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THE Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday said it has already replied to the Commission on Audit (COA), which flagged “deficiencies” in the utilization of funds amounting to P4.527 billion for the implementation of the distance learning program, for school years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022.

In a press briefing, DepEd spokesperson Atty. Michael Poa said there was a delay encountered during the procurement “due to the surges (in Covid-19 cases) last year.”

Poa said, “We will look into it first but right now, what we are doing is, these are AOMs (Audit Observation Memorandum), these are just findings. They are not conclusive. So what the DepEd is doing, we are responding to whatever COA wants us to respond on.”

Whatever is the final determination of COA, Poa said, “we would always correct and cooperate with COA for the improvement of our processes here in DepEd.”

Likewise, based on the annual audit report of COA, DepEd purchased expensive laptops for 2021 which are “outdated and pricey.”

The united were purchased through the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM-PS), and auditors said fewer units were bought with the fund allocation because the laptops were “pricey,” depriving 28,917 teachers of the benefit.

Poa said that they are aware that some time in March 22, the DepEd was in receipt such audit observation.”What I know is we have already submitted the documentary requirements  . . .We’re just waiting for feedback from COA.”

The Audit Team could not ascertain the basis of DBM-PS for adopting the unit price of P58,300.

“Apparently, the supposed number of laptops to be procured of 68,500 units was significantly reduced to 39,583 units which was mainly due to the huge increase of estimated cost from P35,046 to P58,300 anchored on the DBM-PS’ recommendation, which was duly accepted by the DepEd,” the COA stated. Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco