PS-DBM clarifies: No order yet from COA to blacklist laptop suppliers
MANILA, Philippines — The Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) has clarified that it has not received any order from the Commission on Audit (COA) to blacklist laptop suppliers tagged in the controversy involving the Department of Education (DepEd).
In a statement on Friday, PS-DBM said that COA did not recommend blacklisting the company that supplied laptops to the DepEd, which was called out for the overpriced yet underpowered laptops.
PS-DBM was reacting to COA’s Audit Observation Memorandum — attached to the audit report of PS-DBM for 2022 — where it was stated that “the Blacklisting and Termination Review Committee has not yet conducted blacklisting proceedings over the subject contracts.”
“The Audit Observation Memorandum released by COA on 27 April 2022 on the DepEd laptop DID NOT recommend the termination and blacklisting of the supplier,” PS-DBM said.
“What COA recommended for that specific item was the creation of an Investigation Committee, which was adopted by previous management and submitted to COA, and was reflected with a ‘COMPLIED’ status in COA’s Status of Implementation under its 2022 Annual Audit Report (AAR),” it added.
According to PS-DBM, the laptop purchase where COA asked that the suppliers be blacklisted was not related to the DepEd issue — or the P2.4 billion procurement of laptops in 2021 flagged by COA, as contained in an audit report released in 2022.
“The recommendation to ‘immediately conduct contract termination and blacklisting proceedings’ was for a different laptop procurement involving a different supplier, not the DepED contract. The presence of a Framework Agreement expiry date which is only present in common-use supplies and equipment (CSE) points this out. The DepEd contract is a non-CSE procurement,” PS-DBM said.
“Allow us to note that the text under the ‘management action column’ stating that ‘Management submitted the resolution on termination and blacklisting to the HoPE for final approval’ was not provided by the present PS-DBM management,” it added.
The controversy with DepEd’s laptop purchase broke out after COA revealed in 2022 that the original cost was at P35,046.50 per unit, as per its Agency Procurement Request (APR), but was later on increased to P58,300 on its Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC).
The laptops that were delivered, however, which were supposedly for teachers’ use amid distance learning schemes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, had Intel Celeron processors usually found in entry-level personal computers.
Such processors are not meant to do heavy tasks as they have slower graphics processing unit (GPU) clocking speeds.
At the height of the issue, INQUIRER.net made a quick scan of online stores of well-known computer shops in the country, where it was shown that an excellent entry-level laptop with a respectable Intel I5 10th generation processor, like United States brand Dell, would sell for P35,990.
Meanwhile, an entry-level but gaming-ready laptop like Taiwan-based Asus’ TUF Dash F15 equipped with a six-gigabyte graphics card, an eight-gigabyte random access memory, and an 11th generation Intel I5 processor goes for P59,995 — almost the same price as what the PS-DBM procured.
COA noted that an estimated 28,917 teachers “were deprived of the possible benefits from the supposed provision of these laptops.”
PS-DBM meanwhile assured that the current administration is fully cooperating with the COA and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regarding the investigation of the DepEd procurement.
“On top of the creation of the Investigation Committee, the current PS-DBM management, under the leadership of Executive Director Dennis Santiago, endorsed the DepEd laptop procurement to the [NBI] for an independent probe,” PS-DBM said.
“PS-DBM is fully cooperating with the NBI by complying with specific subpoenas requesting for documents, and by allowing PS-DBM staffs to be interviewed on the matter To date, the NBI investigation is still ongoing.”
“The PS-DBM assures the public that it is fully cooperating with the COA and concerned government agencies to come up with an honest, transparent, just, and fair resolution to the issue because the Filipino people deserve nothing less,” it added.