MANILA - The Commission on Audit has urged the Department of Education to penalize officers over millions of pesos worth of textbooks that were either damaged by water or left undistributed.
About 820,000 grade school textbooks worth P25.2 million were damaged inside the warehouse of Lexicon Press Inc. due to its "defective inside gutter and downspouts which caused flooding", COA said in a report.
The books, which were part of a P72.1-million contract, were thrown out because of "bad odor, and for sanitation and health concerns," state auditors said.
DepEd's warehouse failed to accommodate the books because it was being refurbished, the COA said.
"The deficiency in planning was apparently a contributing factor for the loss, which can also be directly attributed to the prevalent delay in the bidding/procurement activities of DepEd," it said.
COA also found that the delivery receipt for the books were only signed by a warehouse employee, despite a DepEd order stating that deliveries should be handled by an inspectorate team with technical knowledge of the deal.
The delivery receipt signifies "final acceptance" of the books, which relieves the contractor from any obligation or liability in case of loss or damage, COA said.
INCIDENT HAPPENED IN 2015
The loss of the books, however, happened in 2015 under the previous administration, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones told radio DZMM.
She said she told state auditors in a meeting last month that her agency is studying legal measures to establish accountability over the issue.
Aside from the damaged books, auditors also discovered some 2.1 million others procured between 2013 and 2016 that remain undistributed.
Each textbook costs P27 to P50, yielding a total value between P56.8 million and P105.1 million, auditors said.
The books may "eventually result in wastage of government resources due to time obsolescence, loss, damage or deterioration of the learning materials," the COA said.
The agency urged the education department to investigate its findings and penalize officers. It also called on DepEd to exercise due diligence over procurement deliveries and revisit its guidelines in evaluating textbook buffer stocks.