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House probe sought on purchase of 'pricey, outdated' laptops for teachers

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House probe sought on purchase of 'pricey, outdated' laptops for teachers
Students attend a class at Ricardo P. Cruz elementary school in Taguig city, suburban Manila on December 6, 2021, after authorities loosened Covid-19 coronavirus restrictions to allow limited in-person classes in the capital city.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc called on the House of Representatives to launch an investigation into the purchase of “pricey” entry-level laptops for public school teachers.

Led by Rep. France Castro (ACT Teachers party-list), the three-member group filed Monday House Resolution 189 directing the chamber's committee on good governance to probe, in aid of legislation, the procurement of expensive but outdated laptops by the Department of Education.

“Especially amid the pandemic, economic crisis and ailing educational situation, the government should ensure that the access of teachers and students to quality programs and services,” the resolution read.

The Commission on Audit flagged DepEd’s central office for buying P2.4 billion worth of laptops last year, saying these were “pricey” for an entry-level type of laptop.

According to state auditors, the estimated cost of each laptop increased to P58,300 from P35,046.50, which was the original request of the DepEd. The final price was anchored on the recommendation of the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management and accepted by the DepEd.

The laptops were also said to have “outdated” Intel Celeron processors and were apparently “too slow” for online learning.

“Not only did the government waste the people’s money for purchasing expensive yet outdated laptops, it also deprived thousands of teachers of gadgets that could have helped them implement distance learning,” the resolution of the Makabayan bloc read.

PS-DBM Director Dennis Santiago said he will order a “thorough examination” of the cost and the technical specifications of the laptop. The DepEd earlier said that PS-DBM should be the one to answer questions on the issue.

The education agency also said that it is “taking steps” to address the recommendations of the COA.

The last time the PS-DBM landed in headlines was during the Senate’s investigation into the multi-billion peso purchase of personal protective equipment and test kits by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, which concluded with a recommendation to file complaints against the former chief executive himself and other budget officials. — Gaea Katreena Cabico with reports from Xave Gregorio and The STAR/Louise Maureen Simeon

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

MAKABAYAN BLOC

THE DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT’S PROCUREMENT SERVICE

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