Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chair Francis ‘Tol’ Tolentino can’t hide his frustration over the supposed inclusion of the Food and Drug Administration Law in the memorandum of agreement between the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) and the Department of Education on the anomalous purchase of laptops for public school teachers.
“Bakit po nakasali dito ang Food and Drug (Administration) at Department of Health sa contract eh tungkol ito sa laptop? …there’s a big difference between a paracetamol and a laptop,” said Tolentino.
Tolentino became furious upon learning that the FDA Law was used as one of the references in the laptop procurement MOA which was signed former Education Secretary Leonor Brioner and former PS-DBM officer-in-charge Lloyd Christopher Lao.
“Ang pinag-uusapan natin laptop hindi po ito PPE. Hindi po ito medical devices, hindi po ito medicines, nakalagay po sa contract tapos cinite pa sa succeeding articles—referring to Section 1 again, and section 1 refers to that FDA,” Tolentino stressed.
Section 8 of the MOA states that: “PS-DBM reserves the right with prior consultation with the DepEd to make changes to the bidding documents which includes the technical specifications TOR or other project requirements, as it may deem necessary to promote competition and ensure compliance with RA 9184 and its IRR and to other regulatory laws like the Food and Drug Law in its IRR.”
“Hindi po kaya merong de kahong kontrata na pinalitan na lang kung medicine, ginawang laptop. Bakit po nakasama ang FDA? FDA is not part of this procurement process. Laptop po ito para sa DepEd,” the senator added.
Tolentino stressed that it seems the agreement between PS-DBM and DepEd was not properly crafted, citing the faulty provisions of the MOA.
“Pinapakita ko lang po ito para ipakita sa inyo na parang—mawalang galang na po ayaw ko po banggitin ito—parang hindi napag-aralan ng abogado kasi kung maayos ayos na abogado tatanungin niya bakit kasama itong FDA law sa pagbili ng laptop?” he added.
Meawhile, former DepEd assistant secretary for procurement and administration Atty. Salvador Malana III admitted the mistake and explained that it can be attributed to the so-called ‘pro forma’ contract given to them by Lao.
“I will therefore agree with you, your honor, that this could be a big mistake…It was a mistake to have included Food and Drug Law on Clause 1.8 and I would also mention, your honor, that indeed this emanated from a pro forma contract from DBM-PS,” said Malana.