Senate panel to probe sugar importation mess, 'overpriced' DepEd laptops

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 17 2022 01:46 PM | Updated as of Aug 17 2022 07:10 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) — The Senate Blue Ribbon committee on Wednesday announced it would launch investigations into the sugar importation mess and the alleged overpriced laptops procured for the Department of Education (DepEd).

Sen. Francis Tolentino, chairman of the panel, set the probe into the sugar importation scandal on Aug. 23, while that for the procurement of laptops will be on Aug. 25.

Three key officials from the Sugar Regulatory Administration and its board have already resigned from their posts nearly a week after they signed a resolution calling for sugar imports but which Malacañang described as "illegal.”

The DepEd said Monday it has already sought a fraud audit over the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service's (PS-DBM) purchase of allegedly overpriced and outdated laptops for public school teachers.

OTHER ISSUES

Aside from the two issues, some senators are also asking the Blue Ribbon panel to investigate other possible irregularities.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros wants an investigation into the implementation of Unified Financial Assistance System (UniFAST), which was flagged by the Commission on Audit over its supposed suspicious overpayments and double reimbursements.

“Dito naman sa UniFAST, halos 100 na ang natatanggap namin na complaints galing sa mga estudyante mula sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng Pilipinas,” Hontiveros told the panel.

UniFAST is an attached agency under CHED meant to implement Republic Act No. 10931, or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.

Sen. Koko Pimentel also penned a resolution asking the panel to probe the “alleged undue payment given by the Land Transportation Office to the joint venture of Dermalog Identification System, Holy Family Printing Corp., Migrogenesis and Verzontal Builders."

According to Pimentel, COA reported that LTO gave undue payment to the joint venture under the Road IT Infrastructure project amounting to over P3 billion. 

— With reports from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News