COA hits DepEd as textbooks worth millions go to waste

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) wants Department of Education (DepEd) officials penalized over millions of pesos worth of textbooks damaged by water and textbooks left undistributed.

About 860,682 grade school books worth P25.214 million – part of a contract amounting to P72.124 million – were found to have been damaged inside the Lexicon Press warehouse "due to its defective inside gutter and downspouts which caused flooding."

The textbooks were immediately disposed of due to "bad odor and sanitation concerns." Payment was completed in November 2016. 

According to COA, the transaction was initiated ahead of a planned expansion of the education department's learning resources warehouse that could've accommodated 2.44 million books.

State auditors also found that the delivery receipt was only signed by a warehouse employee despite a DepEd order stating that an inspectorate team – composed of personnel knowledgeable on book deliveries and technicalities – should oversee the delivery. 

An inspection was important because, based on the DepEd's contract with Lexicon, "risk and title will pass from the supplier to the procuring entity upon receipt and final acceptance of the goods at their destination."

"The issued IARs (Inspection and Acceptance Reports) and Certificate of Completed Delivery signify final acceptance, therefore in effect, [relieving] the contractor [of] any obligation/liability from the contract, and thereby transferring accountability for loss or damage to the procuring entity or DepEd," COA said.

Aside from damaged books, state auditors also discovered more than 2.7 million copies of undistributed books. About 2.1 million dated back to delivered orders in 2013.

These undistributed books are worth anywhere between P56.75 million and P105 million, according to COA.

The DepEd said it was unable to distribute due to lack of funds from 2013 to 2016.

State auditors, however, said proper planning could have prevented what "may eventually result in wastage of government resources due to time obsolescence, loss, damage or deterioration."

"It is unconscionable for the department to purchase millions worth of textbooks then allowed them to remain on stock and to become obsolete due to lack of funding," COA said. "This can be attributed to inability to plan and lack of coordination of the concerned offices." –