Passport printing contractor insists no data breach, only a misunderstanding

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 14) — An official of the government's passport printing contractor is saying an alleged breach concerning the data of passport applicants may just be a misunderstanding that was blown out of proportion.

Michael Dalumpines, chairperson of APO Production Unit, Inc. (APUI) said French company Oberthur Technologies turned over all the printing machines and the data they contain.

APO replaced the French firm, which was the previous contractor that printed e-passports for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Dalumpines admitted initial data turned over by the French contractor had defects — some files could not be accessed or read — but all the data were later retrieved.

"Walang problema eh. Nagkaroon lang ng issue kasi nagpalit ng contractor... Walang leak, walang kaming nakikita... Walang natangay. Mali nga siguro, baka na-misundertood lang si Secretary Locsin," Dalumpines said.

[Translation:There is no problem. There was only an issue because the contractor was replaced... There was no leak, we didn't see any... Nothing was stolen. Maybe Secretary Locsin was misunderstood.]

On Sunday, DFA Secretary Teodoro "Teddy Boy" Locsin Jr. vowed he would expose the culprits behind the alleged breach.

However, Locsin said he will not summon those responsible for the issue, as he will leave the investigation to the Senate and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Dalumpines also clarified the reason behind applicants having to provide birth certificates to renew passports.

He said only those with old green and machine-readable passports are required to present their birth certificate, adding this is because older passports lack the security features of the new e-passports, and a birth certificate provides an extra layer of security to avoid fraud.

"Ang sinasabi lang ng DFA na they would need to submit a birth certificate kasi nga may problema ang green passport kasi walang chip yun, wala rin ang MRP (machine-readable passports) kaya kailangan ang birth certificate," he said.

[Translation: The DFA is saying they need to submit a birth certificate because the green passports have no chips and that's a problem, it's the same with MRPs so a birth certificate is needed.]

Dalumpines also clarified that its subcontractor, United Graphic Expression Corporation (UGEC) does not print passports.

He said UGEC only helps with APO's finances and the acquisition of equipment, which are operated entirely by APO personnel.