Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday sought the strengthening of the Commission on Audit (COA) in exposing anomalies in government, especially in the procurement of IT services and equipment.
“Simpleng kaso pa lang ito (overpriced laptops), pero kapag iyan ay services at software na, mahirap na bantayan dahil hindi standard ang presyo,” Cayetano said in an interview with reporters right after the Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on overpriced laptops purchased by the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM).
“So I think dapat palakasin ang COA, at ang mga NGO na IT experts ay kasama dito para mabantayan ito. Dahil ito ang bagong fertilizer, y’ung IT equipment at services,” he added, referring to the fertilizer fund scam during a previous administration.
The committee hearing was held after Cayetano filed on August 11, 2022 Proposed Senate Resolution No. 134 which sought to investigate, in aid of legislation, the DepEd’s procurement of allegedly overpriced laptops through the PS-DBM.
“Nag umpisa tayo na tinanong ang DepEd at DBM-PS ng ‘anyare’ at natapos na, ‘anyare’ pa rin. Halatang malaking lokohan and hindi talaga ginamit ang common sense,” he told reporters.
He said it would have been easy to verify prices even with the use of a mobile phone. “Meron naman tayong cell phone. Pwede i-Google at tanungin magkano ang laptops. Napakalayo naman ng 35,000 sa 58,000 pesos,” he said, referring to the discrepancy of prices for mid-range computers approved by DBM-PS and DepEd.
“Makikita nyo naman po na some people are smarter than others. Sinasama sa bidding yung bag. Natural lahat ng gumagawa ng computer ay hindi na sasali. Dun nila pinapaikutan ang sambayanang Pilipino, sa pamamagitan ng bagong pa lang ibid-naluto na kung kanino ito mapupunta,” he added.
Cayetano said he looks forward to the reforms that can be made after the Senate investigations.
“Five hours natapos ang part 1. Kung masusunod ito sa bidding at awards, two hearings na lang at may example na kaagad tayo at napakaraming reporma na napakasimple na pwedeng gawin,” he said.