Gold old days | Inquirer Business

Gold old days

THINGS never change at the National Printing Office, or the NPO, the government agency in charge of the printing of official forms.

From what we hear, the same monkey business still happens at the NPO, possibly with the guidance from somebody high up in the Palace, said to be one of the trusted communications men.

To think, the focus of the Aquino (Part II) administration seems to be to run after the former cute administration of Gloriaetta for alleged graft and corruption. This seems to be the sole preoccupation of our leader, Benigno Simeon (a.k.a. BS). Where does he want to take us—this whole country? He wants to take Gloriaetta and her family to jail.


Perhaps, too busy in his mission to weed out corruption in the past, which of course hardly matters to us today, BS forgets to check on his own people.


At the NPO, according to LGUs that were being forced to order all their printing forms from the NPO, the “going rate” has gone up, in effect raising the costs of printing jobs for LGUs, particularly the cities in Metro Manila.

Now, the NPO does not have a working printing plant. It merely subcontracts the orders from LGUs and other government offices to private printing companies. Somewhere along the way, miracles happen. The price of printing forms triple, even quadruple.


As we all know, NPO became a monopoly, cornering all printing jobs of the government, starting in 1987 during the time of the Aquino (Part I) administration. Then came the so-called Government Procurement Reform Act, or RA 9184, which reportedly was forced upon us by the World Bank, precisely to plug the leakage in government procurement, what those LGUs have been complaining against the NPO.

Thus, the former administration of Gloriaetta took away the NPO monopoly, requiring the NPO to compete with private printers.

That single act of Gloriaetta, an attempt to stop corruption at the NPO, generated a flurry of court cases, all for the sake of keeping the NPO monopoly, which nevertheless were eventually resolved against the NPO.

Last year, as a way to preserve the “good old days” at the gold mine called NPO, somebody inserted in the General Appropriations Act—the 2010 budget—a provision that required government forms to be obtained through the NPO. Take note, the operative word was “through,” meaning, the NPO did not have the capability to do the job.

That perhaps gave the syndicate at the NPO an opening. All of a sudden, the Government Procurement Policy Board, or the GPPB, which should enforce the procurement law RA 9184, came out with a resolution requiring that all printing needs of the government be coursed through the NPO. Again, the term was “coursed through.”

Horror of horrors—the GPPB resolution included all the forms of the LGUs.

Now, the basis for the GPPB resolution was the law spelling out the 2010 budget. The last time I checked, the appropriations act covered only the national government. LGUs used to be a different kind of animal.

Besides, the basis was the 2010 budget. Let me see, perhaps we traveled back in time. What year are we today, boss?

Anyway, all of a sudden, after enjoying huge savings in their printing contracts with private companies during the time of the cute administration of Gloriaetta, the LGUs were required to go through the NPO again under the Aquino (Part II) administration.

Somebody in the Palace must be laughing all the way to the bank.

But here is the thing: The World Bank is bound to discover such a blatant attempt to go around the procurement law, which the World Bank actually forced upon us, in exchange for loans and grants.

I wonder what the World Bank will do. Oh no, not withhold future loans of the government, please!

* * *

IN that case implicating Joel Reyes, the former governor of Palawan, in the murder of radioman and environmentalist Gerry Ortega, a new angle has reached feisty Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

Reyes has asked De Lima to look into reports that politicians and big-time businessmen were trying to influence the outcome of the case.

Reports said that a certain Perival Lecias, one of those picked up by the NBI for questioning, recently executed an affidavit that Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn and business mogul Jose “Pepito” Alvarez talked to him while he was in NBI custody, and they also gave him money.

Lecias supposedly got the gun used in the murder. In his affidavit, he said that he was merely used in the murder case.

Now, on February 28, according to Lecias, Hagedorn and Alvarez came to the NBI headquarters in Manila and talked to him. He said Hagedorn gave him money.

Question: Why were Hagedorn and Alvarez so interested in the case that they had to go to the NBI office, in person, to hand out money to a suspect?

Now, the principal suspect in the murder case is a certain Rodolfo Edrad Jr., alias Junjun Bumar, who is the alleged gunman. Reports said he had claimed that he was offered P25 million to change his testimony implicating the former Palawan governor.

From what I gathered, five lawyers from a big law firm now represent Edrad. Are they doing pro bono work for the principal suspect? They have never been known in the legal profession to do that.

As always, the justice secretary has some mysteries to solve in this case, particularly because Lecias supplied names (i.e. Hagedorn and Alvarez) and all those sordid details in his accusation of bribery against the NBI.

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TAGS: Crime and Law and Justice, Government, Graft & Corruption, Judiciary (system of justice), Printing

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