency of the PCOO.

The PCOO initiated a probe on the alleged anomaly late last year. (Christopher Lloyd T. Caliwan/PNA)

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