Pricey laptop dogs new administration

By August 22, 2022General Admission

By Al S. Mendoza


ONE can buy a laptop for at least P35,000.  Good quality already.

But over at the Department of Education (DepEd), that one is considered mediocre.

Mine was even cheaper and, therefore, more lo-tech?

I got it for 32k last Christmas—a gift from a niece.

It works perfectly well.  No glitches.  No key click-bites.  No nothing.

Been churning trouble-free columns from it since.

The DepEd, in dumping the 35k laptop, instead settled for a laptop costing P58,300.

That’s 9k more than the recommended one.

But when the P58,300. laptop went to its intended beneficiaries—our public schoolteachers, of course—not one, not two, not three, but many of our mentors immediately pointed out defects of the more expensive laptop.

It is slow.  It is below-par, technology-wise.  In short, it is not hi-tech.

When the Commission on Audit (COA) took a peep, it discovered a more glaring “defect”—the laptop is pricey but not up to par.

Meaning, the laptop is priced a bit too much but is palpably equipped with mediocre specs.

In fairness, the current DepEd administration under Vice President Sara Duterte had nothing to do with the laptop in question.

Leonor Briones was the DepEd Secretary when the P58,300. laptops were acquired.

Sara Duterte was appointed Education Secretary days after Marcos Jr. was proclaimed winner of the May 9 presidential elections.

She was the first Cabinet member to be appointed.

Only one of the officials involved in the purchase of the pricey but non-performing laptop is left working at DepEd, according to DepEd spox, Atty. Michael Poa in his interview with Ted Failon’s morning show on Cignal OnePH’s Monday to Friday program also aired on 92.3 FM radio.

“Said person is coordinating with us in the investigation of the questioned laptop,” said Poa, who added that “we are not prejudging anyone involved in the deal.”

Fair enough.

But amid all this brouhaha, Koko Pimentel, the upright senator for the longest time, has called for the abolition of the procurement section of the DBM (Department of Budget and Management).

He cited the fact that the same DBM section was also involved in the procurement of COVID-19 materials through Pharmally, the erstwhile small-player medical company that collared billion-peso contracts to supply the government with pandemic needs also allegedly overpriced.

It took months before the Senate blue ribbon committee concluded its hearings on the controversial Pharmally-instigated deals that allegedly short-changed the government by the billions, leading to the imprisonment of several Pharmally officials for contempt.

Another probe, this time on the pricey P58,300. laptop purchase, seems sure at the moment with the recent reconstitution of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee formerly headed by outgoing senator Dick Gordon.

This is going to be another blockbuster, especially considering that the government coughed out no less than P2.4 billion in the admittedly scandalous laptop acquisition.

Stay tuned, fellers.

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