A great disservice to teachers. This is how Senator Win Gatchalian described the Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management’s (PS-DBM) purchase of outdated and overpriced laptops, which ended up depriving teachers of much-needed equipment for teaching amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
In its 2021 report on the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged that teachers’ laptops purchased through the PS-DBM are pricey for an entry-level type of laptop, “resulting in significant decrease in the number of units provided to intended users.” The DepEd’s budget for the laptops was P2.4 billion, which was sourced from the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Republic Act No.11494) or Bayanihan 2.
State auditors took note that under the DepEd’s Agency Procurement Request (APR), the price per laptop was P35,046.50. The PS-DBM approved budget for the contract (ABC), however, was P58,300 per laptop. The COA also said that it could not ascertain PS-DBM’s basis for adopting the P58,300 in its ABC, which the DepEd duly accepted.
Because of the increased cost estimate from DepEd’s APR of P35,046.50 to P58,300 based on the PS-DBM’s recommendation, the supposed number of laptop units to be procured decreased from 68,500 to 39,583. This deprived 28,917 teachers of the possible benefits from the supposed provision of these laptops.
The COA also flagged that the price of the delivered laptop computers is too high, but they are too slow because the processor is Intel Celeron, which is outdated.
“Ang ating mga guro ang lubhang naaapektuhan dahil hindi tiniyak ng PS-DBM ang tamang presyo at kalidad ng mga laptop na kanilang binili para magamit sana ng ating mga guro. Nakakabahalang hindi nagamit nang tama ang pera ng taong-bayan para sa ating mga gurong nagsisilbing frontliners sa pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon,” said Gatchalian.
Gatchalian last year called for the abolition of the PS-DBM. He noted that agencies had a bad habit of transferring funds to the PS-DBM so they would not be marked for low utilization or for not using their budget.