PS-DBM to examine procurement of 'pricey, outdated' laptops for DepEd

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 8) — The new chief of the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) plans to scrutinize the cost and technical specifications of the laptops procured for the Department of Education during the Duterte administration, which were flagged by the Commission on Audit as "pricey."

The COA is seeking an explanation why the entry-level laptops for public school teachers purchased through PS-DBM cost over P58,000 each when the estimated price approved was only at P35,046.50. It also asked DepEd to explain why it accepted PS-DBM's proposal.

PS-DBM Executive Director Dennis Santiago said they will fully cooperate to address COA's findings regarding the P2.4 billion procurement.

"Should the records prove that there are indeed instances of non-compliance with the law and procurement rules, rest assured that we will never tolerate it," he said in a statement on Sunday.

DepEd earlier passed the buck to PS-DBM, saying it is the agency that can best respond to the points raised by the COA.

Santiago said he will ensure that the processes of PS-DBM will be transparent and competitive under his watch.

State auditors earlier said the cost of the pricey laptops resulted in fewer units for distribution to public school teachers — from the original 68,500 units to only 39,583 because of the higher cost.

"The huge difference of P23,253.50 per unit price resulted in significant decrease by 28,917 laptop computers, purportedly for distribution to intended recipient-teachers which could have helped them in performing their tasks in the blended learning set-up," the 2021 COA report read.

It added that the feedback gathered from the National Capital Region and the Cordillera Administrative Region was that the laptops given to teachers were slow because it still used an "outdated" Intel Celeron processor.

The Makabayan bloc is also seeking a congressional probe into the issue.

It filed House Resolution 189 on Monday for the Committee on Good Governance to investigate the procurement process.