Still smarting from accusations that it spent billions of pesos in public funds for overpriced COVID-19 supplies, the Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management was assailed anew for hoarding P5.53 billion allocated by government for the purchase of learning materials.
Asst. Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro said the PS-DBM and the Department of Education should be held liable for the procurement failure.
Castro said the undelivered learning materials for continuing education prevented millions of learners access to quality education amid the continue public health treat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Castro’s accusation against the PS-DBM surfaced as incumbent and former officials of the controversial agency have yet to clear themselves from allegations of conspiring with the Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corporation to hoodwink government of billions of pesos in funds through the purchase of overpriced face masks and face shields.
Citing the 2020 annual audit report for DepEd, Castro said the department has P6.65 billion in outstanding fund transfers to PS-DBM.
At least 83 percent or P5.53 billion was transferred to PS-DBM for the purchase of computer hardware and software while P502.83 million was allocated for various instructional and learning materials and textbooks.
No delivery has been made by PS-DBM, an agency that was created to help various government offices in procuring common use supplies such as bond papers, ball pens and other office needs.
Castro noted that while students and their parents scramble to find computer gadgets and other materials to be able to cope with the current education situation, PS-DBM and DepEd has not taken steps to add “These P5.53 billion worth of computer hardware and software, textbooks and other learning materials it procured from the Procurement Service–Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) in 2020 should have aided thousands of students and teachers in the blended distance learning,” she stated.
The lady solon added; “This undelivered learning materials shows the Duterte administration’s lack of priority, urgency and belittles the importance of providing access to quality education amid a pandemic.” According to the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, the Php5.53 billion undelivered funds could have been used to procure 221,200 laptops.
“The Duterte administration shows no urgency in the timely distribution of learning materials and other resources amid the pandemic. This is very critical in ensuring that there is continuity of education and that it is still quality education to limit learning loss amid the blended distance learning modes,” Castro said.