CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY--The head of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) office in Northern Mindanao denied any hand in the purchase of school materials for senior high school classes, even as he dispelled any irregularity in the bidding of razor blades that cost nearly PHP2,000 each.

DepEd-10 (Northern Mindanao) Director Allan Farnazo said his office had nothing to do with the procurement of Gillette Vector razors and other supplies needed for the Technical Vocational and Livelihood (TVL) strand of the region’s senior high school students.

The items, bought for use during the 2016-2017 school year, were to be used for the Hairdressing NC II course, Farnazo said.

According to him, the suggested retail price for a Gillette Vector razor was set at PHP2,000 by the DepEd national office. The price went down to PHP1,878 per item after a bidding was conducted, he said.

At Gillette's official store webpage on the popular online shopping site Lazada, razors of varying models are priced between PHP199 and PHP732, with extra blade refills. The Vector model is not available on the site or on any local online shop but at AliExpress, a popular Chinese online retail giant, that variant only costs USD6.25 each (PHP332 at current exchange rate).

Farnazo, however, insisted that the role of the DepEd regional office was just to facilitate the bid and ensure that the bidders comply with the requisites set by the national office. He said the price for the razor was dictated by DepEd Manila.

“The items to be procured were to be chosen from the TVL Tools and Equipment Database provided by (DepEd) Central Office, which contained the technical specifications, estimated cost (for some items) and product ID number,” Farnazo said in a press statement released on Wednesday.

Farnazo made the clarification after the principal of a public secondary school in the city complained to a radio station that the razors she received were not what she expected.

He said the principal should not have received the items if she believed that they did not comply with the specifications.

Farnazo explained that the razors were just among the several school supplies bid out based on the needs of beneficiary schools.

For that particular set of supplies worth PHP9 million, the agency declared the Davao City-based company NR Eustaquio Enterprises, Inc. (NREEI) as the winning bidder. The 13 pieces of razors, worth PHP24,414, were part of the items provided by the bidder, the DepEd-10 official said.

Prior to NREEI winning the bidding, Farnazo said they had to conduct it twice, “because not all items were quoted upon by the interested bidders in the first round of bidding, and awarded based on the lowest responsive bid.”

DepEd-10 decided to award NREEI through a negotiated contract on June 27, 2015.

Still, Farnazo said that his office has yet to pay the suppliers for the items and maintained that “no payment will be made for items that are found to be not in accordance with the required specifications.” (PNA)