Ombudsman suspends DepEd, PS-DBM execs over alleged overpriced laptops
MANILA, Philippines — Several current and former officials of Department of Education (DepEd) and Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) have been suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman.
The order is due to their alleged involvement in the purchase of reportedly overpriced laptops.
In an order signed by Ombudsman Samuel Martires last August 23 and released to the media on Friday, the following were ordered suspended for six months without pay:
DepEd Finance Division head Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla
Former DepEd Administration and Procurement head Undersecretary Alain del Pascua
Former PS-DBM head and DBM Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao
DepEd Assistant Secretary Salvador Malana III
DepEd Director Abram Abanil
Former PS-DBM officer-in-charge Jasonmer Uayan
PS-DBM Procurement Management Officer IV Ulysses Mora
PS-DBM Procurement Management Officer I Marwan Amil
DepEd Executive Assistant IV Alec Ladanga
DepEd Director IV Marcelo Bragado
DepEd Supervising Administrative Officer Selwyn Briones
PS-DBM Procurement Management Officer V Paul Armand Estrada
All of the officials were subject of complaints filed by Senate blue ribbon committee chairperson Senator Francis Tolentino.
A series of congressional hearings were held on this matter.
The issue started with Commission on Audit (COA) audit report stating that DepEd had supposedly purchased expensive laptops that contained low-end processors in 2021.
These transactions were facilitated by PS-DBM.
COA noted P2.4 billion was approved for purchasing laptops for online teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the commission stated “the economy and efficiency in the procurement of laptop computers” were not guaranteed after DepEd settled with PS-DBM’s price and specification recommendations, which rose from P35,046.50 on its Agency Procurement Request (APR) to P58,300 on its Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC).”
The laptops have Intel Celeron processors, which are usually found in entry-level personal computers.
According to the Ombudsman’s order, there are sufficient grounds to suspend the officials, as “there is strong evidence showing their guilt.”
Ombudsman also noted the charges against the officials — grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and gross neglect of duty — may lead to their removal from office.
Just this Thursday, Ombudsman also ordered the filing of graft raps against Lao and other PS-DBM officials for their involvement in a different case — that of alleged overpriced personal protective equipment (PPEs) purchased from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to COA’s report, Department of Health (DOH) transferred P67.32 billion of its COVID-19 funds to PS-DBM.
However, COA noted P42 billion of these COVID-19 funds contained deficiencies — including the P8.7 billion contracts given to Pharmally.
Senators then questioned why Pharmally was tapped to supply the health equipment when it only had a small paid-up capital of P625,000.