A LAPTOP custom-built for the Department of Education (DepEd)’s project “Procurement of DCP Packages” was sold at a local surplus store in Mandaue City for P10,000, which is 72 percent lower than the DepEd’s P36,100 contract price for the same unit.
HMR Cebu, a local surplus store, posted on its Facebook page the sale of the Coby 14” laptop for P9,999 on Monday, Oct. 17, 2022, as one of its new-arrival products.
One of the buyers of the laptop showed SunStar Cebu noticeable markings that had been partially scraped from the laptop and its accessories. The buyer said he learned from the clerks that there were already eight other buyers who had procured the same device before him.
The scraping out of markings that were etched on the backside of the screen display and below the front screen display of the laptop, and on the mouse, were very visible when the product was supposed to be brand new.
A portable loudspeaker with a lapel microphone was among the accessories for the laptop. The speaker has the DepEd’s “Sulong EduKalidad” sticker. The packaging of the headset also bore DepEd’s slogan and project “Procurement of DCP Packages” markings.
Upon closer inspection of the laptop, SunStar also discovered that some of the preloaded files were DepEd’s training videos on how to operate the laptop and apps such as Minecraft Education, Arduino, Geometry, Graphing Calc, and GeoGebra Classic.
Minecraft Education is a game-based learning platform designed to promote creativity, collaboration and problem-solving in an immersive and secure digital environment. It is a partnership between Microsoft and DepEd.
Arduino is a software that is part of DepEd’s Computerization Program (DCP) Virtual Labs.
DepEd, represented by then Secretary Leonor Briones, signed a contract agreement with the joint venture of Reddot Imaging Philippines Inc. and Creative Labs Berlin GMBH Corp. to supply 8,908 laptops, 8,908 55-inch Smart TVs and 8,908 lapel speakers (portable loud speaker with lapel mic) for a total of P475,562,463.84 for the Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon regions on Feb. 10, 2021.
The specifications of the Coby 14” laptop and special requirements set by DepEd for each unit, like the placement of the DepEd logo embossed/etched at the backside of the screen display (cover), on the front screen display edge or keyboard area and on the mouse, were the same specifications as with the Coby laptop sold at HMR Cebu--except that the DepEd logo markings had been scraped off.
SunStar Cebu reached out to the management of HMR Cebu, but to no avail. However, one of the store’s clerks told SunStar Cebu that the laptops were supplied by their Manila purchaser, who was the one who set the price for the device. As to the condition of the laptop, it was as they had received it from the Manila purchaser.
In a phone interview, another clerk said she would inform management about the concern about the laptop’s sale.
(Editor’s Note: If you are among those who purchased the same Coby laptop at HMR Cebu, please contact the SunStar Cebu newsroom at 09177139076 and 09154410491 for us to determine the volume of this kind of laptop disposed to the public.)
SunStar Cebu reached out to the DepEd in Central Visayas (DepEd 7) for an explanation on how laptops custom-built for the department ended up in a surplus store.
DepEd 7 spokesperson Amaryllis Villarmia said the regional office would issue a statement on the matter on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022.
To recall, the Commission on Audit (COA) in a 2021 audit report flagged the price of the laptops that were procured by the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service (PS-DBM) amounting to P58,300 each for 39,583 units of laptop computers for teachers to be used for online learning.
The procurement is funded by Republic Act 11494 or the “Bayanihan to Recover As One Act” worth P2.4 billion.
According to state auditors, the price of the laptops was too high based on the specifications attached to the memorandum issued by the DepEd.
State auditors questioned why DepEd accepted the price per unit as part of the recommendations by the PS-DBM despite the fact that the estimated price based on DepEd’s approved Annual Procurement Plan was only P35,046.50.