Malacañang on Tuesday defended the purchase of over 100 service vehicles worth PHP1.5 million each, saying they will be used to deliver modules to students and teachers under the distance learning setup amid the prevailing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the vehicles were already budgeted in the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
“Unang-una, 2019 budget iyan, iyong kanilang need was assessed as early as 2016. At ngayon po, kailangang-kailangan po talaga ng DepEd iyan dahil nga po kinakailangan i-deliver ang mga modules sa mga malalayong lugar all over the Philippines (Firstly, it’s already part of the 2019 budget and the need was assessed as early as 2016. Now, the DepEd really needs it to deliver modules to far-flung areas all over the Philippines),” he said.
Roque said the vehicles were a result of the public bidding process.
“So, bakit po iyan ang brand? Eh, iyan po iyong nanalo sa bidding. Eh talaga naman po lahat ng government procurement dumadaan po iyan sa public bidding, at iyan po iyong pinakamababang responsive bid na nakuha ng DepEd (Why that specific brand? Because it won the bidding. All government procurements go through public bidding and it is the cheapest response bid the DepEd got),” he added.
Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte had full trust in DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones’ discretion to allow the purchase of the vehicles.
“Ultimately it’s a matter of trusting the head of the office. I trust, the President trusts and the entire Filipino nation trusts Professor Emeritus Leonor Briones,” he added.
DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain Pascua earlier said the vehicles were used in the delivery of modules, in transporting teachers, and in addressing emergencies.
He said the agency’s disaster risk reduction management personnel would also use the vehicles in times of emergencies and calamities.
On Monday, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines criticized the DepEd for purchasing over 100 Mitsubishi Strada (4×4 GLS MT) to be used by its engineers during field inspections.
ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said the funds used to buy the vehicles could have been used to provide basic needs under distance learning. (PNA)