The Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday promised “transparency” and “accountability” following the recommendation of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee to file criminal and administrative charges against DepEd and the Procurement Service – Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) over purchased laptops that were allegedly overpriced by at least P 979 million.
In a hastily called online press conference, DepEd spokesperson Atty. Michael Tan Poa said that their commitment of transparency and accountability “applies specifically also to the procurement process.”
“So we appreciate the investigation that was conducted by the Blue Ribbon Committee as to their findings and recommendations tayo naman po sa Deped, we will consider those recommendations and findings so that we can also strenghten our internal controls in terms of procurement in DepEd,” Poa said noting that Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte “really takes the procurement seriously.”
Poa cited that Duterte’s first directive is to separate the procurement from the administrative strand.
“Gumawa na tayo ng isang [We created a] strand that is solely focused on procurement. So the recommendations and findings of the Blue Ribbon Committee will definitety be considered so that we could streamline and put in internal controls to ensure that our procurement process is effecient and transparent,” he stressed.
Pressing of charges
As to the questions of the media on the charges to be filed against the officials, Poa said they have yet to receive the report of the panel.
“Again, we have not received the report but perhaps that is something will be considered by the Ombusdman. We will monitor and of course Deped will cooperate kung meron mang [if there will be] proceedings that are going to take place in terms if they need documentation on the side of Deped,”
Poa reiterated, “We are one with them (Senate) doon sa layunin na maging maganda pa ang procurement process [in their goal to make the procurement process better].”
The said laptops were purchased during the previous administration, with former DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones.
The Commission on Audit said the DepEd paid P58,300 for each laptop even if its approved budget for the contract set only P35,046.50 per unit or an excess of P23,253.50 per unit.
The purchase was conducted through PS-DBM which was also dragged behind the controversial multi-billion peso purchase by the government of face masks, personal protective equipment and other Covid-19 supplies from Pharmally Corporation.