Senators grill DepEd executive for allowing purchase of overpriced laptops | Inquirer News

Senators grill DepEd executive for allowing purchase of overpriced laptops

By: - Reporter / @DYGalvezINQ
/ 05:27 PM August 25, 2022
A teachers checks the laptop issued to him by the government as the units were allegedly overpriced and outdated which Vice President Sara Duterte wants investigated

FILE PHOTO: Grade 3 teacher Edmund John Gambon checks the performance of a government-issued laptop at Apolonio Samson Elementary School in Quezon City on Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Department of Education said it would test if indeed the laptops need replacement. INQUIRER/GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines — Senators on Thursday grilled an official of the Department of Education (DepEd) on his role in allowing the purchase of overpriced laptops meant for teachers to go through.


The first question that Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa raised was why, after being informed by the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service, the Department of Education bought laptops that cost more than it originally proposed.

Dela Rosa pointed out that the DepEd had presented a laptop price of over P35,000 per unit. However, the PS-DBM countered this price with a P58,000 price per unit.


“Hindi ba kayo concerned na kakaunti ang quantity kapag ganoon kamahal at saka magdududa ang tao kung bakit ganito na lang kamahal yung procurement ng laptop na yan?” he asked.

(Were you not concerned with that price, the number of laptops that can be bought will be fewer and people will question the high cost of the computer?)

“Sinabi rito na pumayag kayo noong sinuggest ng PS-DBM na ganito kataas ang presyo. Bakit kayo pumayag na taasan ang presyo?” Dela Rosa added.

DepEd Undersecretary Alain Pascua explained that the pricing issue was no longer brought to the higher-ups since the director of the Information and Communications Technology Service (ICTS) has already agreed with the pricing.

“On the bottom of the annex, they put there the option of the DepEd to whether to accept the lesser quantity, that’s the action slip they have provided us and the ICTS director signed that concurrence on that action slip. It was never addressed to the higher-ups of the DepEd,” he said.

It was then Senator Alan Peter Cayetano’s turn to question Pascua, pointing out that the procurement price of the procured entry-level laptops, which was at P58,300 per unit, is almost equivalent to the market price of a high-end laptop.

“Itong Macbook air, kapresyo ng pinabili ninyo. Is it incompetence or kakuntsaba ka ng mga PS-DBM? ‘Wag na tayong paikot ikot dito. Inapprove niyong presyo, presyo ng high-end,” the senator asked.


(This MacBook air is at the same price as what you bought. Is it incompetence, or are you colluding with the PS-DBM? Let’s not beat around the bush. The price you approved was the price of a high-end laptop.)

Pascua, however, said that it was the ICTS, not the DepEd, who approved the price.

“Hindi ko sinabing ako ang nag-confirm or ako ang nagconcur. Hindi ko sinabi yan. I did not,” he answered.
(I did not say I was the one who confirmed or concurred with the document. I did not say that.)

Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Francis Tolentino then butted in, saying it appears that Pascua and Abrim Abanil, a member of the PS-DBM’s special awards and bids committee, were the document’s signatories regarding the pricing of the laptops.

To which Pascua answered, raising his tone, “Hindi, your honor. Wala akong pangalan diyan, your honor.”

Having heard Pascua’s tone, Tolentino retorted that the DepEd official did not need to raise his voice.

“Wag mo taasan ang boses mo. Kaya tayo may microphone dito, you don’t have to elevate your voice. Naririnig ka namin, ‘wag mo kaming sigawan,” the Senate blue ribbon chairman said.

(Don’t raise your voice. We have microphones here. You don’t have to elevate your voice. We can hear you, don’t shout at us.)

Cayetano then continued his inquiry, asking Pascua who approved the document regarding the pricing of laptops in DepEd.

Pascua explained that the DepEd did not approve anything about the pricing, adding that its ICTS only agreed with PS-DBM on reducing the quantity of laptops purchased due to the increased price.

“Wala kaming inapprove as to that price. ‘Yung document na binigay sa amin ng PS-DBM ay hindi para kunin ang approval ng DepEd doon sa kanilang presyo. Ang hinihingi ng PS-DBM sa amin ay kung ‘yung option ba na ganyan ang presyo ay bababaan yung quantity. ‘Yun ‘yung cinoncur ng ICTS,” he said.

(We did not approve anything as to the price. The document that PS-DBM gave us is not to ask for DepEd’s approval of the laptop price. They were just asking us to concur with the option of lowering the quantity of laptops being procured due to the increased price and the ICTS concurred.)

Cayetano then retorted that it’s “basically the same thing,” saying Pascua’s answer is just an alibi.

“Eh ‘di ganun din ‘yun. Pinaikot mo lang eh. Ang tawag diyan ay palusot. Hindi mo pwedeng sabihin na in-approve mo ‘yung ganun karami pero hindi mo in-approve ‘yung ganung presyo kasi it goes together,” the senator said.

(That’s the same thing. You’re just beating around the bush. That’s just an alibi. You can’t say that you approved the quantity of the laptops being procured but not the price because those go together.)

Tolentino then showed a document titled “justification to modify the connectivity load for high schools where Pascua was a signatory.

“Hindi totoo na wala kang pinirmahan. Kayo lang dalawa ni Director Abanil ng ICTS ang nagpirmahan nito para ma-justify ‘yung pagkuha sa mas mataas na halaga ng laptop,” Tolentino said.

(It’s not true that you didn’t sign anything. Only you and Abanil have signed this document justifying the procurement of a pricier laptop.)

Pascua tried to jump in but this apparently irked Tolentino, threatening to cite the DepEd official in contempt.

“Ipatapos mo ako. Ico-contempt kita ‘pag hindi mo ako pinatapos… It is unfair to us holding these documents for you have a continuing denial, for you to say you never signed anything. It’s your signature, diba?” Tolentino said.

(Let me finish. I will cite you in contempt if you don’t let me finish.)

Tolentino then concluded this part of the questioning, saying that the committee would later on question Pascua again on the issue.

The Senate blue ribbon committee is investigating the DepEd’s procurement of allegedly overpriced laptops for teachers during the implementation of blended learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.


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TAGS: Alan Cayetano‎, Bato dela Rosa, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Education, DepEd overpriced laptops, Francis Tolentino
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