Magsaysay won’t apologize to Palace exec, seeks explanation for computer purchases
MANILA, Philippines—Deputy Minority Leader and Zambales Representative Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay refused to apologize to Secretary Ricky Carandang for railing against his purchase of P1.6 million worth of Apple laptops and desktops without the mandatory public bidding.
Instead, Magsaysay demanded that Carandang, the head of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO), explain how two bid processes for a simple item like computers could fail and justify the negotiated purchase of the Apple computers that a militant group claimed was extravagant considering that the same computers, albeit low-cost brands, could have been bought at less than half the P1.6 million purchase price.
Magsaysay said that she would not apologize to Carandang, whom she called “onion-skinned” in reacting to criticisms on the purchase of the Apple computers. She called the deal unusual for having gone through a negotiated purchase.
“I think he should be the one who should explain and prove that the government got the best deal for these computers and that a negotiated bidding was the only way he could have gotten the best deal,’’ Magsaysay said.
Carandang’s staff member, Assistant Secretary Reginald Tongol, resigned last week for refusing to sign the purchase order for the P1.6 million Apple laptops. Carandang called the furor over the laptops a bum steer and demanded that Magsaysay make an apology.
But Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) joined the outcry against the Apple purchase as it likened Carandang to former First Lady Imelda Marcos who was notorious for buying luxurious items while the country sunk deeper in debt.
“If Mr. Carandang only checked the Internet, there are lots of brands of laptops that his office could buy between P20,000 and P30,000 per unit. Twenty thousand pesos is 200 percent cheaper compared to P67,000. A P30,000 laptop is more than 100 percent cheaper compared to a P67,000 laptop. Is Mr. Carandang the newest Imelda Marcos in Malacañang?” asked Pamalakaya chairman Fernando Hicap in a statement.
Hicap said the government could have saved between P880,000 and P1.2 million if it bought a low-priced brand. Carandang claimed that the government saved money from the deal because they were acquired below the prevailing market price at P75,000 per unit.
Magsaysay pointed out that Carandang’s preference for a luxury brand – Apple is a premium brand that thrives in its premium pricing over rivals – ran against President Benigno Aquino’s policy of frugality in government purchases. “I thought this government is against ‘utak wang-wang’ yet Carandang, who is under the President’s nose, is showing to everyone he can buy whatever brand of laptop he wants even without a proper bidding,’’ said Magsaysay.
“I am worried that this purchase will be a precedent for future government procurement not only because the buyer wanted a specific brand but because this was acquired through a negotiated sale. Secretary Carandang should explain why two biddings failed for something you can buy from Greenhills and why negotiate and not go for a third bidding?’’ asked Magsaysay in a phone interview.
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