Tell it to SunStar: Teachers continue to keep watch over overpriced laptops issue

By Teachers Dignity Coalition

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s finding that the laptops purchased by the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) were overpriced was expected. We were all witnesses to the panels series of investigations made public last year. The recommendation to file legal actions against some DepEd and DBM officials and even private personalities will bring this P2.4B deal to the proper forum and the officials will have a chance to prove their innocence.

At almost P60,000 each, it should prove impossible to justify the purchase of these laptops, as prices online hover at only P20,000 to P25,000, roughly a third of the winning bid. Recipients of these controversial laptops concluded that the units are not fit for the demands of our work as these are outdated. Some teachers rejected it when they read the specifications on the property acknowledgment receipt (PAR), while others returned the units to their property custodians when they found out that these laptops performed terribly. And there are also those who did not use the laptops and just bought new ones with their own money.

At least six teachers executed their affidavits and submitted those to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. Why not? Most of us continue to make painful sacrifices to find ways to purchase essential laptops, typically by borrowing money at usurious interest rates that we have to bear for several years. This makes this scandalous purchase of P2.4 billion all the more abhorrent.

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

We also agree with the recommendation to abolish PS-DBM, the two big-time anomalies—Pharmally and DepEd laptops deals are enough to put an end to this corruption-prone office. Lastly, the move to recover the almost a billion “proceeds of corruption” will be allocated to a trust fund to support the medical needs of public school teachers and the educational needs of their children through a special scholarship program is commendable as it underscored the failure of the government to ensure the health of public tutors and to provide other non-wage benefits for them.

We in TDC continue to seek an audience from the DepEd to help formulate policies and to rationalize existing protocols with the aim of preventing similar occurrences in the future from ever derailing the country’s education goals again.