DepEd resolution of laptop fiasco out ‘in a month’

The Department of Education on Friday disclosed that its administrative proceedings on the P2.4 billion laptop procurement may be concluded in more or less than a month, according to DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa.

However, Poa clarified that the timeframe may still be adjusted depending on the pleadings of involved parties.

“Based on the latest update given to me, we are hoping for a resolution within 20-30 days, subject to additional pleadings or motions that may be filed by the parties,” said Poa in a statement.

“As to liability, please bear with us, but let’s just wait for the resolution,” he added.

The current officials who are involved in the laptop procurement mess are DepEd Undersecretary for Finance Annalyn Sevilla and DepEd ICT Service director Abram Abanil and Poa said that Sevilla has not yet been given a preventive suspension following the administration complaints against her and other DepEd officials.

To recall, the Education department said that even before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee released its recommendations, it had already started its proceedings and requested the Commission on Audit to conduct a fraud audit against the alleged “overpriced and outdated laptops” procurement.

After around two months of the probe, the Senate committee recommended the filing of graft raps against four incumbent and former officials of the DepEd and four others from the Procurement
Service-Department of Budget Management — two have been recommended to be charged with falsification of public documents; and five current and former officials of DepEd and PS-DBM have been recommended to be charged with perjury.

It also recommended the recovery of the alleged overpricing of at least P979 million with accrued interest and damages, as well as the abolition of PS-DBM.

On Thursday, Poa said that the department will “definitely consider” the recommendation on the committee report, insisting that the current administration is keen on improving the efficiency and transparency of its procurement processes.

“Of course, DepEd will always cooperate if there will be proceedings that are going to take place. If they need documentation on the side of the DepEd, we will definitely cooperate with the process,” Poa said.

Poa reiterated that they have yet to receive the official copy of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee report.

Meanwhile, the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition lauded the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee for its recommendations to file charges against former and current DepEd officials and the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service over the overpriced purchase of laptops.

“We commend the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee headed by Sen. Francis Tolentino for its action, from investigation to this recommendation to file necessary charges against personalities who may have been involved in this anomaly,” Benjo Basas, the group’s national chairperson, said in a statement.

“Our teachers are on the watch, closely following the developments in this perplexing situation and expect that the guilty parties be put to justice,” he added.

The group also agreed with the recommendation to abolish PS-DBM, saying the two big-time anomalies — the Pharmally and DepEd laptop deals — are enough to put an end to this corruption-prone office.

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