Blue Ribbon panel should not excuse Ex-PS-DBM OIC Lao from laptop hearings –Pimentel


The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee should not excuse former Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service (PS-DBM) officer-in-charge Christopher Lloyd Lao from the hearings on the reported "outdated and pricey" Department of Education (DepEd) laptops, said Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III.

"'Yung request niya to be excused from the hearings hindi dapat pagbigyan 'yon, dahil sa MOA-- memorandum of agreement. Ang nakapirma on behalf of PS-DBM eh si Christopher Lloyd Lao pa rin," Pimentel said during Friday's virtual interview with reporters.

"So napaka-aga pa na sabihin niya na 'wag na siya mag-attend ng hearing dahil wala siyang kinalaman sa transaksyon kasi meron eh. Sa MOA andoon eh. So wala munang off the hook, wala munang excused from the hearings," he added.

During the Blue Ribbon hearing Thursday, Lao asked to be excused from the investigation, saying he was no longer the PS-DBM executive director when the laptops were procured.

But Committee Chairman Francis Tolentino said Lao had signed laptop procurement documents.

At the hearing, it was revealed that the DepEd and the PS-DBM had signed a hastily drafted memorandum of agreement


for the laptop procurement.

The signatories of the MOA are Lao and Education Secretary Leonor Briones as witnessed by former DepEd Assistant Secretary for Procurement and Administration Atty. Salvador Malana III and former PS-DBM Executive Director Jasonmer Uayan.

With the investigation continuing, Pimentel said no one is off the hook, including former Education Secretary Briones and other officials involved in the laptop procurement.

"Wala pong off the hook kasi umpisa pa lang tayo e. Di ba ang ginawa ni Chairman Tolentino step by step or stages. Nandon pa siya sa pre-bidding stage, so wala pang off the hook kasi nga ang layo pa natin sa katapusan ng hearing natin. Malayong-malayo pa po. So no one is off the hook," Pimentel said.

The minority leader said he sees two or three more hearings on the purchased laptops.

In its annual audit report on the DepEd for 2021, the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged the DepEd's purchase of laptops for teachers to implement distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COA said the purchase of the more expensive laptops compared to the ones specified resulted in the procurement of fewer units, depriving over 28,000 teachers of the benefit. — DVM, GMA News