Capitol-funded school supplies, history books sold in junk shop

Rona Joyce T. Fernandez
SCHOOL supplies and local history books spent for by the Cebu Provincial Government ended up in a junk shop and not in the intended beneficiaries, the public elementary schools.Someone working in the Provincial

SCHOOL supplies and local history books spent for by the Cebu Provincial Government ended up in a junk shop and not in the intended beneficiaries, the public elementary schools.

Someone working in the Provincial General Services Office (PGSO) had sold 800 sets of school supplies and 100 copies of history books about the towns and cities of Cebu, to a junk shop in Barangay Canduman, Mandaue City.

How did the school supplies and books, all in good condition, end up in a junk shop?

PGSO employee

PGSO officer-in-charge Bernard Calderon said Tuesday, July 9, 2019 that a member of the PGSO staff had sold the items.

The PGSO employee has been in government service for nearly 30 years and holds a plantilla position at Capitol, Calderon said.

He was detailed at Hope Center, a PGSO warehouse located along Archbishop Reyes Ave., Cebu City.

The sets of school supplies and books were the last items stored in the warehouse before these were sold for junk.

The disposal was unauthorized. The school supplies should have been distributed to public schools when classes opened last June, Calderon said.

The books, on the other hand, should have been either displayed at the Capitol’s mini library or distributed to towns and cities, including the highly urbanized cities of Cebu and Lapu-Lapu.

Local school board

Calderon said that in the initial investigation, the PGSO employee “implicated” another member of the distribution committee of the local school board but later retracted his statement and said he had acted of his own volition.

PGSO records showed that on May 7, 2018, Capitol bid out P14,988,885.80 worth of school supplies for elementary school students. The project was placed under the local school board.

At the start of a school year, students from Grades 1 to 6 are each given a set of school supplies composed of a plastic envelope, a pad of paper, a notebook and a pencil.

But some 200 sets for Grade 3 pupils and 593 sets for Grade 4 pupils were found idle at Hope Center last week. These school supplies have a combined value of P34,000.

The PGSO employee had sold the school supplies as junk for P4,000 or P1 per kilo. He had received the payment before Capitol found out and could get the items back.

As for the history books, these were part of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s project initiated in 2007 to keep a written text of the history of each town and city of Cebu.

This was during the second of her three terms as governor before she moved on to become House representative of Cebu’s third district in 2013.

Capitol had commissioned the University of San Carlos (USC) Cebuano Studies Center to write the history of 53 local governments, including the cities of Cebu and Lapu-Lapu, Cebu Province and the Provincial Capitol.

The tome collection cost P11 million. Each local government unit was to receive 200 copies of their history book.

Tipoff

But 100 copies of different history books ended up in the Capitol warehouse and later sold for junk.

Calderon said his office found out about this when someone sent photos of the books and school supplies in a junk shop last Friday, July 5.

Calderon said there was no official order to dispose of the school supplies and books, and the PGSO employee took it upon himself to dispose of them.

Calderon said the PGSO employee had told him that someone had instructed him to clean out the warehouse.

The PGSO employee used the word “ipalimpyo,” which is to be understood as “clean it out,” Calderon said.

Calderon said every item that goes out of the warehouse should have a pullout order from the PGSO. The pullout order is to be presented to the guard before the item is released.

Actions taken

The Capitol committee on discipline and investigation is looking into the matter, he said.

Pending investigation, the PGSO employee concerned has been pulled from his post and is on “floating status.”

The books and school supplies will be distributed to those for which these were intended, Calderon said.

Because of the discovery, the PGSO inspected and inventoried all Capitol-owned properties.

Calderon said this led them to discover Tuesday morning, July 9, piles of first aid kits, donated notebooks, hospital beds, and Capitol-issued notebooks dating from 2017 dumped at the Cebu International Convention Center.

Many are in good condition and still usable, he said. (RTF)