Press Release
October 11, 2006


Sen. Panfilo Lacson told the Department of Education (DepEd) Wednesday to take a closer look into how monopoly has marred the bidding procedures for its textbook procurement program, especially those involving foreign loans.

Lacson lamented that from 1999 to 2004, a single group of publishing companies sharing common officers and stockholders had a virtual stranglehold on textbook procurement deals, raking in more than 75 percent of the contracts.

Dont tell me we will disregard our own laws in favor of the World Banks guidelines ... Theres a monopoly and theres no competition. The quality of textbooks and our education will suffer, he said.

Worse, he said some DepEd officials appeared to try to defend the deal during Wednesdays budget hearing of the DepEd at the Senate, when he brought up the matter.

The DepEd is asking for some P2.064 billion for textbooks for 2007. If the monopoly is not addressed, following the pattern, the Vibal Group stands to corner some P1.5 billion, Lacson said.

Lacson hinted that if the DepEd will not act on the matter, he may move for the deferment of its budget should the General Appropriations Act advance to the plenary level.

He also said it is up to private citizens, including parents, to file the necessary charges against the DepEd and other parties concerned should an investigation find them liable.

Citing records reaching his office, Lacson said the Department of Budget and Management awarded almost P500 million in textbook contracts to two disqualified bidders only last September.

He said he has filed a resolution seeking a Senate probe into the mess, which he said may have involved some government officials making a quick buck at the expense of students and teachers

This is a blatant and gross violation of procurement laws. Somebody definitely made money out of this deal and I am not talking about suppliers of the textbooks but of some people in government, he said.

He added this does not bode well for recent foreign loans and grants to boost the procurement system, since the questionable deal also involved assistance from the World Bank, whose representative he noted even interfered in the textbook procurement process.

But even the World Banks own guidelines are against collusive practices that deprive one of the benefits of free open competition, he noted.

Citing figures from the DBM Procurement Service, Lacson said the contracts involved the supply and delivery of textbooks and teachers manuals on Sibika Grades 1-3; Heograpiya, Kasaysayan at Sibika (HeKaSi) Grades 4-6; and Araling Panlipunan Years I-IV.

He said the government awarded the contracts to Watana Phanit Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd.; Vibal Publishing House Inc.; and Daewoo International Corp. last Sept. 25.

Watana was awarded a contract to print 2,351,274 Sibika 2 textbooks worth $1,817,294.57 and 67,379 teachers manuals worth P433,095.95; 2,092,674 HeKaSi 4 textbooks worth $1,900,269.35 and 59,976 teachers manuals worth P379,767.80; and 1,537,599 HeKaSi 5 textbooks worth $1,402,697.31 and 44,068 teachers manuals worth P238,759.25.

Vibal was awarded a contract to print 2,937,680 Sibika I textbooks and 84,104 teachers manuals worth P133,262,266.45; 1,259,160 Sibika 3 textbooks and 36,068 teachers manuals worth P53,916,963.70; and 500,466 HeKaSi 5 textbooks and 14,355 teachers manuals worth P21,663,429.80.

Daewoo was awarded a contract to produce 952,804 Sibika 3 textbooks worth $791,590.28 and 7,311 teachers manuals worth P12,840,623.

But as early as Feb. 28 this year, the Inter-Agency Bids and Awards Committee had already disqualified Vibal and Watana from the bidding due to conflict of interest.

On the other hand, Lacson noted that Watana Phanit, SD Publishing, Alkem and JTW are all partners of the Vibal Group, resulting in unfair competition for the Vibal Group.

Worse, he said the World Bank came to the rescue of Vibal by choosing to disregard the violation.

Lacson filed Resolution 570 directing the Senate committees on education, arts and culture; and accountability of public officers and investigations to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the matter.

Each company of the Vibal Group bids for and against each other to create the appearance of competition and in collusion with each other ... These are grounds for disqualification for clear violation of the Procurement Act and Bidding Guidelines. However, despite the antecedent violations, the companies of the V-Group have never been disqualified anent the obvious ground for their ineligibility, he said.

He added Vibal has been a very fortunate group, having been awarded 75.96 percent of the bids from 1999 to 2004 or P2,658,756,511 and for being favored by an influential institution who bends its own rule just to accommodate their desired end.

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