Overpricing of gov't papers thing of the past, says Dureza
Manila (17 November) -- The overpricing in the printing of ballots and other official papers is now a thing of the past after Press Seretary Jesus G. Dureza ordered a thorough "clean up" of the National Printing Office (NPO) upon the instruction of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Less than two months after he assumed his post as press secretary in mid-June this year, Dureza reported to the President the result of the investigation he ordered on the goings-on in the NPO which he described as "notoriously known as a hotbed of corruption."
In his memorandum to the President which he coursed though Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Dureza said that when he "assumed office on 16 June 2008, and mindful of your instruction that I should clean up the mess in that office, I started reviewing the internal workings of the agency to institute reforms."
"I was shocked to know, at the start of my work, that I was immediately confronted with a brazen attempt by some group to push for a highly excessive, overpriced and anomalous contract in the printing of ARMM Ballots for the 11 August elections," he added.
He said that following his investigation, he ordered the reduction of the printing cost of the ballot from P27.18 to P4.50 apiece.
His "timely and decisive intervention" saved the government about P30 million, Dureza told the President.
Dureza described the foiled transaction as a "whopping… anomalous overprice."
"The COMELEC (Commission on Election), pleasantly surprised perhaps at the quick and unprecedented action we did in preventing the overprice, wrote me a letter 'extending (its) deep appreciation," Dureza said.
At the same time, the Press Secretary also ordered the "leveling of the playing field to allow firms to participate in the NPO printing so we could dismantle the 'syndicate' that controlled and cornered juicy contracts for a long time."
The next target of Dureza's cleanup drive at the NPO is the APO Production Unit, a printing press along EDSA in Diliman, Quezon City which was placed under the oversight of the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) in 2000.
In a letter, Dureza informed APO officials of his "desire that the Board of Trustees of the APO Production Unit initiate moves as soon as possible that would enable that office to submit itself to the auditorial authority of COA (Commission on Audit) on a regular basis."
"It is my desire that the Board of Trustees consider reviewing the rates of remuneration, per diems, allowances, and honoraria provided to its members and officers, with the end in view of aligning these with the rates prescribed by the Department of Budget and Management for Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations," Dureza told APO officials. (PIA-MMIO) [top]