DepEd: Documents to answer COA findings on overpriced laptops submitted

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 4) — The Department of Education (DepEd) is now waiting for the Commission on Audit's (COA) response to documents submitted to answer the latter's findings about alleged overpriced laptops.

"We are aware that sometime in March 2022 the DepEd was in receipt of an audit observation issued by COA. What I know is we have already submitted yung mga [the] documentary requirements na hinihingi nila [ they are asking for]. So we are just awaiing feedback rin from COA," Spokesperson Michael Poa said at a briefing on Thursday.

Poa added that the Audit Observation Memoranda containing the information were just findings and did not mean that they were conclusive.

The COA said teachers' laptops purchased through the Department of Budget and Management's Procurement Service (DBM-PS) were "pricey for entry-level type laptops."

In their recommendation, the COA said DepEd should explain why the laptops cost over ₱P58,000 each when the estimated price approved was only ₱35,046.50. The total cost of the laptops was ₱2.4 billion.

COA said based on financial statements of the DepEd Central Office by the end of last year the amount was not liquidated because supporting documents were not submitted by DBM-PS.

COA further noted that the cost of the laptops "resulted in the significant decrease in the number of units provided to intended users" — from the original 68,500 units to just 39,583. It added feedback gathered from the National Capital Region and the Cordilelra Administrative Region said the laptops with old processors were slow.

Poa did not elaborate on what explanation was included in the documents submitted to state auditors, but said they would continue to work with COA.

Meanwhile, DepEd said they have submitted their proposed budget to the DBM.

"Yung actual budget na hihingin ng Department of Education for 2023 is ₱848 billion. Pinasa na po namin ito sa DBM for their clearance. Yung DBM, medyo binaba yung budget to ₱701 billion, although we are standing firm on our proposal kasi kailangan talaga namin yun. So we will make our arguments in Congress when the time comes," said Poa.

[Translation: The actual budget we're asking for the Department of Education for 2023 is P848 billion. We've submitted this to the DBM for their clearance. The DBM has slightly lowered the budget to P701 billion, although we are standing firm on our proposal because we truly need it. So we will make our arguments in Congress when time comes.]