Locsin now says no runaway of passport data

Paterno Esmaquel II
This comes a week after Foreign Secretary Teodoro 'Teddyboy' Locsin Jr said a former government contractor 'took all' passport data

TOP DIPLOMAT. In this file photo, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr faces the Commission on Appointments on November 28, 2018. File photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Days after saying a previous contractor “took all” passport data when its contract was terminated, Foreign Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr on Tuesday, January 15, said there is no runaway of passport data after all.

“Data is not run-away-able but made inaccessible. Access denied,” Locsin said in a tweet Tuesday morning. 


 

Locsin had said in a tweet on January 8 that the “previous outsourced passport maker took all the data” when their contract was terminated. He said this contractor “made off with data” because it “got pissed.”


 

Locsin on January 8 did not name this former government contractor, but former foreign secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr said Locsin was referring to Francois-Charles Oberthur Fiduciaire, or Oberthur.

On Tuesday, however, Locsin said that APO Production Unit Inc (APUI), the government contractor that took over from Oberthur, assured him that “they were able to access” the data, “but not much use and parts corrupted.”

“It was hostile but APO told me yesterday they found a way into Oberthur’s system but the data was not all that important and parts of it corrupted. APO didn’t seem fazed by that and added sub rosa that birth certificate is a useless requirement that DFA made up and can remove,” he added.


 

Yasay: Locsin ‘misinformed’

The reported loss of passport data, which came from Locsin himself, ignited a firestorm in a country still reeling from a data leak that involved 70 million voters’ records in 2016.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said this is a “serious and grave matter,” while Vice President Leni Robredo and senators called for an investigation into the passport data mess. 

Yasay said on Monday, January 14, that Locsin “was misinformed” about the supposed passport data loss. The former foreign secretary said it “is completely false and malicious” to say that Oberthur “ran away with the data.” 

APUI chairman Michael Dalumpines also said on Tuesday that there may have been “just a bit of a misunderstanding” on the part of Locsin. 

“Passport data are with us,” Dalumpines told Rappler, adding that officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs “have full access” to passport data – from the old green passports, to the machine-readable ones, to the current e-passports.

He also said that Oberthur turned over to APUI their equipment for making passports, and the former contractor took no data with them.

“From what I gathered, all data were all in those equipment turned over to us by Bangko Sentral. Hence, no data lost,” Dalumpines said. – Rappler.com

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.