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Makabayan bloc seeks probe on DepEd laptops being sold online, in shops

Makabayan bloc lawmakers sought a legislative inquiry into the reported surplus store and online marketplace “fire sale” of laptops procured for teachers by the Department of Education (DepEd).

ACT Teachers Partylist representative France Castro, Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan Partylist Representative Raoul Manuel made the call in House Resolution No. 950 directing the Committee on Good Government and Public Accounts to investigate how the laptops procured for teachers ended up in Facebook Marketplace and surplus stores in Cebu and Rizal.

The resolution stated that teachers nationwide had reported that they did not receive the laptops procured by the DepEd under the DepEd Computerization Program (DCP) from 2021 to 2022.

“Due to the non-delivery of these procured laptops, teachers were forced to shell out from their own pockets and meager salaries the buying of the laptops to cope with the online or blended learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many teachers resorted to taking out loans just to buy their own laptops, loans for which, until now, they are still paying,” the resolution read.

The solons also said that the DepEd Central Visayas office investigated and discovered at least 100 laptops were sold in a surplus store in Cebu following the initial revelations made by citizens online on October 2022.

"Mahalaga na maimbestigahan ito dahil kailangang-kailangan ng mga guro ang laptop sa ngayon. Nabudol na nga sila sa mga overpriced laptops na ito tapos pinarecall at ngayon naman ay pinagkakakitaan pa ng mga tiwali sa DepEd," Castro said in a separate statement.

(It is important that this be investigated because teachers are in dire need of laptops. They have been overwhelmed by these overpriced laptops, and then they were recalled. Now DepEd officials are keeping these laptops from teachers.)

"We hope that the House investigation on this issue would be expedited and those responsible should be held accountable," she added.

GMA News Online sought comment from the DepEd, but Education officials have yet to reply as of this posting.

Last January, a Senate panel recommended graft and perjury charges against some former and current officials of the DepEd and the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service (PS-DBM) over the "highly irregular" laptop procurement project in 2021.

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

In its 2021 annual audit report, the Commission on Audit flagged DepEd for purchasing more expensive laptops than the ones indicated in their budget, which resulted in the procurement of fewer units, depriving over 28,000 teachers of the benefit.

Earlier, DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa said the agency would cooperate with any proceedings and they would provide documentation as needed.

Poa likewise said that the department would “look closely” into the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon panel in a bid to strengthen its procurement process following the controversial laptop procurement. — DVM, GMA Integrated News