MANILA, Philippines – An official from the Department of Education (DepEd) said on Thursday, September 15, that the procurement of P2.4-billion worth of “overpriced and outdated” laptops was defective because it proceeded without the prerequisite documents.
During the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the DepEd’s laptop mess, former procurement director Marcelo Bragado Jr. said that the memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the DepEd and Procurement Service – Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) was only signed on May 28, 2021.
Bragado’s claim was contrary to earlier statements of other DepEd officials, as well as PS-DBM former officer-in-charge executive director Jasonmer Uayan, who said that the MOA was completed on February 16, 2021.
Senators said that because of Bragado’s statement it was possible the deal between the DepEd and PS-DBM on the purchase of laptops was flawed.
“At that time, there was no MOA? In spite of the fact that we’ve been discussing this for the last two meetings, we thought, there was MOA signed as early as February 16. Is that what you’re saying? Still no MOA?” asked Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel.
“In effect, this whole procurement is defective. There’s no legal basis. We spent P2.4 billion without a MOA. They asked for quotation and filed invitation to bid without a MOA. Is that an accurate description, Atty. Bragado?” Senator Sherwin Gatchalian asked.
In response, Bragao said, “It would appear, your honor, that you are correct. Because based on the documents I have and my personal recollection, I have the MOA signed only last May 28, 2021.”
PS-DBM’s Uayan, however, said Bragado’s claim was inaccurate.
“That is not entirely accurate. If you can check closely, I think it was also him (Bragado) who endorsed to our office the notarized document which was dated February 16, 2021,” Uayan said.
Bragado replied, “it appears that it is antedated because in my personal view and professional knowledge, I was the one who was requesting for the signatures of the MOA.”
Education Undersecretary for Finance Annalyn Sevilla defended the legality of the agreement. She said that her office had the documents which showed that the MOA was signed February 16.
“We will even submit the official receipt of the notarial services made by the office of Director (Marcelo) Bragado because this was reimbursed in the accounting office,” she said.
Again Bragado countered Sevilla’s claim, saying that he had no idea about the notarization and that his or Sevilla’s staff may have been the one who had the MOA notarized.
Bragado was given immunity from the Senate blue ribbon committee to testify on the messy laptop procurement.
Why this matters
Teachers have been asking for provision of free laptops and internet services because most of them had to dig into their own pockets to cover the costs of teaching under the remote learning setup prevailing during the pandemic lockdowns.
The task of procuring these laptops on behalf of DepEd fell on PS-DBM.
PS-DBM was created through Letter of Instruction (LOI) No. 755 in 1978, with the primary task of implementing the central procurement system for the use of other government agencies. It function as a grocery for common-use items, so that agencies could buy these from them at a low price without having to look for suppliers themselves.
It can be recalled that it was also the PS-DBM which was embroiled in the corruption controversy for anomalous multi-million peso government pandemic contracts. (READ: LIST: Everything you need to know about the Pharmally pandemic deals scandal)
Examples of common-use supplies are paper, ballpens, and ink cartridges. Items such as midrange desktops, laptops, and even USB flash drives are also part of PS’ virtual store. – Rappler.com