Caloocan mayor, DepEd exec face graft complaint over gadgets

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 02 2021 02:22 PM | Updated as of Jun 02 2021 02:58 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) — A graft complaint was filed Wednesday against Caloocan Mayor Oscar Malapitan, Education Undersecretary Alain Pascua and 3 others over the purchase of P320 million worth of alleged substandard smart tablets for public school students.

Also named as respondents in the complaint filed at the Office of the Ombudsman by three Caloocan City councilors are city treasurer Analiza Mendiola, bids and awards committee chairman Oliver Hernandez, and Annalou Pallarca, senior project officer of supplier Cosmic Technologies Inc.

The complainants, Christopher Malonzo, Marylou San Buenaventure, Alexander Managasar, told the Ombudsman that the respondents acquired the "substandard" smart tablets from Cosmic "without a public bidding."

The smart tablets were purchased for students in Caloocan public schools, which shifted to distance learning last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the complaint, the purchased tablets — Cherry Cosmos 7 — are "not even commercially available for sale in the market" and do not meet the minimum technical specifications set by the Department of Education (DepEd).

The DepEd earlier issued a memorandum detailing the minimum requirements for gadgets that would be donated to public schools.

Despite the "subpar technical specifications," Pascua issued a memorandum stating that the tablets procured by the Caloocan city government "meets the requirements of providing distance learning for students," the complainants said.

The complainants compared other tablets from Cosmic and suggested that if another brand was bought, the procurement contract would only amount to P239.125 million, saving P79.579 million.

Compared to Cherry Cosmos 7, the other tablets met the specifications set by DepEd, the complainants said.

"This is the degree of damage respondent Malapitan, and his co-respondents caused to the City Government of Caloocan City," they said.

The complainants said they asked Malapitan to submit a comprehensive report on the procurement of the tablets and a contract with Cosmic, but failed to submit them.

"The demands of the complainants were not met. Malapitan did not submit any written report detailing the utilization of the 320 million budget for the tablets," they said.

The local chief executive also failed to submit a detailed report on the distribution of smart tablets, according to the complaint.

"It only contained tables with numbers and dates without any explanation of the data provided therein. There were no breakdown of the serial numbers of the tablets/units and to whom the said tablets were given to," the complainants said.

In a statement, Malapitan said he has yet to receive a copy of the complaint but was confident that it would be dismissed.

"May mga dokumento na nagpapatunay na compliant at dumaan ang proyektong ito sa tamang proseso," he said.

(There are documents proving that this project was compliant and went through the right process.)

Malapitan said the complainants "have been using this issue since last year to gain political points with the people of Caloocan."

Pascua, meanwhile, said he "was not involved in the procurement process in Caloocan City."

— With reports from Adrian Ayalin, Jaehwa Bernardo, and Arra Perez, ABS-CBN News

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