Fraud audit to help DepEd make decisions

The “fraud audit” that Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte has requested from the Commission on Audit (COA) will help the Department of Education (DepEd) move forward following the controversial procurement of supposedly pricey and outdated laptops for teachers.

“We have already written to the Commission on Audit requesting for fraud audit of the purchase of the laptops so that here at the Department of Education, we can plan our way forward based on the findings of their audit,” Duterte said in English and Filipino yesterday.

Duterte’s chief of staff and DepEd Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III earlier confirmed the Vice President’s directive to reach out to COA Chairman Jose Calida for a fraud audit.

Even those at the DepEd felt angry after learning of the audit observation on the procurement of laptops, although he cautioned against concluding that there was an anomaly pending the results of the investigation, according to Densing.

“We were very specific in the specifications of the laptop, so this is the area that we want to clarify. We do not want to pass judgment right now,” he said.

“In the meantime, while we are not declaring that there is a fraudulent transaction at that time, we are also not saying that there is none,” he added.

Earlier, DepEd spokesman Michael Poa noted they would also evaluate the laptops delivered to public school teachers to verify reports regarding their slow performance.

“The DepEd will be evaluating the claim that the laptops are slow. We will see if there can be a quick fix. Having said that, there is no order or directive to replace the laptops just yet. We are not there yet. We will be evaluating first,” Poa said.

“Now, if proven that the laptops delivered do not perform as they should be as purchased, we will then consider available legal remedies – which is to invoke the warranty provision. If need be, invoking the warranty provision will be done in coordination with the PS-DBM (Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management), as they are the procuring entity,” he added.

Chairs, learning materials

Aside from the procurement of laptops, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) also urged the COA and Congress to investigate the DepEd’s performance in the provision of chairs and learning materials.

ACT chairman Vladimer Quetua said they have reports of armchair shortage, with some schools even receiving monobloc chairs without armrests.

“In a school in La Union, teachers fight over monobloc chairs to secure enough supply for their classes. How can children write if their chairs do not have armrests?” Quetua added.

The ACT official also highlighted the lack of learning and teaching materials, citing reports that some of those damaged by previous typhoons and other calamities have yet to be replaced.

The DepEd earlier committed to provide enough learning materials to all public schools as full in-person classes are set to be implemented in the coming school year.

Meanwhile, Duterte met separately with several ambassadors who visited her at the DepEd Central Office in Pasig City.

Among those who paid the Vice President a courtesy call were Ambassadors Marco Clemente of Italy, William John Carlos of Ireland, Hoàng Huy Chung of Vietnam and Songkane Luangmuninthone of Laos.

Duterte discussed with the ambassadors various partnership opportunities between the Philippines and their respective countries, particularly on the education sector.

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