Pimentel: PS-DBM knew of cheaper laptops but still got expensive ones
MANILA, Philippines — Did the officials of the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) suddenly suffer from a short-term memory loss?
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Sunday said the DBM’s controversial procurement agency was able to purchase cheaper and better-equipped laptops before and after it bought the “pricey but outdated” gadgets worth P2.4 billion for the Department of Education (DepEd).
He said his office was now collating more information regarding the PS-DBM’s previous transactions after he filed last week a Senate resolution seeking an inquiry into the laptop deal, which the Commission on Audit (COA) had flagged.
“Before and after the questioned procurement of laptops, PS-DBM purchased laptops with better specifications at a lower price,” Pimentel told the Inquirer.
“So they already have the knowledge about the prices before [they procured the laptops for DepEd]. And then they ‘discovered’ a better deal after,” he said.
Citing information from the COA, the senator said the PS-DBM procured “mid-range type” laptops in May 2021 for P45,431.20 per unit, much cheaper than the laptops intended for public school teachers that cost more than P58,000.
In June 2020, he said the agency had also bought laptops with faster processors for only P32,500 each.
“The questionable transaction in the ‘middle’ just ‘digressed” from this,” Pimentel said.
“So what happened to the (PS-DBM’s) so-called expertise and ‘institutional memory?’” he said in a separate radio interview.
The Senate leader said it would be better for Cabinet secretaries and other head of agencies to handle their own procurement needs amid the latest scandal hounding the PS-DBM.
He also agreed with Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate basic education committee, that the DBM’s procurement office had been apparently used to line the pockets of corrupt government officials.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., he added, should designate a “reformer” to head the PS-DBM and that Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman should exercise her authority to ensure that the agency under her department would not be involved in any wrongdoing again.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros earlier said that she would file a similar resolution urging her colleagues to summon former Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao anew as she surmised that he had a role in the allegedly anomalous supply contract.
Lao, who quit his post in June 2021, was previously linked to the supposed irregularities in the government contracts awarded to Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., a startup company that bagged P8.7 billion worth of medical supplies at the height of the pandemic in 2020.
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