Sen. Francis Tolentino is confident that senators would agree to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) recommendation over the anomalous Department of Education (DepEd) procurement in 2021 of outdated laptops worth P2.4 billion, which were allegedly overpriced by almost P1 billion.
The committee recommended the filing of criminal, civil, and administrative cases against former and current officials of the Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) and DepEd.
According to Tolentino, he remains confident senators will affix their signatures on the 195-page committee report.
However, the committee cleared former DepEd Sec. Leonor Briones, stressing that there is no evidence against her involvement.
While her signature appears in the disputed Memorandum of Agreement (MOS) on the purchase of the laptops, the committee noted she could have been deceived in signing.
But Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, without mentioning the name of Briones, insisted that all signatures appearing on the MOA should be further investigated.
Tolentino will present the committee findings anytime this week in the plenary when the Senate session resumes today.
After approval, he said the report will immediately be transmitted to the Office of the Ombudsman, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Anti-Money Laundering Council, and the Commission on Audit (COA).
The committee report noted it was clearly established that the laptops bought for the use of public school teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic were overpriced by P929 million.
Due to this, Tolentino’s committee urged a deeper investigation by the COA which initially divulged the overpriced and outdated laptops. The committee also requested the Anti-Money Laundering Council to conduct a thorough probe into the bank accounts of all those implicated in the multibillion anomalous transaction.
The BIR was also asked to inquire if the PS-DBM remitted withholding tax and paid the correct taxes for the laptops.
The committee also proposed that the PS-DBM, which has been embroiled in other corruption, be abolished for its involvement the DepEd’s procurement mess. of 39,583 laptops at a price of P58,300 each. The original price was P35,046 intended for 68,500 recipients.