As it welcomed the inquiries to be made by Congress regarding the P2.4-billion laptop purchase for teachers, the Department of Education (DepEd) maintained that it was “not right” to declare the deal “anomalous.”
DepEd, in a statement issued Aug. 8, said that it is currently addressing issues regarding laptops procured by the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) for public school teachers at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“DepEd believes that this matter needs to be resolved immediately, and we submit to the process as we commit to transparency and accountability — even if the issue only involves an Audit Observation Memorandum, which requires the submission of documents to the Commission of Audit (COA),” the agency said.
House Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers’ Representative France Castro was among those who authored House Resolution No. 189 which aims to investigate, in aid of legislation, the procurement of “overpriced outdated laptops” for teachers by the DepEd through PS-DBM.
Following this, DepEd urged Castro to be “prudent in her pronouncements” on the matter.
“DepEd believes that it is not right to declare that the contract was anomalous without a final report by COA, much less findings from the Ombudsman,” the agency said.
DepEd also wanted to take exception to the statement that teachers are being short-changed as it has “always been proactive in promoting teachers' welfare over the years.”
Castro, DepEd said, “should be reminded” of the fundamental reforms that DepEd made under the administration of former President Duterte — including the Salary Standardization Law of 2019, which assured teachers of an annual salary increase; the Expanded Career Progression System for Public School Teachers, among others.
Meanwhile, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines came into Castro’s defense.
ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio, in a statement issued Aug. 9, said that the issue of alleged overpriced and outdated laptops serves as “salt to the wounds” of teachers who have been financially struggling for a very long time.
“If we refuse to call that anomalous, then we just don’t want to call spade a spade,” Basilio said, taking a swipe at DepEd’s comment on Castro regarding the controversial laptop deal.