On DepEd laptop debacle: ‘We need to teach kids that crime does not pay’

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday doubled down on his appeal to the Senate to probe the issue of the Department of Education’s procurement of allegedly overpriced laptops intended to assist teachers during the agency’s rollout of remote learning amid the pandemic.

“How can we teach our kids that crime does not pay kung pagbukas nila ng TV eh halos kapresyo ng MacBook Air ang laptop na binili para sa teachers nila?” Cayetano said at a press conference prior to the Senate session on August 15, 2022, pointing out that the specifications of the laptops did not merit the high price.

“Kung walang tinatago, walang mawawala sa isang imbestigasyon. Malalaman agad ng tao kung ito ba ay dahil sa bureaucratic red tape, o may nagkamali, or may nangorap ba dito?” he added.

At the same time, Cayetano said he believes former President Rodrigo Duterte, under whose administration the laptop purchase was made, had nothing to do with the issue. “I have full faith na walang kinalaman si PRRD sa mga laptop na ‘yan dahil alam kong hindi nakikialam siya sa mga ganyan. Too trivial na para pakialaman niya pa,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano had filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 134 on August 11, 2022, asking the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to conduct an investigation in aid of legislation on the education department’s procurement of allegedly overpriced laptops through the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service (DBM-PS).

In the resolution, Cayetano asked why the laptops were seemingly priced beyond their specifications, pointing out that the units procured had slow, entry-level processors.

He also said the procurement of the laptops happened nine months after the budget for their purchase was approved under the Bayanihan II pandemic relief bill.

The funds for the purchase were already available by September 2020, but the laptops were only bought around nine months later in June 2021 and distributed to public school teachers in August that year.

The former House Speaker told reporters that a probe on the DepEd laptop procurement issue would be a good test case for the Blue Ribbon Committee because the Commission on Audit’s report on the matter suggests that only a few actors were involved, compared to the larger Pork Barrel Fund scam that shook the Aquino administration in 2013.

“My point is this is a very good first case for the Blue Ribbon Committee because it is simple. Kung mayroong anomalya, we can hold someone accountable para maipakita sa tao na hindi ito lulusot,” Cayetano said.

“Kung hindi natin ito maayos, magkakalakas ng loob ang iba dahil napakasimple na nga ito, nakakalusot pa,” he added.

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