By Samuel P. Medenilla, May 16 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Philippine Star

The National Printing Office (NPO), an agency under the Presidential Communications Operations Office, is now in hot water for allegedly violating Commission on Audit’s (COA) rules on the printing of around 61 million voter information sheet (VIS).

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it is now studying the possibility of filing charges against still unnamed officials of NPO after they outsourced the VIS printing to Holy Family Printing Press.

“I just found out about this yesterday [May 14]. This is against COA [rules] and [it] is a crime. They should have told us they cannot print [the VIS] in the first place,” Comelec Commissioner Rowena V. Guanzon told reporters in an interview.

She explained Comelec decided to outsource the VIS printing for the 2019 polls due to lack of time.

“Since they are also from the government, there would no longer be any need for bidding,” Guanzon said.

She said NPO charged them P4 per VIS for the P61 million voters nationwide.

Yet, another possible liability of NPO, Guanzon said, is the wrong information printed in the VIS, which should have served as an election primer for voters.

“When the Comelec en banc learned it [VIS] contained incorrect information, we ordered our election officers not to distribute it,” Guanzon said.

“Some of the assigned numbering to some candidates were wrong. It would have caused chaos [among the voters if distributed],” she added.

The poll official said she is now personally considering filing a complaint against NPO.

In a related development, the Comelec said it may withhold payment to their supplier of secure digital (SD) cards S1 Technologies Inc.

“I would move for the en banc not to pay [S1]. They bid P29 million [for the contract] but they have cost this election a lot than that,” Guanzon said.

This, after the Comelec reported it was able to register about a thousand defective SD cards, which were used in the 2019 polls.

The poll body earlier said it is now considering imposing penalties against S1 for the incident.