The proposed National Identification System, deemed to be an effective resort for the distribution of government’s emergency subsidy to Filipinos during this COVID-19 crisis, was seen marred with inconsistencies and anomalies when the program's chief implementor, Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), failed to scrutinize the bidders' contentious reputations.
Makabayan bloc member and Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate has been questioning the reputation of Joint Venture Idemia Identity and Security France and FMC Research Solutions Inc., for being dubious before winning the lowest bid for the procurement of supply, installation, support and maintenance of the Automated Biometric Identification System for the said project.
A source, meanwhile, supported Rep. Zarate's claims and alleged the PSA for failing to scrutinize Idemia, who won the ABIS bid amounting to P683 Million, with Bid Reference No. Public Bidding No. 2019-08.
The source noted that PSA chief, Undersecretary Claire Dennis Mapa, had already informed JV Idemia first week of April, 2020, that they won the bid without releasing an official Notice of Award for this procurement.
"It has been way more than 60 calendar days since the opening of bids which exceeds the maximum allowable aggregate post qualification period of 30 calendar days based on the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Republic Act. No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act," according to the source's letter to then National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director Ernesto Pernia dated March 16, 2020, asking for a thorough investigation and intervention.
The source added that Usec. Mapa has already communicated to Mr. Gauray Gupta, authorized representative of JV Idemia dated April 6, instructing Gupta to enter into a contract with PSA, 10 days upon receipt of the letter and to submit the corresponding Performance Security Bond.
"While we have no idea how PSA arrived at awarding the project to Idemia, it seems the agency had failed miserably in conducting due diligence on the bid winner," the source said.
The source quipped "if the PSA awards the ABIS, a vital component in the national ID system, JV Idemia has to work on the following developments: (a) A validator middleware for quality check of biometric captures; and, (b) Synching features to send offline packets for biometric processing), which according to IT experts, will take at least four to six months. In addition, there will be a stabilization stage that would take another two to six months depending on the issues to be encountered when the system is deployed." In other words, they cannot do this within the timelines set by acting NEDA Sec. Karl Chua. Moreover, this is just one component of the end to end solution needed to produce the actual ID.
Also in its letter to Pernia, the source revealed that PSA has been dealing with "unscrupulous" bidders, including the Joint Venture Idemia Identity and Security France and FMC Research Solutions Inc. for its tainted reputations in dealing with other clients overseas.
The source claimed that JV Idemia has been hiding "skeletons in the closet", as it committed major downfalls in dealing with other countries, for "using multiple shell companies to hide from liabilities of blacklisting, corruption and fraud."
The source added that "JV Idemia was blacklisted by the World Bank over corrupt practices in the Bangladesh National ID project; banned in Kenya for the Huduman Namba National ID Project; has several technical issues concerning security and alleged breach of data; has ongoing lawsuits in Nigeria; has corruption issues in Nepal. In the PSA tender itself, they failed to submit the mandatory format for Section VI of the bidding requirements; have no experience in Modular Open Source Identity (MOSIP) Integration; its too general approach when it comes to technical specification and failed compliance; and FMC's failure to declare other ongoing projects with the Philippine government.
The source said that Idemia was blacklisted in other countries, including Kenya, which it failed to disclose to the PSA, which is a ground for disqualification as well.
And to effectively hide from supposed liabilities and blacklisting, the source said Idemia allegedly uses multiple companies when in fact, it is controlled by a single global ultimate owner – the Advent International Corp.- which has been the owner of Oberthur Technologies since 2011.