Pimentel: Senate to probe ‘overpriced cameras’ if DepEd doesn’t

The Senate will enter the picture should the Department of Education not step up its game over the investigation of the agency’s alleged procurement of overpriced cameras, said Senator Koko Pimentel.

The Senate Minority Leader believes the chamber’s conclusion on the outdated and overpriced laptops for public school teachers should lead to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee probing other cases of overpricing.

“This time, just exchange the laptops with cameras,” Pimentel said in an online interview.

“It’s worth looking into and then if DepEd doesn’t act on it, Blue Ribbon can,” the legislator added.

Last month, the Senate’s blue ribbon panel recommended that former and current officials of the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service be charged for purchasing overpriced laptops. The panel determined that the gadgets were overpriced by P979 million.

Though Pimentel is eager to pursue the investigation on the allegedly overpriced cameras, he also suggested giving the DepEd some time to act on the overpricing report. If the DepEd fails to perform, this will force the panel to take the appropriate action, he said.

DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa said Wednesday that the agency would look into the allegation that it purchased overpriced cameras in 2019 that was more than five times their market value.

The controversy arose after activist Renato Reyes on Tuesday tweeted a Facebook post by photographer Jhun Dantes, who shared a photo of a Canon DSLR camera allegedly obtained by the DepEd with a sticker stating its cost was P155,929.

The sticker also included information about the DSLR camera’s serial number, acquisition date, and accountable officer.

Poa said the agency would have to look into the issue first before making any further comments, and that it is still unclear which cameras were compared in the now-deleted post.

Meanwhile, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines prodded DepEd, the Commission on Audit, and lawmakers to look into the latest overpricing allegation hounding the department.

Citing Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte’s pledge in her Basic Education Report 2023 to address corruption in the agency, ACT chairperson Vladimer Quetua said that the issue merits Duterte’s attention along with the many other possible controversial purchases in the department.


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