Estrada: Probe favored DepEd suppliers to see if they benefitted from ‘split’ contracts

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 20) — A lawmaker said he wants an investigation on several suppliers who seem to be favored by the Department of Education (DepEd) when it comes to the purchase of electronics.

“Based on my research on DepEd’s contracts, I always encounter the names of ASI or Advance Solutions Inc., Columbia Technologies, Reddot Imaging Philippines, Techguru Inc., and Girl Teki Inc.,” Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Why are these suppliers so lucky that they almost always win juicy DepEd contracts that run into billions of pesos over the years?” he asked.

Estrada pointed out that some of these companies did not have websites, and had offices with obscure addresses.

The DepEd has been under investigation after a Commission on Audit report showed a purchase of laptops intended for use by teachers amounted to ₱2.4 billion. The COA said the computers were discovered to be outdated and “pricey for entry-level type laptops.”

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee held several hearings to look into the purchase. Estrada is a member of the committee.

In his statement, Estrada said the investigation should look into why contracts were awarded to the same set of suppliers, which was prohibited under the Government Procurement Reform Act, and why these suppliers have not undergone an audit even when the DepEd’s procurement practices were being questioned.

“I also noticed that there have been several repeat orders made in favor of these suppliers,” he added. “Take note that under Section 51 of the IRR [Implementing Rules and Regulations] of Republic Act 9184… the effect of repeat orders is that it dispenses with or foregoes the conduct of competitive public bidding.”

Estrada said allowing new suppliers to take part in government biddings would ensure healthy competition.

None of the suppliers mentioned by the senator have issued a statement on his comments.