Office of the Ombudsman

Ombudsman suspends DepEd, DBM officials tagged in overpriced laptop mess

Jairo Bolledo

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Ombudsman suspends DepEd, DBM officials tagged in overpriced laptop mess

OMBUDSMAN. File photo of the Office of the Ombudsman taken in Quezon City on June 6, 2023.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

(1st UPDATE) The Ombudsman explains that it found sufficient grounds to suspend the officials 'considering that there is strong evidence showing their guilt.' DepEd says they will abide by the order.

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman ordered the preventive suspension of some government officials tagged in the overpriced laptop scandal.

In a resolution dated August 23, but made public only on Friday, August 25, Ombudsman Samuel Martires ordered the suspension of the following, under the rules of procedure of the Ombudsman:

  • Annalyn Sevilla, Department of Education (DepEd) undersecretary
  • Alain Del Pascua, former DepEd undersecretary
  • Lloyd Christopher Lao, former Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) chief
  • Salvador Malana III, former DepEd assistant secretary
  • Abram Abanil, director of DepEd information and communications technology services; designated ad hoc member on the special bids and awards committee for the “Laptop for Teachers” project
  • Jasonmer Uayan, former PS-DBM chief
  • Ulysses Mora, PS-DBM procurement management officer
  • Marwan Amil, PS-DBM procurement management officer
  • Alec Ladanga, executive assistant at Sevilla’s office
  • Marcelo Bragado, director at DepEd’s procurement management office
  • Selwyn Briones, DepEd employee
  • Paul Armand Estrada, PS-DBM procurement management officer

The 12 officials and employees were placed under preventive suspension until the administrative process of their case is terminated. The suspension will not exceed six months, but the officials will not receive their pay during the said duration, “except when the delay in the disposition of the case is due to their fault, negligence or petition.”

The Ombudsman said the order is immediately executory.

In a statement released on Friday, DepEd said they will abide by the order of the Ombudsman. The department also gave assurances of “unhampered services” even as preparations are underway for the start of school year 2023-2024.

According to the Ombudsman, the respondents were charged with grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, gross neglect of duty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. They were involved in the procurement of “‘overpriced’ and ‘outdated’ laptop computers at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2021.”

“According to the Senate-approved report, respondents conspired to facilitate and generate an overpriced contract under the DepEd Computerization Program Capital Outlay in the amount of PhP2.4 Billion (originally intended to provide for mobile/internet load to some 3.2 million senior high school learners nationwide),” the Ombudsman resolution read.

The Office of the Ombudsman explained that it found sufficient grounds to suspend the officials “considering that there is strong evidence showing their guilt.” The office also cited the following reasons for ordering the suspensions:

  • Their continued stay in their position “may prejudice the investigation of the case filed against them.”
  • “It is imperative to preserve documents and evidence pertaining to this case which respondents have control and custody.”
  • The charges the respondents face may cause their removal from service.

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.