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Locsin says ‘pissed’ contractor ‘took all’ passport data

MANILA – Filipinos renewing their passport may have to present their birth certificates as an additional requirement after a passport production contractor the government had terminated “made off with data,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs needs to “rebuild” its database and files “from scratch because previous outsourced passport maker took all the data when contract terminated,” Locsin said in a tweet on Jan. 9

The DFA disclosed the data loss after a netizen asked Locsin about the need to present his birth certificate to renew his travel document.

“Applicants renewing brown or green passports or maroon machine-readable passports are required to submit birth certificates because we need to capture and store the document in our database as we no longer have the physical copy of the document submitted when they first applied,” DFA Assistant Secretary Elmer Cato said in a tweet.

“Because previous contractor got pissed when terminated it made off with data,” Locsin added in a separate post.

The DFA chief said the agency “did nothing about it or couldn’t because we were in the wrong.” 

He did not elaborate. 

“It won’t happen again. Passports pose national security issues and cannot be kept back by private entities. Data belongs to the state,” Locsin said without giving further details about what prompted the passport maker to run off with the data.

The top diplomat did not name the firm. 

ABS-CBN News reached out to Cato for comment Saturday on possible repercussions of the incident but he has yet to respond as of this posting. 

Before passport application was automated, applicants had to submit physical copies of birth and/or marriage certificates, but Locsin said he prefers to use old passports as proof of identification.

“Everybody agrees with me that old passport is 1000 percent ID better than birth certificate: the holder applied for it and not someone else for a baby,” he said.

Locsin’s proposal has yet to be approved and implemented by the DFA.