MANILA, Aug 25 (Mabuhay) –“Anyare?”

This was the question Senator Alan Peter Cayetano asked on Thursday during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the purchase of allegedly overpriced laptops by the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM).

In his opening statement, Cayetano said the DepEd and the PS-DBM “have a lot of explaining to do” since Filipinos are already having a hard time due to the pandemic without having to contend with the anomalous purchase of laptops.

“Sa DepEd family at sa DBM, please explain today, and I’ll start with the question: Ano nangyari? Anyare?”

Cayetano also noted that members of Congress worked hard to pass the Bayanihan to Recover as One (Bayanihan II) Act so that, among others, the laptops could be given within three months.

“Ilang araw naming tinrabaho ang Bayanihan II, grabe po ang trabaho namin dyan at in-assure kami na in three months kaya ‘yang bilhin, ipamimigay agad para sa 2021 at 2022 budget meron na tayong ilalagay na laptop o tablet para sa mga bata. Pero end of 2021 hindi pa rin nadidistribute ito,” he said.

“We were assured that the laptops will be delivered in three months. How come at the end of 2021, the laptops were not yet delivered? Anyare? Anyare? Anyare?” he added.

The Senator said he wants to hold the entire Department accountable. “I’m not talking about one person or the Secretary here. I’m talking about the Department, the USec, the Asec, the Director, y’ung head niyo ng finance. Bakit hindi niyo binid at binilisan?” Cayetano said.

He said while it was the DBM that conducted the bidding and the procurement, it was the DepEd that received the laptops without duly questioning the price and specifications of the units.

“[The DepEd officials] spoke too soon in saying na DBM-PS lang ‘yan, because according to COA, pumayag ang DepEd sa P58,000,” he said. “Meron naman po kayong BAC (Bids and Awards Committee), bakit naman po lahat pinapasan sa DBM-PS at anong nangyari?” he added.

He said the anomalous procurement hindered the possibility of having a big allocation for the information technology equipment for students and teachers in the 2023 budget.

“So instead of 2021 [budget] and 2022 [budget], and two days ago 2023 budget, instead na ‘yan ay may napakalaking pondo para sa tablet at laptop sa estudyante, sa Alternative Learning System, at sa teachers, because the experiment that we put in Bayanihan II ay hindi tinutukan at tinapon sa DMB-PS at nagkanda-loko-loko ang presyo,” Cayetano said.

“Ngayon lang ako nakakita na P45,000 y’ung mid range (laptop) but P58,000 y’ung entry level […] Walang papeles kung bakit iniba ng DBM-PS y’ung recommendation. Kung iibahin mo y’ung presyo, dapat sabihin mo bakit tumaas ang presyo. Pero ang question, bakit in-approve din ng DepEd?” he added.

“Sobra na po ang pagluluksa ng ating mga kababayan sa COVID, sa taas ng presyo, sa mga problema […] Y’ung buhay ng ating mga kababayan ay apektado nitong lahat,”

“My hope after this hearing, ‘wag naman sanang maulit pa sa ibang departamento ito para bumalik naman ang tiwala ng tao sa ating gobyerno.” (MNS)