Public school teachers on Thursday, Aug. 11, trooped to the office of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in Manila to “demand accountability” for the controversial deal involving the purchase of “overpriced yet outdated” laptops for the teachers of the Department of Education (DepEd).
Members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines held a picket protest at the DBM since its Procurement Service (PS) was the procuring entity for the deal amounting to P2.4 billion.
Based on the 2021 report of the Commission on Audit (COA), the purchase of “overpriced” laptops “deprived” thousands of teachers of much-needed devices for distance learning.
ACT Philippine spokesperson Ruby Anna Bernardo urged the PS-DBM to “end its silence” regarding the procurement of alleged “overpriced and outdated” DepEd laptops.
“They should explain how laptops with Celeron processors could cost the government P58,000 each,” Bernardo said. “We cannot think of any acceptable and plausible justification for this anomalous deal,” she explained.
ACT held the protest to show their “utter disgust” with the contract made under their names “while we struggle everyday to pay for our loan-acquired laptops or struggle to perform our duties using outdated ones that DepEd procured through the PS-DBM.”
“We will not relent in demanding that truth be known and justice be served on this highly irregular deal,” she said.
Meanwhile, the group found DepEd’s latest pronouncement to address the situation by doing a “quick fix” on slow-performing laptops or demand for replacements through the warranty provision “unsatisfactory.”
“The problem is not only that the laptops are outdated but the government paid P58,000 each for such pathetic devices. Why is that so? How did that happen? That is what we want to know and we want those liable to account,” Bernardo said.
Likewise, ACT also slammed former Education Secretary Leonor Briones for her “quick refusal” to take responsibility for the issue.
“We have heard of the same stance from the DepEd since the start, deflecting the heat and simply passing the buck to PS-DBM,” Bernardo said. “For once, we call on them to get past themselves and think of our teachers and learners who suffered while funds were being misused,” she added.
Amid the controversies that hound the laptop deal, ACT reiterated its demand for the government to give teachers the support they need for education delivery.
“What is the government's plan in providing all our teachers with this essential tool for teaching?,” Bernardo, noting that the government should provide laptops for all teachers.