Friday, March 1, 2024

Senate ends probe on ‘overpriced’ laptops; uncovers cost per unit only P26,000

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee concluded on Thursday, Oct. 20, its final hearing on the alleged P2.4 billion “overpriced” and “outdated” laptops of the Department of Education purchased through the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM).

Sen. Francis Tolentino
Photo from Senate

The chairperson of the Blue Ribbon, Sen. Francis Tolentino, revealed that the documents uncovered by the committee indicates that the price per unit of the procured laptops were actually only priced at around P26,000, inclusive of taxes, fees, and other charges.

It may be recalled that the cost per unit of the laptops procured through the PS-DBM was P58,300, revealing that the purchased laptops were more than P30,000 above the discovered original price.

Before the end of the hearing, the Commission on Audit (COA) presented its significant audit findings that the price per unit of the purchased laptops supposedly for the use of public school teachers increased by more than 100 percent.

The panel also discovered that there are 1,6778 laptops that remained undistributed and just stored in a warehouse.

“So ibig sabihin, 1,678 teachers should have benefitted. And per teacher, lagyan natin ng times 30 students… 48,000 students should have benefitted. Sayang, sayang,” Tolentino said.

In a press conference that followed, Tolentino said that there may be a conspiracy among the key persons involved in the procurement.

Yung conspiracy angle is still there. So hindi ko masabi kung ano ano yung role nung mga conspirators pero kung nanood kayo simula kaninang umaga, more or less nakuha niyo yon,” he said.

The lawmaker also announced that the public should await the release of the committee report around November.

Following his announcement the day before in the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum, Tolentino said that the resource persons and witnesses would be given the opportunity to explain their side and rebut allegations and facts presented before the panel via a submission of a memorandum within 15 days with the assistance of their own legal counsel.

Yung memorandum ay parang pagkakataon doon sa mga hindi nabigyan nang pagkakataon mag-salita, ipaliwanag yung kanilang side, at i-rebut naman, i-contradict yung nag-didiin sakanila para may pagkakataon silang mabigyan ng panahon na ma-air yung kanilang side kasi baka sabihin nila, hindi naman kami binigyan ng pagkakataon mag salita. Binibigyan namin kayo ng pagkakataong sabihin yung gusto niyong sabihin sa papamagitan ng memorandum na ginawa at assisted kayo ng inyong abogdao. [This is] verified — ibig sabihin under oath,” the senator said.

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