/ 9 September 2022

SENATOR ALAN Peter Cayetano on Thursday decried the delay by the Department of Education in procuring laptops for teachers under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, saying it defeated the law’s purpose to aid the education system during the height of the pandemic.

During the Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the purchase of overpriced laptops by the DepEd and the Procurement Services-Department of Budget and Management, Cayetano lamented how the two agencies took more than a year to deliver the laptops to the teachers from the time of Bayanihan 2’s passage.

“September 11, 2020 hanggang December 2021 – so y’un ang definition ng ‘urgent’ ng DepEd? Ang urgent sa inyo, aabutin ng mahigit isang taon?” Cayetano said.

He said regardless of the price of the laptops and the flaws in the bidding process, it is clear that millions of Filipino youth are suffering from the delays.

While the Senate committee hearings are held in aid of legislation, reforms should not start only after a law is passed but when the people see that government officials are being held accountable for their acts, the senator said.

Bayanihan 2, which was approved on September 11, 2020, allotted P4.35 billion to DepEd, of which P2.4 billion was to be used to buy laptops for teachers.

“Did the DepEd show a sense of urgency sa P4 billion na binigay sa inyo?” the senator asked, adding that it was the department that asked for the funds from Congress in the first place.

Tracing the timeline, the Blue Ribbon Vice chairman questioned certain points in the process which he said were factors that led to the delay.

For one, he said it does not make sense that DepEd had to transfer the work to the PS-DBM since it had five Bids and Awards Committees of its own at the time of Bayanihan 2.

“Kung may lima kayong BAC at may P500 billion kayo na pondo sa departamento, bakit hindi niyo ma-bid ang P4.2 billion?” he asked.

When DepEd Undersecretary for Finance Annalyn Sevilla said the Department only had one month left to finish the procurement before the lapse of Bayanihan 2, Cayetano reminded her that Bayanihan 2 had been extended another year during the time DepEd decided to pass the work to PS-DBM.

He also said DepEd had no excuse with regards to the deadline because the agency could have begun the bidding even with the Special Allotment Release Order still being processed.

“September 12 pwede na kayong mag-bid, pero hindi niyo ginawa hanggang wala ang SARO, alam niyo namang pwede,” he said.

Cayetano also questioned the inclusion of regional DepEd directors as recipients of the laptops.

“Very clear ‘yan sa Bayanihan 2: ‘yang mga laptop na ‘yan para sa mga lugar na walang wala talaga. Eh anong ginawa niyong distribution, sinimulan niyo sa regional director pababa?” he asked.