Some P4.527 billion intended for the implementation of the distance learning program – for school years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 – has been flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA) following its annual audit of the Department of Education (DepEd).
The COA noted "deficiencies" in the utilization of these funds from the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP), a P16.405-billion fund allocated by Congress to the DepEd for its implementation.
The COA flagged, among others, "lapses in budget utilization” by the regional offices of the National Capital Region (NCR) and Regions 3, 7, 8 and 13 totaling P506.315 million; “non-/incomplete submission of the required documents regarding BE-LCP” fund utilization worth P205.8 million by ROs 5, 6 and 8; and “non-/delayed submission of perfected contracts and Purchase Orders” worth P390.761 million by ROs NCR, 1, 3, 9 and 13.
The COA also pointed to P917.876-million worth of disbursements and procurements which had "inadequate supporting documents and other deficiencies", as well as the “flawed/incomplete/delayed procurement, reproduction and delivery of self-learning modules (SLMs) worth P753.88 million.
In the same audit report, COA called out the DepEd over the purchase of 39,583 laptops for public school teachers amounting P2.4 billion. The agency noted that the purchased items were "pricey" for an entry-level type of laptop, resulting in a "significant decrease in the number of units provided to intended users".
While some 68,500 units were meant to be purchased at first, ultimately "an estimated 28,917 teachers were deprived of the possible benefits from the supposed provision of these laptops", said the COA.