IT package purchase in Valencia overpriced?

VALENCIA CITY (MindaNews/26 July)– The Valencia City Council will investigate the purchase of the city government earlier this year of 59 computer units dubbed “IT (information technology) packages” for the Department of Education division here worth P299, 000 each for a total of P17.783 million, Councilor Oliver Owen Garcia told MindaNews Thursday.

Garcia, a lawyer who heads the council’s committee on laws and education, said he will call DepEd officials and the supplier, Forever Books Learning Enterprises, next week for a committee hearing to probe the matter.

Ruel Duran, a supervisor at DepEd Valencia, told DXDB radio station this week that the 59 IT packages have been delivered already and are now at the DepEd supply office. But he clarified that it was only for “safekeeping” pending the inquiry on the procurement process.

Garcia noted that the amount per unit is suspect. Citing unnamed sources, he said, however, that the amount per unit maybe due to some value added costs, including intellectual property rights of the materials “packaged” with the computer units.

The new city council opened inquiry on the issue on July 22. The same issue was also tackled in a city council session by then city councilor Glenn Peduche in the outgoing city council last month.

In that session, Vice Mayor Azucena Huervas said the city council did not approve a resolution granting the chief executive authority to enter into contract with the supplier. She recognized, however, upon Peduche’s inquiry, that the budget for DepEd’s “laboratory equipment” was approved as part of the P50.649 million supplemental budget the city council approved on December 3, 2012.

But another document from the city council showed that the councilors passed on September 24, 2012 a resolution “supporting” Mayor Leandro Jose Catarata to grant the request made by Dr. Gloria Benigno, then DepEd-10 regional director, to buy the instructional materials and equipment.

The City’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), in a memorandum to Catarata on May 8, 2013, clarified that the 59 IT packages include 59 sets of high-end computers, 66 educational compact discs (CDs) and “units of computer sets equivalent to 3,894 CDs.”

DepEd’s request

The purchase was traced back to the request for funding assistance by DepEd’s Benigno to Catarata on July 31, 2012.

Benigno appraised Catarata that DepEd has no funds for a number of materials and equipment needed at the DepEd Valencia City schools division.

She cited that the division, based on an inventory, lacked instructional materials for pre-school/kindergarten like educational toys and books; microscopic projector and overhead projector; information technology for elementary and secondary schools; and scientific laboratory equipment for elementary and secondary schools.

In her letter, she cited that such “materials and equipment are not sufficient and DepEd lacks the fund for its procurement.”

The BAC explained in its memorandum that the materials and equipment are needed to help teachers by bridging and addressing curriculum gaps in preparation for the new K to 12 curriculum of DepEd.

The committee also cited the procurement process of the supply for information technology packages, starting with the pre-procurement conference on January 21, 2013 to the issuance of notice of award to the supplier on April 1, 2013.

It also clarified that a public bidding was conducted, adding it was not through “negotiated procurement” or “direct contracting.”

The BAC said that there were only two firms that submitted bid proposals after the publication of the notice of bidding at the Manila Bulletin. Forever Books Learning Enterprises won the bidding because the other proponent was disqualified for lack of credit line documents.

It also cited that the city council passed a resolution supporting the mayor’s decision to grant DepEd’s request. The BAC, headed by city planning and development coordinator Junaida Prantilla, added that the requirement on advertisement was also complied with two supplemental bid bulletins posted at PhilGEPS or the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System.

The committee also reported that they secured a certification of confirmation of transaction from DepEd Region 6 in Western Visayas, which also facilitated the purchase of the same IT packages from the same supplier. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)