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Opinion

Here's one for 8888

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag - The Freeman

Remember Antonio Calipjo Go, the academic supervisor at a school in Quezon City who has made a name for himself as a whistleblower of sorts for mostly things education-related? Well, Mr. Go is at it again, writing a national newspaper about a series of invitations to bid published by that newspaper over a period of nine months, from October 2015 to July 2016.

I beg the indulgence of Mr. Go for taking the liberty to take up his concerns here because I believe they deserve the widest possible means of dissemination. And if there is a way this can reach the attention of no less than President Duterte, that would make Mr. Go very happy, and the nation truly grateful, that is if the piece written by Mr. Go himself has not been brought to his awareness already.

The subject of Mr. Go's concern is a series of invitations to bid caused to be published by the Department of Education on three different dates. In them, the DepEd sought the mass production, supply and delivery of science and mathematics equipment packages to different public schools. The science and math equipment packs are ostensibly intended for use in Grades 1 to 3, Grades 4 to 6, and Grades 11 and 12. Total cost for all these packages is a whopping P6.1 billion.

Assuming the deals had been consummated considering that the invitations to bid happened between October 2015 to July 2016, Mr. Go now asks why the DepEd bought P1.2 billion worth of science and math equipment for Grades 1 to 3 when science subjects are not yet taught in Grades 1 and 2 in public elementary schools? And what science equipment can Grade 3 pupils possibly use when science as a subject is just only being introduced in Grade 3?, Mr. Go further asks.

Also, Mr. Go noted that only Grade 11 has been implemented this year pursuant to the introduction of the K to 12 program. It will not be until next year that Grade 12 will be implemented, so he asks why provisions for science and math equipment for Grade 12 were included in the deal? Out of the whole P6.1 billion deal, the allocation for Grades 11 and 12 is a resounding P2.4 billion even if Grade 12 is still not in the picture.

Mr. Go says that while Grade 11 is now being implemented, not all public secondary schools teach Grade 11. So he asks how many of the 3,490 public senior high schools listed in the July 31, 2016 invitation to bid are actually teaching Grade 11? And out of these, how many are offering the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) strand?

Other questions Mr. Go asked were: How will any entity be able to monitor and check the delivery and distribution of P6.1 billion worth of science equipment that, being by nature generally small items, would be very difficult to count, account for, distribute, or keep? What particular schools get to receive which particular equipment? There are no specifications pertaining to the equipment in all of the five contracts, he said.

Based on the foregoing, it is very clear that there are very questionable and highly suspicious purchases being made by the DepEd that deserve stricter and closer scrutiny by the Duterte administration in line with its war against corruption. It is time the practice of making education the convenient excuse for making money out of government be stopped and the people involved in them punished.

Duterte should take this matter personally. He should be directly involved in its investigation. It is something he cannot leave to his appointees in the department to handle. It needs his iron hand because corruption in education has gone on for far too long. No wonder too many Filipinos fall easily into corruption - because they were brought up in a system that actively participated in its perpetuation.

jerrytundag@yahoo.com.

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