SENATE RECOMMENDATIONS. Department of Education spokesperson Michael Poa answers questions from the media via Zoom on Thursday (Jan. 19, 2023). Poa said the DepEd will definitely consider the recommendations made by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on its report on the alleged overpriced and outdated PHP2.4 billion laptops for teachers in 2021. (Screengrab)

MANILA – The recommendations of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will “definitely” be considered to make sure procurement process is efficient and transparent, the Department of Education (DepEd) said on Thursday.

This, as DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa said they welcomed the Senate panel report on the its inquiry on the alleged overpriced and outdated PHP2.4 billion laptops for teachers in 2021.

In a virtual media interview, Poa said the Blue Ribbon’s committee report is deemed significant to improving the DepEd’s procurement process.

“Ang DepEd naman po (The DepEd) has always said that we remain committed to transparency and accountability. And that applies specifically to the procurement process. So, we appreciate the investigation by the Blue Ribbon Committee,” he said.

The Senate panel included in its recommendations the recovery of the alleged overpriced amount; abolition of the Procurement Service-Department of Budget Management (PS-DBM); for government agencies not to delegate procurement tasks to PS-DBM; and filing of criminal and administrative charges against several incumbent and former DepEd and PS-DBM officials, among others.

According to the committee report, the contract for the supply and delivery of laptop computers for public school teachers was overpriced by at least PHP979 million.

Among the recommended criminal and administrative charges include the violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code or the Falsification of Public document by a Public Official and Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code or Perjury.

Poa said the DepEd has yet to receive a copy of the Senate’s detailed committee report.

He also said no internal executive discussions with Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte about the report have been made so far.

“The recommendations and the findings of the Blue Ribbon Committee will be definitely considered so that we could streamline and put in internal controls to ensure that our procurement process is efficient and of course, transparent,” he said.

He said the DepEd is also serious about improving its procurement process by streamlining processes and avoiding questionable transactions.

“The DepEd led by, of course, no other than the Vice President Sara Duterte, really takes procurement seriously… nailabas ‘yung procurement, gawin talagang isang strand siya. Para mayroong Usec at Asec (the procurement has been separated and made a single strand. So that it will have its own undersecretary and assistant secretary) that are both just focused on the procurements, aside from the BACs (Bids and Committees),” he said.

Poa said the Senate recommendations are beneficial and may be “adapted” to further improve DepEd’s transparency.

“Gusto talaga nating maging (We really want it to be) streamlined and more transparent ang (the) procurement process. That’s why even before the Senate blue ribbon committee report came out, as you can see, ‘pag mayroon po tayong pre-bid conference, talagang naka-livestream na po ‘yan para nakikita ng publiko (if we have a pre-bid conference, it’s live-streamed online so the public can see),” he added.

Poa, meanwhile, said the DepEd earlier sent its request for a fraud audit to the Commission on Audit and is now waiting for its result.

The DepEd’s administrative proceedings on the signing authorities are also ongoing, particularly on the modification of laptop specifications. (PNA)