DepEd Usec denies involvement in Caloocan City smart tablets procurement

Published June 2, 2021, 1:59 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Education Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del Pascua denied involvement in the procurement process of smart tablets distributed to students in Caloocan City.

DepEd / MANILA BULLETIN

“I was not involved in the procurement process in Caloocan City,” Pascua told the Manila Bulletin on Wednesday, June 2.

As reported, graft charges were filed against Pascua and four others before the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) regarding the purchase of smart tablets worth P320 million.

These tablets were used by students in public schools last year when the distance learning set-up was first implemented by the Department of Education (DepEd) due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation in the country.

Asked to comment on the said graft charges, Pascua said: “I have not received nor seen the charge sheets.”

DepEd Undersecretary Alain Del Pascua (Photo from DepEd)

According to the complainants, the said smart tablets were purchased “without public bidding.” These, they alleged, were also “overpriced” and failed meet the minimum specifications set by the DepEd when it comes to learning gadgets to be used by students.

The office of DepEd Undersecretary for Administration headed by Pascua is also in-charge of setting the minimum specifications for e-learning gadgets through the Information and Communications Technology Service (ICTS).

In June 2020, Pascua’s office – through ICTS – also recommended minimum specifications for laptops, desktops, tablet PCs, tablets, smartphones, and internet services that will be donated to public schools, teachers, and/or students.

Pascua noted that DepEd has been promoting that the minimum technical specifications for gadgets and devices issued by DepEd to potential donors should also be the same for parents, learners and teachers as well.

“We only dwell on minimum specs, not on the cost,” he said. “But we prefer that these are compliant so we can maximize the use of these gadgets,” he added.

Without face-to-face classes, lessons are delivered to the students in their homes through printed or digital modules, online learning resources such as the DepEd Commons; and television or radio-based instruction for school year (SY) 2020-2021.

DepEd has been pushing for the use of technology particularly e-gadgets or learning gadgets to reduce production of printed self-learning modules (SLMs) which, according to the agency, is “very expensive” and “harmful” to the environment.

 
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