Probe ‘overpriced’ laptop, Senate urged

A resolution has been filed seeking a Senate Blue Ribbon investigation on the purchase of “overpriced and obsolete” laptops by the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget Management (PS-DBM) for distribution to public school teachers.

Senate Resolution 120 cited the need to safeguard and ensure the proper utilization of the billions of pesos of taxpayers’ money that government spends.

“Spending this huge amount entails a tremendous responsibility on the part of the government because of the public trust involved,” Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, the author of the resolution, said.

“Citizens, as taxpayers, have the right to expect that their government will spend these funds wisely and honestly, getting the best value for their money,” he added.

The lawmaker said both the DBM and the Department of Education (DepEd) should explain the basis for the procurement of the supposedly entry-level laptops at nearly P60,000 each. Last week, the Commission on Audit (CoA) flagged the procurement of 39,583 laptops for public school teachers, amounting to P2.4 billion.

“The adjustments made thereof resulted in pricey computer laptops with low-end processors which adversely decreased the number of intended beneficiaries from 68,500 to 39,583 public school teachers,” CoA said in an audit of DepEd.

The procurement of the laptops was made in 2021 during the stint of former Education secretary Leonor Briones.

Meanwhile, the joint venture that supplied the laptops said the units it delivered to the DepEd had met all of the technical specifications imposed by the government, and that they were competitively priced for the performance expected according to their intended use.

In a statement, Sunwest Construction and Development Corp. and LDLA Marketing and Trading Inc. stressed that the laptops were fully compliant with all technical specifications provided by the DepEd and DBM.

“The PS-DBM solicited bids for the supply and delivery of laptop computers with very specific technical requirements. As qualified bidders, we made an offer and won the comprehensive and competitive bidding fair and square. As of early this year, all units have been delivered to Deped regional offices throughout the Philippines,” the group said.

It added that the costing included the price per unit, the peripherals, software, and assured comprehensive grade durability backed by a 36-month warranty and technical support. Likewise, the price reflected the customization of the units as required by the DepEd.

“The public should also note that the Dell Latitude 3420 laptops delivered to the government were custom-built direct from the factory and according to the requirements needed by DepEd and therefore cannot be easily equated to a regular off-the-shelf consumer unit. It is inaccurate and unfair to say that the offered price is for the laptops alone,” the group added.

and Raadee Sausa

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