By: Gil Cabacungan – @inquirerdotnetPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 05:55 AM November 26, 2016
Eleven officials of the National Printing Office (NPO) resigned en masse to protest the alleged “pressure” exerted by their boss, Francisco V. Vales Jr., to favor a private printer, Topbest.
In a phone interview, Sherwin Prose C. Castañeda, chair of the NPO bid and awards committee, said they were forced to quit after Vales, a protege of President Duterte, pushed the BAC to renew the P50-million lease contract of his handpicked printer without conducting a public bidding.
“He (Vales) is always asking us why we canceled the contract. He wants us to renew the contract but it should not be since contracts should go through public bidding and there should be no one favored on who would get the contract,” Castañeda said.
He claimed that Vales had entered into lease contracts with 12 printers worth P50 million each or a total of P600 million.
“When we (BAC members) assumed last September, we made reforms particularly to ensure that we will only conduct a bidding if we have a budget. We reduced the contracts to P20 million because that is only what our funds can support,” Castañeda said.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said he has instructed Undersecretary Enrique Tandan, officer in charge of the legal affairs of the Good Governance and GOCCS, to look into charges that Vales was pressuring the BAC to pick Topbest.
NPO is an attached agency of Andanar’s office, the Presidential Communication Operation Office.
Too much pressure
In their letter to Vales, Castañeda said: “This resignation is prompted by ‘too much’ pressure in the bidding of leasing of printing machines. Your instruction to renew the contract of Topbest for the leasing of machine runs contrary to the essence of public bidding under Republic Act No. 9184. We bid machines according to the Procurement Law not knowing in advance whoever wins in the bidding,” Castañeda said.
Castañeda said the NPO had “full faith and confidence” in the promised reforms especially since Vales was a “former employee of Davao City where the President served as a mayor for more than two decades.”
“However, the pressure you are exerting on the BAC is simply not acceptable,” Castañeda told Vales. He said Vales should stop pressuring the BAC.
The eleven career NPO executives sent their resignation letters last Nov. 21. Aside from, Castañeda, the NPO members who resigned were NPO-BAC members Ma. Cristina M. Morales, Michelle F. Japson, Benedict Sagun and Amado Valsorable; BAC Secretariat members Teres R. Tobias (head), Dina M. Badua, Winon V. Balmores, Wilma Delansig, Federico Israel D.G. Ramos III, and Jennifer Tomas.
Castañeda said Vales had not accepted their mass resignation because he would have more problems forming a new BAC because nobody wanted to sit as member with him always pressuring them to do his will.
Vales wrote to Andanar the next day and stated that “the resignation with all its signatories and reason stated be included as subject of the investigation.”
Vales himself has pushed for a probe of Castañeda who was accused of maneuvering print orders worth P66 million for the Social Security System (SSS) which were awarded to three printers: Best Forms, Tri-Print Work and Metro Color Co.
But Castañeda said he did not have a hand in the assignment of the contracts awarded to the private printers considering that these were not subject to bidding by the BAC.
“At the time I assumed as chair of BAC last Sept. 6, the work for SSS has already been assigned by our Production Planning and Control Division (PPCD) to the three private printers. The assignment of jobs to private printers is done by PPCD,” Castañeda said.
NPO is one of three recognized printers of government forms, the other two are Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and APO Production Unit.