Press Release
November 14, 2006


The World Bank has imposed sanctions on several Indonesian publishers involved in an anomalous textbook procurement program similar to the controversial textbook scam brewing at the Department of Education, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson today said.

From this, we should see that the World Bank doesnt turn a blind eye on allegations of graft and corrupt practices committed under the auspices of their loan programs, Lacson said.

Lacson earlier urged the World Bank to look into the alleged irregularities in the procurement of textbooks under its Second Social Expenditure Management Project and sought for a Senate investigation into the track record of the governments textbook procurement program.

In its ruling, the World Bank disqualified ten individuals and 26 firms from receiving any new WB-financed contracts for fraudulent and corrupt practices in relation with its Book and Reading Development Project in 2004.

Following the investigation conducted by its Department of Institutional Integrity, the World Bank declared misprocurement and requested the Indonesian government to repay $10 million from the disbursed proceeds of the loan and to prepare and implement an acceptable action plan to improve the procurement process in the education sector.

Definitely, we should try to avoid this from happening here in our country, Lacson said.

He said a procurement program tainted with corrupt practices would only result in the degradation of educational materials being used in the Philippine school system.

Lacson has vowed to push for the Senate probe on the alleged collusion and monopoly marring the World Bank-financed textbook procurement program of the DepEd.

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.

As early as February, the Inter-Agency Bids and Awards Committee had disqualified Vibal and Watana Phanit publishing companies due to `conflict of interest arising from its inter-locking officers and board of directors.

The World bank, however, `came to the rescue of the two bidders and asked the DepEd to lift the disqualification.

Lacson also noted that Vibal has been a `very fortunate group, having been awarded 75.96 percent of the bids from 1999 to 2004 under the World Bank-sponsored grant. This is a blatant and gross violation of procurement laws and ultimately merits the attention and intervention of the World Bank department of institutional integrity, Lacson said.

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