COA should also flag DepEd over errors in textbooks
The Commission on Audit (COA) recently brought to task the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) for “overstocking P15.5 million worth of drugs and medicine for its inmates and for the poor quality of the food it serves its detainees, which endanger their health and safety” (“COA report: BuCor bought excess meds,” 6/22/19).
By means of two letters to the Inquirer (5/15/18 and 7/18/18), I publicized some of the 1,308 errors of the Grade 3 textbook used in public elementary schools titled “Araling Panlipunan Learner’s Material” and questioned the Department of Education (DepEd)’s unwise decision to spend P333 million to print and deliver these very defective products. The COA thereafter invited me to their main office and asked me to shed light on this issue. I walked them through the minefields of this detestable textbook; I even gave them a copy of the corrigenda I wrote pertaining to the errors and their corrections, to prove that the errors really existed. I have not heard from the COA or the DepEd ever since.
Will nobody be made to account for producing an error-riddled textbook which does not serve the purpose for which it was purchased at such humongous cost? By teaching errors instead of lessons, this book harmed and injured the minds of schoolchildren who were unfortunate enough to have used it. If the COA saw fit to flag the BuCor for its misuse of almost P16 million, what prevents it from doing the same to the DepEd for squandering P333 million on something that endangers the mental health and well-being of its wards?
The DepEd has not issued any invitation to bid to order any product or service since September 2018. This implies two disturbing possibilities:
1) Since the DepEd did not order anything for the past nine months of its operation (September 2018 to June 2019), it has not been in need or in want of anything, anything at all. How is it using its budget?
2) The DepEd has been ordering the products and services it needs directly from suppliers without going through the lawful process of open and transparent procurement.
Is the DepEd already following the Swiss challenge procurement method? Is this legal, aboveboard and corruption-free?
The COA’s directive to the BuCor was clear and concise—to avoid excessive purchases and to conduct public bidding for its purchases. Should that admonition not apply to the DepEd as well?
ANTONIO CALIPJO GO,
Novaliches, Quezon City
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