VP Sara should rid DepEd of crooks, misfits

Briones has been relatively quiet about this scandalous anomaly, even though she has a lot of explaining to do, because the outdated but overpriced laptops were acquired during her term.

September 14, 2022

Vice President Sara Z. Duterte inherited a lot of problems in the Department of Education. As the concurrent Secretary of Education, VP Sara not only has to manage the DepEd in the unchartered post-pandemic scenario; she has to clean up the DepEd itself.

DepEd’s tarnished image is the fault of former Education Secretaries Leonor Briones, an incompetent administrator, and Armin Luistro, an equally inept bureaucrat.

During the time of both Briones and Luistro, the DepEd wasted billions of pesos of taxpayers’ money on the infamous “sick books” published by the DepEd and distributed to unsuspecting students of public schools in the country.

The “sick books” are textbooks which contain grossly erroneous information on Science, Mathematics, History, General Information, and the Arts. They also contain endless grammatical and typographical errors.

In fine, the “sick books” contain so much disinformation, public school pupils are actually better off without reading them.

Veteran public interest crusader Antonio Calipjo Go has repeatedly scored Briones and Luistro for the “sick books,” but the two bungling DepEd bureaucrats simply dismissed Go as a mere troublemaker.

Parents have likewise called the attention of Briones and Luistro to the “sick books” anomaly, but the two inutile administrators ignored the complaints.

Obviously, the “sick books” anomaly could have been avoided if Briones and Luistro required their minions in the DepEd to edit the publications more thoroughly.

If Briones and Luistro had children who must use those “sick books,” they would have most likely ordered their stooges in the DepEd to undertake a more careful review of those “sick books.”

Observers suspect that Briones and Luistro couldn’t care less about the “sick books,” because it’s not their money that was being wasted on the useless publications.

During Briones’ watch as DepEd head, school opening was always a mess, and school publications of the DepEd, including Briones’ and Luistro’s “sickbooks,” were often distributed much too late in the semester.

Probably out of respect for an outgoing DepEd chief, VP Sara Duterte, as DepEd Secretary, retained the blundering Briones as a consultant in the Department. VP Duterte may not realize it yet but, with Briones still very much around in the DepEd, her loyal underlings in the department are bound to conceal anomalies from Duterte.

Take for example the recent irregularity concerning 39,600 laptops purchased by the DepEd, apparently during Briones’ time, for use by selected public school teachers in the country. The laptops are not only outdated; their acquisition cost is a whopping P2.4 billion, which is 66 percent more than the actual budget set for the purchase.

With P2.4 billion of public money obviously misused, to say that the laptops are overpriced is describing the anomaly mildly.

When news of the anomaly became public and the Senate started its inquiry, DepEd officials during the Briones administration responsible for the purchase blamed the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management. Soon thereafter, the DepEd officials began blaming each other for the anomalous purchase.

So far, Briones has been relatively quiet about this scandalous anomaly, even though she has a lot of explaining to do, because the outdated but overpriced laptops were acquired during her term as DepEd Secretary.

The supplier concerned should also be summoned by the Senate and made to identify who in the DepEd are among those behind this large scale fraud perpetuated against the people.

Taxpayers will be awaiting the outcome of the Senate investigation. With so much public money wasted, heads should roll in the DepEd.

Meanwhile, VP and DepEd Secretary Duterte can start the clean up in the DepEd by firing Briones once and for all. The undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and bureau directors who are connected to the “sick books” anomaly should likewise be fired and made to face criminal prosecution as well as administrative raps.

It is very likely that the DepEd bureaucrats responsible for the “sick books” are also involved in the laptop anomaly.

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