Cayetano calls for Senate probe on overpriced DepEd laptops

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday filed a resolution calling on the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to conduct an investigation into the Department of Education (DepEd)’s procurement of allegedly overpriced entry-level laptops.

In filing Proposed Senate Resolution No. 134 on August 11, 2022, Cayetano said there is “an urgent need for the Senate to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the issue” and why it had taken so long “given the urgency of Bayanihan II for the procurement to take place.”

Cayetano was referring to a July 29, 2022 report by the Commission on Audit (COA) which noted that teachers’ laptops purchased through the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service (DBM-PS) were pricey relative to their unit specifications.

The laptops were procured as part of a P4-billion allocation provided for “the implementation of Digital Education, Information Technology (IT) and Digital Infrastructures and Alternative Learning Modalities…” in the Bayanihan to Recover As One or Bayanihan II Act, which was approved on September 11, 2020 during Cayetano’s tenure as House Speaker, to help teachers adapt to hybrid learning and be able to teach students remotely.

However, there was a nine-month delay in the procurement of the laptops, with the P2.4-billion contract for the purchase of the equipment being awarded only on June 30, 2021. The distribution of the laptops to teachers started in late August 2021, according to DepEd at the time.

In his resolution, Cayetano quoted from Proverbs 29:2 which says, “when the righteous are praised, the people will rejoice: but when the ungodly rule, men mourn.”

He added that the Filipino people have “mourned government failure in curbing corruption” during previous administrations, and that the allegedly anomalous purchase of laptops could be yet another case of government mismanagement that needs to be looked into.

Cayetano said there is a need to ensure the integrity of the government’s procurement service in light of a number of pending Senate bills proposing the purchase and distribution of gadgets for learners and teachers.

“There is a pressing need to ensure that the hard-earned money of taxpayers are put to good use, especially during this time of pandemic, and that the goals of the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act are achieved,” Cayetano said in the Senate resolution.

The senator also pointed out that the Senate needs to look into the “evident discrepancy” between the P4 billion appropriation to assist the DepEd in the implementation of Digital Education, Information Technology (IT) and Digital Infrastructures and Alternative Learning Modalities provided for in Bayanihan II, and the P2.4 billion contract price of the alleged overpriced and outdated laptops provided to the teachers.

“In order to build our nation, we have to stand for what is right. Ang tama ay tama, at ang mali ay mali,” he said.

“It is high time to meet the issues head-on, determine where accountability lies. Dapat malaman ng taumbayan kung mayroong pagkakamali, saan nagkamali at paano maitatama ang mali,” the resolution read. ####

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