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Pimentel seeks Senate probe into ‘pricey, outdated’ DepEd laptops

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Pimentel seeks Senate probe into âpricey, outdatedâ DepEd laptops
Students attend a class at Ricardo P. Cruz elementary school in Taguig City, suburban Manila on Dec. 6, 2021, after authorities loosened COVID-19 restrictions to allow limited in-person classes in the capital city.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III is asking the chamber’s Blue Ribbon panel to investigate the laptops bought by the Department of Education through the procurement service of the Department of Budget and Management which the Commission on Audit flagged for being “pricey” and “outdated.”

In Senate Resolution No. 120, Pimentel said there is a need for the DepEd and the PS-DBM to explain why the price of laptops changed to P58,300 from P35,046.50 and the DepEd’s approval and acceptance of these despite not being within original budget and technical specifications.

“When the procurement process is plagued with problems such as deficiencies, irregularities and corruption, the government loses a huge amount of money. But corruption in public procurement is not just about losing money. It also reduces the quality of work or services rendered by the government to the people, in this case, our child learners,” Pimentel said.

This is at least the second resolution filed in Congress in relation to the laptops procured by DepEd. In the House of Representatives, the progressive Makabayan bloc is also calling on the chamber to launch an investigation into the devices.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa said they will either provide a “quick fix” for the laptops if proven to be slow or would ask the supplier to replace them since they are supposedly still under warranty.

Poa also said they will closely coordinate with the PS-DBM over the laptops.

State auditors called out DepEd’s central office for its purchase of 39,583 laptops for public school teachers, through the PS-DBM, amounting to P2.4 billion, saying these were “pricey” for an entry-level laptop.

The COA said the estimated cost of each laptop increased to from P35,046.50, which was the DepEd’s original request, to P58,300, that was anchored on the PS-DBM’s recommendation eventually accepted by the DepEd.

The laptops in question were also said to have “outdated” Intel Celeron processors and were apparently “too slow” for online learning.

The last time the PS-DBM landed in headlines was during the Senate’s investigation into the multi-billion peso purchase of pandemic supplies by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, which concluded with a recommendation to file complaints against the former president himself and other budget officials. — Xave Gregorio with a report from Maeanne Los Baños/News5

AQUILINO PIMENTEL III

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

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