DepEd says payment released to TV production firm embroiled in salary issue

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 11 2021 01:29 PM | Updated as of Mar 11 2021 02:03 PM

MANILA – A Department of Education (DepEd) official said the agency has released partial payment to the firm that produces episodes for its TV-based mode of instruction, which has been criticized for allegedly being unable to pay the salaries of its current and former workers for months.

DepEd Information and Communication Technology Services Director Abram Abanil said the department released last Monday P9 million as payment to Ei2 Tech Inc., which is run by television host Paolo Bediones.

Since December, several workers of Ei2 Tech Inc. have come forward to complain about the months-long delay in their salaries, with a group of former executive producers mulling legal action against the company.

But Abanil said there was a delay in transferring the sum to Ei2 Tech Inc. because the education department and production company had different banks.

“As far as we’re concerned, we’re paying them na for Milestone 1 except iyon nga, dahil pala sa processing ng LandBank, it takes one to two weeks pa pala even after… we’ve transferred funds,” Abanil told ABS-CBN News.

(As far as we’re concerned, we’re paying them for Milestone 1 except because of the processing in LandBank, it takes one to two weeks even after… we’ve transferred funds.)

“That’s just for partial payment na ginawa nila last year (for what they did last year). I think good for 640 episodes,” he said.

On Dec. 29, the DepEd awarded a P45.5 million contract to Ei2 Tech Inc. for the first phase of the DepEd TV project.

Under the agreement, Ei2 Tech Inc. will train teachers for TV-based instruction and produce curriculum-based TV lessons. These will be delivered in 5 “milestones.”

Abanil explained that Ei2 Tech Inc. would be paid for each milestone, and that the department was already processing payments for the second and third milestones of the project.

“Ongoing na iyong processing sa accounting for it to be paid. Sa experience namin, it takes, normally it takes one to two weeks din sa accounting before it gets released,” he said.

(The processing of payment for the second and third milestone is ongoing in our accounting office. Based on our experience, it normally takes one to two weeks before it gets released from accounting.)

Abanil said the DepEd also received complaints about delayed salaries of Ei2 Tech Inc. workers, which the agency relayed to Bediones.

The second phase of the DepEd TV project, which amounts to P200 million, had a “a failure in the bidding process so this is still going through the process of being procured again,” Abanil said.

He added that DepEd TV was not included in the department’s 2020 and 2021 budget but was funded through Bayanihan 1 and 2, the government’s pandemic relief measures.

DepEd officials explained in December that the department’s engagement with Ei2 Tech Inc. was on a “voluntary basis.” 

Bediones initially offered the DepEd a “proof of concept that was free of charge” to train teachers for TV-based instruction and produce curriculum-based TV lessons, said Education Undersecretary Alain Pascua.

ABS-CBN News has reached out to Bediones for comment but he has yet to respond as of writing.

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