A reader sent me an e-mail last Friday suggesting that if ever an investigation will be conducted on the overpricing of educational materials and “ghost” projects at the Department of Education (DepEd) during the previous administration, the inquiry body should summon, first and foremost, its former head, Jesli Lapus.
The reader contended that the alleged anomalies happened under Lapus’ watch and he should be held accountable under the command responsibility principle.
A former supplier of the department, who asked not to be identified, agreed with the email sender, saying it is highly improbable that the former DepEd secretary does not have any idea of what’s happening in his department, “because that will make him an idiot,” said my source.
My book supplier informant admitted that contractors have to overprice textbooks and computers to cover the 50 to 70 percent commissions that DepEd officials ask, including the Office of the Secretary.
A certain Alfredo Madamba Jr. was said to have collected the kickbacks from the contractors allegedly for former Secretary Lapus, my informant claimed.
The kickbacks or “tongpats” depend on how big the projects given to the contractors by DepEd are.
There were suppliers who delivered almost P1billion worth of textbooks or computers in one order alone, thus the bribe to the DepEd officials could go as high P700 million, the same source pointed out.
So, the question is, did Lapus benefit from this alleged scam?
My source said it was only Madamba whom they approached to request funding for projects, despite the fact that he was not an organic member of the department.
Surprisingly, a week later, a sub-allotment release order or Saro was printed and given to a supplier so the delivery of books or computers could start right away.
Lapus is not new to controversy. He was the object of media scrutiny before for allowing the funding of over a hundred million worth of “noodles” that were believed to be overpriced.
The “noodles’ were meant to feed public school children.
The issue, however, died mysteriously with no one being prosecuted and the feeding program was abruptly stopped.
My supplier friend believes that Lapus will never be summoned by any investigating body, if there would be one, regarding the textbook overpricing scam.
After all, Lapus, who hails from Tarlac, is a cousin of Pnoy on his father’s side, my informant disclosed.
I rest my case then .