PS-DBM taps NBI for DepEd laptop probe

Published August 12, 2022, 5:56 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

The Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) on Friday, Aug. 12, has turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) documents related to the controversial Department of Education (DepEd) laptops.

Dennis S. Santiago, PS-DBM executive director, said they also transmitted to NBI other contracts entered into by the procurement office in previous years which were the subject of Commission on Audit (COA) findings.

“This proves that the new PS-DBM administration is serious in addressing the COA audit findings, and in determining whether there were indeed irregularities or non-compliance with existing laws,” Santiago said in a statement.

Santiago earlier directed his office to conduct a thorough examination of COA’s findings emphasizing that the mandate of the PS-DBM is to ensure a transparent and competitive procurement process.

“The NBI is a highly competent investigation authority to take over the matter to ensure that the probe would be fair, impartial and independent. We do not want any room for suspicion,” Santiago said.

He added that the move to request the NBI to step in was made after the examination showed alleged discrepancies in the initial findings, which is similar to COA’s observations. 

“It is better that the NBI is handling this so it can intently examine the documents, and so our employees can also concentrate in our mandated work,” Santiago said.

“We do not want this issue to prolong. The PS-DBM has a lot of hardworking, excellent and dedicated employees who have been affected by this issue, that is why it is best to seek the NBI assistance in resolving this issue the soonest possible time,” he added.

Last Thursday, the joint venture that supplied 39,583 laptops for public school teachers said the computer units it delivered to DepEd met all technical specifications imposed by government, competitively priced and perform according to their intended use.

Sunwest Construction and Development Corp. and LDLA Marketing & Trading, Inc. stressed that the laptops offered and delivered to DepEd were fully compliant with all technical specifications.

The two suppliers added that they also complied with the technical specifications provided by the DepEd and PS-DBM.

Meanwhile, Santiago responded to calls of some lawmakers to abolish the PS-DBM.

“We fully understand the sentiment of some groups and even by our own beloved legislators. We know where they are coming from as we share their sentiment on zero tolerance against irregularities in government transactions” Santiago said.

Santiago, however, added that these calls need to be balanced with the presence of honest and dedicated employees who have been working in the office for many years, coupled by the procurement efficiency and economy that PS-DBM provided to government agencies since 1978. 

“I believe there are a lot of people in the PS-DBM who are working honestly, with excellence, intelligence and integrity. Most of them are set apart and have dedication to their job, to the people and to our nation,” Santiago pointed out.

PS-DBM, operates a centralized procurement system for common use office supplies and equipment, and has made procurement undertakings efficient amongst agencies and offices of the government for decades.

It has also streamlined the procurement process with its Virtual Store, a centerpiece project of the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System, which has been recognized by the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.