DepEd looking into purchase of alleged overpriced cameras

Arra Perez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 02 2023 01:01 PM

MANILA — After the procurement of allegedly overpriced but outdated laptops, the Department of Education (DepEd) is once again facing a similar controversy. This time, the agency has been accused online of purchasing pricey cameras.

The agency "will check on" the social media post that claims it bought an "overpriced camera," DepEd Spokesperson Michael Poa said.

Poa said he has not determined the camera in the photo.

"Sa Public Affairs Service dito sa Central Office, wala po kaming entry level cameras. Puro Mark IV," he said In a message to reporters late Wednesday. 

"So I will have to ask the regional offices kung may mga ganitong entry level cameras na na-procure," he added.

(At the Public Affairs Service here in the Central Office, we don't have entry level cameras. We only have Mark IV cameras. So I will have to ask the regional offices if they procured entry level cameras like these.)

On Tuesday, activist Renato Reyes posted screenshots of a Facebook post by a supposed professional photographer "who inquired why [an] entry-level camera [from the DepEd] apparently costs P155,000 while a similar model sells for P23,000 in Lazada."

The photo on the post showed a DepEd sticker on the gadget, with an acquisition cost of P155,929.

"Mukhang matagal nang modus itong sa mga camera. Heto ang mga sample notices ng DepEd para sa purchase ng mga camera. Approved budget ay P500,000 para sa isang DSLR at isang camcorder," Reyes said, with screenshots of the supposed documents.

(It seems that this modus with cameras has been going on for a long time now. Here are DepEd's sample notices for the purchase of the cameras. The approved budget for a single DSLR and cam corder is at P500,000.)

"Approved budget P816k for 2 DSLR, 1 camcorder, 1 battery grip, 2 tripod and 1 condenser mic. Sample of the specs indicated. Nakakalula din ang budget na ito ano? These are previous contracts in 2019 involving the purchase of DSLR cameras. The camera in the pic worth P155k was acquired in 2022," he added.

(The approved budget for 2 DSLRs, 1 camcorder, 1 battery grip, 2 tripod and 1 condenser mic is P816,000. Sample of the specs indicated. This budget is dizzying, right?) 

Reyes also posted a document on "another request for quotation in September 2022 for a mirrorless camera with entry-level specs with an approved budget of P170k for one unit."

In response, Poa explained "that particular procurement was cancelled," based on his communication with DepEd's office in the Caraga region.

"Those cameras were initially intended for use in broadcast/livestream. Since the Regional [information and communications technology] was able to eventually provide 3 conference cameras, the procurement of said DSLRs were cancelled," Poa said.

"As to the Approved Budget of Contract, I have asked the region[al office] to provide us with the basis used in coming up with the said amount," he added.

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The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and Teachers' Dignity Coalition (TDC) have called on DepEd to investigate the matter.

In a statement, ACT Chairperson Vlademir Quetua said it was "both enraging and demoralizing for teachers to hear of such anomalies while we feel everyday the scantiness of funds for [the] education [sector] on the ground."

Quetua urged the agency to identify those involved in the supposed anomalous purchase and punish them in accordance with the law.

"It is disheartening that the agency which is supposed to inculcate honesty and judicious use of money among the young generation has been swarmed with anomalies," he said.

"Bago pa ang overpriced laptop, naging kontrobersyal na ang DepEd sa pagbili ng magagarang sasakyan, at mga hamon at keso de bola sa kasagsagan ng pandemya," he added.

(Even before the issue with the overpriced laptops, DepEd has been controversial with the purchase of exorbitant cars, and ham and keso de bola during the pandemic.)

"Ang lahat ng ito ay dapat na masuri. Nagtitiis ang mga guro sa maliit na sahod at kapos na benepisyo. Ang mga mag-aaral ay kulang sa upuan, klasrum at libro. Walang mga guidance counselors, nurses, clerical staff at guards sa paaralan. Marami pang problemang maaring banggitin, ngunit bakit tila walang habas sa paggasta ang mga nasa itaas?" said TDC National Chairperson Benjo Basas.

(All of this should be looked into. Teachers endure with their small salaries and inadequate benefits. Students have insufficient chairs, classrooms and books. We don't have guidance counselors, nurses, clerical staff and guards at school. There are still many more problems that we can mention, but why does it seem like higher officials spend excessively?)

Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte recently said the DepEd has created a separate office to focus on procurement.

— With a report from Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

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