DICT Says Purchase of P170.2 Million Worth of Laptops and Tablets Above Board
There was no irregularity in the procurement of gadgets worth P170.2-million within the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the government agency said on Wednesday.
DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan defended the acquisition, which was flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA) in its latest report because the supplier was allegedly a general construction company and could not prove that it also supplies computers and other gadgets.
But Honasan said the company that supplied the computer units, tablets and laptops—Lex-Mar General Merchandise and Contractor—was “found be a technically, legally, and financially capable supplier.” He added that the company is both a general construction firm and a wholesaler of office supplies and equipment, including computer units and tablets.
Lex-Mar’s financial statements also met the requirements for the procurement, adding that the supplier provided the department completed contracts with the local government of Quezon City, the secretary added.
The project for which the gadgets were purchased is called the Digital Education Program (DEP), which Honasan said was “intended to assist its partner local government units facilitate ICT-enabled education especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“Through these initiatives, we aim to be more responsive to the needs of our students under the online and blended learning modalities as face-to-face classes are currently suspended during this public health emergency,” he said.
The COA has flagged numerous government agencies for questionable projects and transactions in recent weeks. Earlier this week, its audit report on the Department of Health’s budget drew an emotional reaction from Secretary Francisco Duque, who blasted the COA for “destroying” his department’s reputation.
President Rodrigo Duterte also chastised the COA for publishing its reports that he said had yet to be verified.
In the case of the DICT, Honasan said the gadgets it purchased were used for a number of projects, including the agency’s Cybersafe Learning for Education spearheaded by the ICT Literacy and Competency Development Bureau (ILCDB) and intended to benefit the students from the University of Makati; the Cybersafe Learning for Education of the Cybersecurity Bureau (CSB), with ILCDB’s support, in coordination with the City Governments of San Juan and Makati; and the Digital Learners and Teachers project of the ILCDB that benefited learners and teachers from Pinaglabanan Elementary School in San Juan City.
“Overall, the projects involved aim to support the primary objective of the government to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus as more and more agencies and LGUs rely on the technical expertise and functions of the DICT to address the greater need for digitization, interconnectivity, and ensuring cybersecurity awareness of the public, during this new normal,” Honasan said.