3 MOAs hound DepEd laptop project

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2022 09:43 PM | Updated as of Sep 29 2022 09:53 PM

(UPDATED) Director Marcelo Bragado, Jr. of the Department of Education's Procurement and Management Service has submitted to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee a “diary-like” journal and other documents revealing on how the DepEd and the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) moved to accomplish the P2.4-billion laptop project using the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or the Bayanihan-2 law. 

The project involved the procurement of 68,500 laptops for public school teachers, with a proposed unit price of P35,046.

The undertaking, however, ended with only 39,583 teacher-recipients of supposedly outdated laptop units priced at P58,300 each.

Bragado, who is now on floating status, told the committee that they crafted three Memorandum of Agreement (MOAs) to support the laptop project.

These are dated February 16, 2021, another, April 29, 2021 and the last, May 28, 2021.

“This is like a diary the way I look at it, with the details, the names, emailed to Sharon Baile, one of the chairpersons... this must have ben done by a person knowledgeable of a person of the events that transpired not through his recollection but through a daily transcription. Akin to a diary, to a journal,” Blue Ribbon Panel chairman Sen. Francis Tolentino noted.

Bragado earlier told the committee that DepEd officials only antedated their May 28 approved MOA to February 16, which was being quoted by Education Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla.

Brigado's journal ran from January 12, 2021 to April 22, 2021, according to Tolentino.

“To show the committee your honor that at February 26, 2021 we just started with the negotiation for the drafting of the MOA. And that amendment of the 2017 MOA is the initial draft to finalize our MOA for the P2.4-billion laptop," Bragado said

Asked what us his role in the laptop procurement, Bragado said: "The role is to coordinate with PS-DBM and report to Usec. Sevilla and the task force, Usec. Malama also and also the progress on these talks with PS-DBM."

“I cannot comment on the MOA shown to me because I am not part of the discussion or kung anuman ang sinasabi nila na usapan na sinasabi nila. I am not part," Sevilla, in her defense, said.

But Sevilla later in the hearing admitted that they initially used the agency's 2017 "mother MOA" as a legal basis for their laptop procurement.

The other MOAs were later on used as bases to draft their final MOA for the said project, the official stated.

“May I also remind Atty. Bragado na siya po yung secretariat ng PS-DBM Task Force. Kaya po yung mga documents na sinasabi nya eh sa kanya naka-keep. I don’t know kung ano ang gusto nyang palabasin dito. Kasi yung organization of documents niya ngayon lang lumalabs. But on those times, when I’m asking him, wala pong nasa-submit sa akin... may mga sina-submit siya, mga powerpoint,” Sevilla said.

But Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III refused to buy Sevilla's explanations.

“The 2017 MOA could not have covered the laptop project because Bayanihan 2 yun eh. Iba funding eh," Pimentel stressed.

"Ganito ha, April 29 2021 aminado po kayo na nag-nenegotiate pa sa amended or supplemental or new MOA to govern the P2.4 billion, and then sasabihin nyo na anyway pwede matuloy kasi may mother MOA noong 2017. And then sa sworn statement niyo na sinubmit sa committee na ito, you referred to a February 16, 2021 MOA. So, do you see the contradiction doon? April 28 (sec 29) aminado ka ngayon na wala pang MOA eh," the senator added.

“May we remind all resource persons that making a false statement of a material fact before this committee is punishable by law. And number 2, may I remind all of you that you cannot knowingly omit facts, if the omission would be the same as a false statement, pag may nilaktawan na nag resulta ng kasinungalingan, ay punishable din," Tolentino later said.

More questions about the so-called 2017 "mother MOA" surfaced, when Senator Sherwin Gatchalian quizzed PS-DBM Executive Director Dennis Santiago on the laptop project deal's legality.

“Kung walang MOA as late as may what is the basis when PS-DBM started buying the items, procuring the items. What is the legal basis," Gatchalian asked.

“If there’s no MOA, there’s no foundation or platform then there’s no legal standing... I glanced over 2017 MOA, there are goods can be procured. What goods can be procured, unless you amend it," Santiago replied.

A Commission on Audit Central Office official in the same hearing meantime confirmed that state auditors saw the procured laptops as "overpriced," with their canvassing resulting in just over P22,000 per unit price.

The Teachers' Dignity Coalition said many of their members decided to return their received laptops.

"Mayroon naman tayong teachers na nag-canvas using the same specs (specifications). Example, one teacher from Aurora. Nung nakita niya ang mahal. By the way iba-iba po ang price na nakalagay sa pinapirmahan sa naka-receive. May P58,000 my P60,000 plus. Sinoli na niya sa property custodian kasi baka pag nasira baka pabayaran sa kanya," TDC National President Benjo Basa said.

Tolentino said one more hearing and the Blue Ribbon panel will be ready to craft a committee report, and point out the lapses in the controversial DepEd laptop project.

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