Fresh probe sought into PS-DBM after DepEd laptop deal

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 16 2022 09:56 AM | Updated as of Aug 16 2022 10:03 AM

ABS-CBN News/File
ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — Sen. Risa Hontiveros is seeking an investigation into all government transactions that the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management has conducted.

In an interview with ANC's "Headstart" Tuesday, Hontiveros said she will file a resolution for a fresh probe into PS-DBM after the purchase of allegedly "outdated" and "pricey" laptops for teachers.

"I'd like to broaden the view of the [Senate] Blue Ribbon Committee or whichever committee my resolution will be referred to, to go beyond just the laptop issue to PS-DBM's role in all such transactions," she said.

The PS-DBM has been embroiled in controversies before, which include the controversial multibillion-peso transactions with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp and alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 response funds.

"In fact, the characters from Pharmally seem to be reprising their kontrabida roles in more recent anomalies flagged by the Commission on Audit," Hontiveros said.

The senator wants to summon former PS-DBM officials led by Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao over their role in the purchase of allegedly overpriced laptops.

The laptops were procured in 2021 during the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte and were set to be distributed to 68,500 personnel to help them adjust to online and blended learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lao's name first surfaced during the Senate's investigation on Pharmally.

"Basta mukhang lumalabas, issue after issue regarding PS-DBM, 'yung grupo talaga niya ay laging nababanggit. Kung hindi man siya mismo, ang kagrupo ni Usec. Lao," Hontiveros said.

Some lawmakers in the 19th Congress have said they want to abolish the body after it was implicated in controversies, she added.

State auditors recently flagged DepEd for purchasing "outdated" and "pricey" laptops for teachers worth P2.4 billion, an issue that DepEd referred to the PS-DBM.

The PS-DBM has said it would "fully cooperate" with COA over its findings and recommendations on the procurement of laptops.

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