Jinggoy Estrada bares ‘repeat orders, split contracts’ in DepEd procurements

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Jinggoy Estrada uncovered on Thursday the practice of “repeat orders” and “split contracts” in the procurements of the Department of Education (DepEd).

During the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing, presided by Senator Francis Tolentino, on the DepEd laptop purchase through the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management, Estrada inquired about DepEd Director Abram Abanil on their transactions with suppliers.

“I have done some research on DepEd’s past contracts and I have encountered the names of ASI or Advance Solutions, Inc., Columbia Technologies, Inc., Reddot Imaging Philippines, Inc., Techguru Inc., and, Girltekki Inc., are you familiar with these names?” Estrada quizzed to which Abanil replied “yes.”

“So, you would be able to confirm that these companies I mentioned have regularly supplied the DepEd with its laptop and other [information technology] requirements? Am I correct?” the senator further questioned and Abanil affirmed.

The director disclosed that the DepEd held bidding procedures in their previous procurements. But, the said suppliers usually win “because they have submitted the lowest bids.”

Estrada pointed out that new players should be welcomed for better competition, observing that several “repeat orders” have been made in favor of the said suppliers.

“The effect of a repeat order is that it dispenses with the need of undergoing public bidding again. In the case of these suppliers, why did we not just bid for the goods in a single lot? Was there a lack of planning here, or was the DepEd deliberately dividing the contract so that it can use repeat orders as an alternative mode of procurement?” the senator asked.

Abanil explained: “Your honor, the decision to divide into lots was primarily, but if I recall correctly, we decided on breaking it to further lots instead of making it into one lot because medyo (we’re kind of) worried kami baka hindi mag-comply yung mga suppliers sa (that suppliers will not comply with the) [Net Financial Contracting Capacity], your honor, kung isang (if one) lot.”

Estrada then noted that the department is “circumventing” the law against splitting of contracts.

Reacting to Estrada’s remark, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said that the issue could be reviewed “for possible amendments to the procurement law.” -Daniza Fernandez/ INQUIRER