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Senate adopts panel report on ‘overpriced’ DepEd laptops

The Senate on Tuesday adopted the Blue Ribbon committee report on the supposedly overpriced laptops procured by the Department of Education (DepEd).

The majority of the senators voted for the approval of the report, with only Senator Jinggoy Estrada voting against the adoption.

"As much as I really want to be consistent as I had a dissenting opinion with regard to the committee report of our good friend here, Senator Francis Tolentino, I would like to register my vote as 'no,'" Estrada said.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III also manifested that he has filed a separate opinion to the committee report.

He said he will no longer introduce amendments as long as his separate opinion is attached to the main report.

Tolentino assured the minority leader that he will include Pimentel's opinion in the committee report.

In January, Tolentino sponsored Committee Report No. 19, which found that the 2021 DepEd Laptop for Teachers Procurement Project was overpriced by at least P979 million.

The Blue Ribbon panel also recommended graft and perjury charges against former and current officials of DepEd and the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service (PS-DBM).

The other recommendations included in the report are:

  • Abolition of PS-DBM
  • Requiring government departments, agencies, offices, including the government-owned and controlled corporations, state universities and colleges and local government units to conduct their own procurement as an exercise of fiduciary duty to be accountable for public funds appropriated for their respective offices
  • Amending the Government Procurement Reform Act to provide for transparency and accountability requirements for joint venture entities or arrangements participating in public biddings and to provide for transparency and accountability safeguards during the planning and pre-bidding stages of public procurement, including but not limited to the setting of the Approved Budget for the Contract and technical specifications or goods, services or infrastructure to be procured
  • Immediate conduct of a Special Fraud Audit by the Commission on Audit
  • An investigation by the Anti-Money Laundering Council on the overpriced procurement, including an inquiry into bank deposits of the public officials identified in the investigation
  • Special Tax Compliance Audit or a tax fraud audit inquiry to determine whether the proper taxes were paid on the income of the Joint Venture consortium partners

— BM, GMA Integrated News