/ 20 January 2023

THE DEPARTMENT of Education vowed to fully cooperate on the filing of administrative and criminal complaints against former and sitting officials involved in the procurement of overpriced laptops for public school teachers amounting to P2.4 billion.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Sen. Francis Tolentino on Thursday recommended the filing of charges against officials of DepEd and the Department of Budget and Management over the purchase of the laptops in 2021.

Among those recommended to be charged are former DepEd undersecretary Alain del Pascua, DepEd undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla, former DepEd assistant secretary Salvador Malana III, DepEd director Abram Abanil, former DepEd executive assistant Alec Ladanga, former PS-DBM officer-in-charge Executive Director Lloyd Christopher Lao, former PS-DBM executive director Jasonmer Uayan, and PS-DBM BAC chairman Ulysses Mora.

DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa said the department will cooperate with the Office of the Ombudsman if it files charges against sitting DepEd officials.

“DepEd will cooperate kung meron mang proceedings that are to take place in terms of if they need documentation on the side of DepEd. We are one with the Senate doon sa layunin na maging maganda pa ang procurement process,” Poa told reporters in an online briefing.

“We will have to see if it will be a case filed by the Ombudsman or DepEd. Especially in this case, the transaction was not limited to just one agency. DepEd and PS-DBM are involved,” Poa added.

He said that Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte-Carpio is committed to transparency and accountability.

“So, we appreciate the investigation conducted by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. As to their findings and recommendations, tayo naman po sa DepEd will consider those findings and recommendations so that we can also strengthen our internal controls in terms of procurement,” Poa said.

He said that Duterte-Carpio’s first order when she assumed the DepEd’s top post was to separate the procurement from the main responsibility of the department’s administrative services.

“So, the recommendations and findings of the Blue Ribbon Committee will definitely be considered so that we could streamline and put in internal controls to ensure that our procurement process is efficient and transparent,” he added.

Auditors of the Commission on Audit said the DepEd paid P58,300 for each laptop even if its approved budget for the contract set was only P35,046.50 per unit or an excess of P23,253.50 per unit.

It said that due to the 66-percent price jack-up, the DepEd had to rethink its original plan to provide laptops to 68,500 teachers, with the number reduced by almost half to just 39,583.