Youth solon seeks probe of DepEd ‘overpricing’

ANTIPOLO CITY, Philippines — Kabataan party-list Representative Raymond “Mong” Palatino has iled a resolution directing the House committee on basic education and culture to investigate the allegedly overpriced procurement of medical and dental supplies by the Department of Education (DepEd).

House Resolution (HR) No. 1288, filed July 28, seeks to shed light on the discrepancies and possible overpricing of citronella shampoo and otoscope (auriscope), a device used to examine one’s ears, as well as to ensure the proper implementation of the health and wellness projects of the DepEd in public elementary and secondary schools.

On December 5, 2007, the Bid and Awards Committee I (BAC I) of DepEd’s Procurement Service issued an Invitation to Apply for Eligibility and to Bid (IAEB) for the supply and delivery of ferrous sulfate tablets (5 million 200-mg. tablets worth P5,000,000.00), dental anesthetics (125,000 carpules/2,500 boxes worth P1,875,000.00), disposable dental needles (125,000 pieces minimum/2,500 boxes worth P1,375,000.00), otoscopes (500 sets worth P1,000,000.00), and citronella shampoo (150,000 sachets worth P900,000.00) for a total approved budget of P10,150,000.00.

On August 2, 2008, the BAC I issued an IAEB for a rebidding of three of the five items, with changes in the volume and other details: ferrous sulfate tablets (5 million 325-mg. tablets worth P5,000,000.00), otoscopes (500 sets worth P1,000,000.00) and citronella shampoo (75,000 10-mL sachets worth Php 900,000.00).

Twenty days later, the BAC I issued Bid Bulleting No. 2, again amending the descriptions of the three items included in the IAEB (Rebid): ferrous sulfate tablets, 5 million tablets minimum; for otoscopes, the quantity was reduced from 500 sets to 75 sets but still worth P1,000,000.00, and the suppliers were required to submit ISO certification to show where the goods came from; for citronella shampoo, suppliers were further required to provide twenty (20) sample sachets to test if the finished product contained 4 to 6% Citronella extract.

Based on the BAC I report, the contract was officially awarded by the DepED to Blue Sky Trading Co., Inc.

Palatino said the purchase appeared anomalous since a sachet of the citronella shampoo cost P6 in the first bid and P12 in the rebid.

Palatino said at this price, the shampoo would be more expensive than lice-removing shampoos sold in the market, such as Licealize, which sells for P9.92 a sachet.

As for the otoscopes, their prices shot iup from P2,000.00 in the first bid and the rebid, to P13,333.00 per set listed in Bid Bulleting No. 2.

Palatino noted in his resolution that the market price of an ordinary penlight-type otoscope set ranges from P120.00 to P135.00.

In addition to the medical and dental supplies issue, Palatino also urged Congress to probe the unresolved ‘Instant Noodles Scam’ and the even earlier textbook scam. (Dateline Philippines)