Who will pay the P2.3-B debts of APO? | Inquirer Opinion
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Who will pay the P2.3-B debts of APO?

/ 12:52 AM July 15, 2011

There is a move to merge the National Printing Office (NPO) and the Asian Productivity Commission (APO) which is also engaged in printing. The NPO will be absorbed and the APO will be the surviving entity. The problem is that APO is heavily indebted but not contributing anything to the government coffers. It enjoys fiscal autonomy and is not audited by the Commission on Audit. Recently, it was declared a government-owned and -controlled corporation under the newly enacted GOCC law.

There is now a pending case before the regional trial court of Quezon City questioning the personality of APO being a private entity. In fact, its employees are not members of the Government Service Insurance System but of the Social Security System. They are not covered by the Civil Service Law but by the Labor Code. They are not covered by the Salary Standardization Law, and their salaries are higher than those of employees in the government sector. Members of its board of directors receive a salary of P100,000 a month each, exclusive of allowances.

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Naturally, employees of the NPO are protesting. They are staging a daily 12 noon to 1 p.m. rally to oppose the impending NPO-APO merger and the abolition of the NPO. Who will pay for the P2.3-billion debt of APO after the administration recognizes it as a GOCC? they ask.

The NPO prints the ballots for our elections as well as other government documents. With the merger and the abolition of the NPO, it would be APO, a private corporation, that will print such documents. Wouldn’t it be risky to have such documents printed by a private entity?

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What is clear is that a 110-year-old institution (the former Bureau of Printing) is being abolished in favor of the heavily indebted APO.

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Last July 4, I asked here whether it was wise to reappoint somebody who is facing charges in the Office of the Ombudsman. I was referring to Governor Amado Tetangco of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) who was reappointed by President Aquino in spite of charges pending against him. I received a letter from Juan D. de Zuñiga Jr., deputy governor and general counsel of BSP.

“At the outset, we inform you that as of this time, Governor Tetangco has already received his appointment paper and taken his oath,” De Zuñiga said. “And rightly so, notwithstanding the charges filed against him, since pendency of a case is not a ground to disqualify any public official from reappointment. Until a finding of probable cause by the Ombudsman, there is no basis to consider a possible disqualification from appointment/reappointment. If the rule were otherwise, it would be easy to paralyze government by the mere filing of charges against government officials, although flimsy, malicious, or even fabricated.

“We are likewise not aware of any complaint or charge filed by the Commission on Audit (COA) against the BSP or any of its officials for irregular expenditures. The COA even issued an unqualified audit statement on BSP’s financial condition, which means that its operations are in order.

“The alleged non-remittance of dividends and tax evasion are also unfounded. In fact, BSP was acknowledged by Malacañang as the government agency/entity that remitted the highest dividend this year. BSP has already settled its tax cases with the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

“In addition, BSP has been declared as one of the top taxpayers in Quezon City and the City of Manila.

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“As regards the allegation of ‘irregular hiring of expensive private lawyers,’ BSP is allowed under its charter to retain external counsels, and we state for the record that BSP’s fee agreements with these counsels are reasonable based on the standards of reputable law firms in the country.”

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Another letter from the BSP, this time from Deputy Governor Diwa C. Gunigundo, on the new generation of banknotes: I had written that a couple of persons had approached me and showed me that the ink of the new currency was running off when rubbed on cloth or paper.

This is Gunigundo’s explanation:

“Let me clarify first that: due to the inherent nature of intaglio printing of our banknotes, a minimal ‘ink run-off’ will be observed; otherwise we cannot achieve the embossing of several features in the banknotes like their denominations. Unlike ordinary offset printing, intaglio printing of banknotes requires printing plates to have much deeper engraving and consequently greater ink consumption to attain the acceptable level of print security. A minimal ‘ink run-off’ is, therefore, an inevitable consequence.

“There is nothing extraordinary about ‘ink run-off’ in real notes. Due to surface height of the fibers in the genuine banknote paper, there is greater tactility and expectedly, more ‘ink run-off’. This is in fact one of the tests to determine whether a note is genuine or not.

“I can therefore assure you that what was shown to you was a real note and ‘ink run-off’ is a natural feature of those real notes. A currency comparison which included that of Hong Kong dollar, US dollar, Singapore dollar and the Euro note had been previously conducted by our printer. Every note had ‘ink run-off’. Fake notes will hardly yield any residue when rubbed.

“Secondly, I would also like to point out that there is no problem with the ink used in printing the new Philippine banknotes. The ink used in the BSP notes is the same as that used in the printing of other currencies worldwide which has become the virtual industry standard. Moreover, the BSP note, like the other currencies, passed the laundry test, i.e., soaking them wet and drying them off. There is no fading of the colors in the note.

“We want to assure the public that the bank-notes issued by BSP meet the high quality standards for banknote printing.”

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TAGS: amado tetangco, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, banknotes, featured columns, Government, opinion, printing
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