Teachers ask why firms in DepEd laptop mess not yet blacklisted | Inquirer News

Teachers ask why firms in DepEd laptop mess not yet blacklisted

/ 05:44 AM July 21, 2023

PRICEY GADGET Questions over the quality and pricing ofthe laptops issued by the Department of Education during the pandemic lockdown led to a five-month Senate investigation. Photo taken in August 2022 in a Quezon City classroom. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

PRICEY GADGET Questions over the quality and pricing of the laptops issued by the Department of Education during the pandemic lockdown led to a five-month Senate investigation. Photo taken in August 2022 in a Quezon City classroom. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

A group of public school teachers on Thursday called out the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) for its failure to blacklist the suppliers of the overpriced and outdated laptops it bought for the Department of Education (DepEd) in 2021.

In a statement, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) chair Vladimer Quetua said the PS-DBM’s inaction eroded accountability and was a “dereliction of its duty to safeguard public funds from malversation” in contracts amounting to a total of P2.4 billion.


In their 2022 annual audit report published on Wednesday, state auditors said that the PS-DBM had not yet implemented the recommendation of the Commission on Audit (COA) to submit a resolution on the termination of contracts or blacklisting of the suppliers of the controversial laptop procurement deal.


‘Big slap’

The PS-DBM management claimed that it submitted the resolution to the head of the procuring entity, which is DepEd. But upon validation, the COA said the PS-DBM’s “blacklisting and termination review committee has not yet conducted blacklisting proceedings over the subject contracts.”

The Inquirer received no comment from officers of the PS-DBM as of this writing.

Quetua said the PS-DBM’s inaction to hold the suppliers accountable was a “big slap in the face” of teachers.

He alleged that the PS-DBM and its suppliers “made a profit” from the procurement of the laptops that were of no use to teachers holding distance learning classes during quarantine restrictions.

The COA pointed out in its report that the computers delivered to Metro Manila were “too slow because the processor is Intel Celeron, which is outdated, and the price is too high based on the specifications.”

One of the teachers interviewed by the Inquirer said that the laptop given to her was too slow and unusable so she had to borrow what her sibling was using.


She said that the computer’s camera, needed for online classes, was faulty and it took her 15 minutes just to open several files.

ACT called on the Marcos administration to compel the DBM to act on the issue as its procurement arm “failed to exemplify accountability.”

Charge them already

The group further urged concerned agencies to file charges against the top officials who were involved in the procurement of the overpriced laptops, recover the amount and allot the funds to support the teachers.

Under Republic Act No. 11494, or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, DepEd, through the PS-DBM, allocated P2.4 billion to provide for the urgent need of public school teachers for laptops during the pandemic.

According to the COA’s 2021 annual audit report, DepEd’s purchases were “pricey for an entry-level type laptop” and there was an “adversely decreased number”—from 68,500 to 39,583 laptops that had originally been budgeted at P35,046.50 each.

The COA said the PS-DBM favored the joint venture of three companies—Sunwest Construction and Development Corp., LDLA Marketing and Trading Inc. and VST ECS Philippines Inc.—over other bidders despite its failure to meet the required technical specifications.

P979-M ‘overprice’

The controversy led to a five-month Senate investigation, which concluded in January. According to a 195-page Senate blue ribbon committee report, the laptops were overpriced by at least P979 million, with each finally valued at P58,300.

“Not only were these procurement attended by a substantial number of irregularities, it clearly appears that the government paid a lot more than what it was supposed to,” the report said.

The senators recommended the filing of graft and administrative charges against several DepEd officials, namely, Undersecretary for Finance Analyn Sevilla, former Education Undersecretary Alain del Pascua, former Education Assistant Secretary Salvador Malana III, and information and communications technology director Abram Abanil.



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DepEd open to replacing teachers’ ‘outdated, pricey’ laptops

TAGS: DBM, DepEd, laptop, procurement, Service, Teachers

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