Congress asked to probe reported computer, textbook scam in DepEd

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Kabataan partylist representative Terry Ridon has called on the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture to investigate the reported computer and textbook scams perpetuated by the Department of Education (DepEd) during the Arroyo administration.

Kabataan party-list rep. Terry Ridon. Photo credit: InterAksyon.com
Kabataan party-list rep. Terry Ridon. Photo credit: InterAksyon.com

Following the lead of an exclusive report from News5, Ridon filed House Resolution No. 1188 to call on Congress to conduct an inquiry in the alleged scam.

According to an exclusive report by News5 last May 28, the education department under the leadership of then DepEd secretary Jesli Lapus transacted with three companies, namely Merryland Publishing Corporation, Vicarish Publication and Trading, and Book on Wheels, to procure computers and textbooks from 2008 to 2010.

In the televised report, an unnamed informant said that the contracts entered by DepEd cost billions of pesos, with Merryland Publishing being able to grab a total of P2.8 billion in educational material contracts, Vicarish Publication a total of P1.3 billion, and Book on Wheels a total of P1 billion.

The informant in News5?s report claimed that the publishing companies overpriced the textbooks supplied to DepEd. While the said companies priced textbooks at around P200-P300, the actual cost should only be somewhere between P50 to P100 due to the cheap materials used.

DepEd also allegedly ordered overpriced computers from Merryland Publishing Corporation, with each computer set costing a total of P400,000.

?The configurations of the said computer sets were already obsolete even during that time. And no person in his right mind would procure an outdated PC set for almost half a million pesos,? Ridon said, referring to the specifications of the computer set, which has an Intel Pentium IV processor and Windows 98 operating system.

Ridon also pointed out that this is not the first time that Merryland Publishing Corporation got involved in a scam involving the procurement of overpriced computers.

?In fact, Merryland President Jessie Garcia is implicated in an ongoing case in the Sandiganbayan involving the alleged anomalous procurement of information technology packages by DepEd between 2002 to 2006 using the P25-million Priority Development Assistance Fund of former Bacolod congressman and incumbent Mayor Monico Puentevella,? Ridon said in HR 1188.

?The alleged computer and textbook scam should be duly investigated to ensure that public funds will serve the interest of students and not continue to funnel into the pockets of corrupt government officials,? Ridon added.

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