By Nancy Carvajal
Authorities are investigating officials of the government printing agency APO Production Unit for allegedly changing the configuration of the “gun” used to scan cigarette tax stamps without the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) approval.
Politiko’s source said the alleged anomaly within APO was revealed by a whistleblower.
“APO’s modification of the gun means tobacco companies can get away with not paying the proper taxes for cigarettes. This is because the gun’s alarm was programmed not to go off when it scans tax stamps even though no taxes have been paid for the cigarette packs,” the source explained.
APO is BIR’s sole printer for tax stamps used to collect “sin” taxes from tobacco and liquor products. It also prints security- sensitive documents such as passports and birth certificates.
The printing company previously came under scrutiny over its production of e-passports after several foreigners were issued fake passports.
The Commission on Audit also found out that APO violated government procurement laws when it sub-contracted documents to private printers, which exposed the integrity of government forms and other security aspects of the documents.