Probe purchase of ‘overpriced, outdated’ laptops; Makabayan bloc urges House

The opposition Makabayan bloc is seeking a congressional investigation into the procurement of “overpriced” and “outdated” laptops for teachers by the Department of Education (DepEd).

(DepEd/File photo)

Under House Resolution No. 189, the Makabayan bloc, composed of the Kabataan Party-list, Gabriela Women’s Party, and the ACT Teachers Party-list, wants the House of Representatives to investigate the DepEd purchase of the laptops for teachers.

The resolution filed on Monday, Aug. 8, a copy of which was sent to the media, directs the House committee on good governance to conduct the said probe, in aid of legislation.

“Teachers are especially hurt by this anomaly because while they even have to borrow money to buy a laptop for their classes, billions have been spent on this anomalous deal,” Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro said in statement.

“Habang binabarat ang lugmok sa trabahong mga guro ay ganito pa ang ginagawa sa pondong dapat na sana ay sila ang nakikinabang. Marapat talaga na maimbestigahan ang anomalyang ito (While the hardworking teachers are being shortchanged, this is being done to the funds that they should be the ones benefitting. This anomaly deserves to be investigated),” she added.

READ: Purchase of overpriced, outdated laptops ‘sad and revolting’ — teachers

Castro filed the resolution with Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas and Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel.

The Commission on Audit (COA) flagged the DepEd for buying P2.4 billion worth of reportedly overpriced outdated laptops for teachers in line with the implementation of distance learning amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to to the COA’s 2021 annual audit report, teachers’ laptops were bought by DepEd through the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service (DBM-PS).

READ: Price of laptops stated in COA report ‘best answered’ by PS-DBM, says DepEd

“Not only did the government waste the people’s money for purchasing expensive yet outdated laptops, it also deprived thousands of teachers of gadgets that could have helped them implement distance learning,” the lawmakers said.

“It is the primordial duty of the members of the House of Representatives to uphold the interests and welfare of the Filipino people against inefficiency and corrupt practices,” they added

The opposition bloc noted it was not the first time that the DBM-PS purchased overpriced items on behalf of a government agency.

The Makabayan lawmakers cited the 2020 multi-billion deals of DBM-PS with Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp. for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing kits.

“Especially amid the pandemic, economic crisis and ailing educational situation, the government should ensure the access of teachers and students to quality programs and services,” they said.