House leader seeks probe into laptop purchase by Education dept

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House Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera on Wednesday sought a congressional investigation into the questionable bidding process on the procurement of 39,000 laptop computers for the Department of Education (DepEd).

Herrera said the government stands to lose around P167 million from the project that could be used elsewhere especially during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Herrera questioned why the contract for the supply and delivery of laptop computers for public school teachers is set to be awarded not to the lowest bidder, which is contrary to the mandate of Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

“We received information that the contract was practically secured by the second-lowest bidder at almost P2.3 billion, which is P167 million higher than the bid of the lowest bidder,” Herrera said in a statement. “This is quite alarming and unacceptable.”

She noted that the price difference was due to the laptop bag and not the laptop computer itself.

“Why is the basis for awarding the contract to purchase laptop computers for our public school teachers the laptop bag and not the specs of the laptop itself? [The price increased] Just because of the laptop bag?,” Herrera said partly in Filipino.

What made the matter worse, Herrera said, was the lowest bidder got a post-disqualification notice for allegedly not complying with the requirements, including the required specification for the carrying bag.

The DepEd’s material requirement for the bags was ballistic nylon but the lowest bidder submitted as a sample a bag made from 100 percent polyester.

The bags worth P167 million in total are more important than the specs of a computer. Isn’t there something wrong with this?,” Herrera said in Filipino.

She said Congress must do something to prevent the government from getting shortchanged in procurement projects using public funds.

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