INCONCLUSIVE. Education spokesperson Michael Poa joins the press briefing and gives updates on the education sector on Thursday (Aug. 4, 2022) at the Department of Education central office in Pasig City. He said the Audit Observation Memorandum from the Commission on Audit is not conclusive, but also assured that they have been working with the agency to comply with any additional documentary requirements. (PNA Photo/ Joseph Razon)

MANILA – The Department of Education (DepEd) said Thursday it has provided necessary documentary requirements in response to the Commission on Audit's (COA) flagged implementation of distance learning procurement last 2021, particularly on the PHP2.4-billion worth of allegedly "pricey yet outdated" laptops for teachers.

In a joint press briefing, Education spokesperson Michael Poa said they have responded to the Audit Observation Memorandum (AOM), which he insisted is something that is not “conclusive.”

“We are aware that some time on March 22, the DepEd was in receipt of an audit observation (memorandum), AOM, issued by COA. What I know is we have already submitted the documentary requirements na hinihingi po nila (that they were asking). We're just waiting for feedback from COA, because 'yung AOM, finding lang naman po 'yan (that’s only a finding), it doesn't mean that it's conclusive,” he said.

According to the annual audit, 28,917 teachers were “deprived” of benefitting from the laptop procurement, since the purchased units amounted to PHP58,300 each; while those who have availed have experienced slow laptop speed, due to its “outdated processor.”

“The Audit Team could not ascertain the DBM-PS' basis for adopting the unit price of P58,300. Apparently, the supposed number of laptops to be procured of 68,500 units was significantly reduced to 39,583 units which was mainly due to the huge increase of estimated cost from P35,046 to P58,300 anchored on the DBM-PS' recommendation, which was duly accepted by the DepEd," the COA earlier said.

Poa said they are willing to work with COA to provide needed responses, as well as check all other matters on the distance learning implementation.

"Definitely, we will look into what really happened then, according to the comments or responses given by the DepEd, as a whole, there were several instances wherein there were delays in procurement because of the surges last year. You know it. We were there (in that situation) last year. Omicron variant. So we will look into it… we'll see what’s the final determination of COA. We will always work with COA po, for the improvement of processes here in DepEd," he said in mixed English and Filipino. (PNA)