A Senate investigation normally ferrets out possible anomalies or irregularities in government transactions. It delves into the circumstances that may have led to overpriced contracts and possible misuse of public funds.
The Senate probe, however, may also inflict harm on the reputation of a person or entity at the center of the controversy, especially if the facts are blurred or the information are lacking during the initial stages of the inquisition. The public may already render judgment on the subject person or company based on the raw and incomplete facts gathered during the course of investigation. Reputations are built overtime but they can be tarnished overnight by impetuous actions.
The Senate blue ribbon committee began its investigation two weeks ago into the government’s procurement of laptop units for public school teachers during the pandemic. The probe was triggered by a Commission on Audit (COA) report describing the laptops purchased by the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) for the Department of Education (DepEd) as “pricey and outdated.”
The hearings last week remained focused on the pre-bidding aspect of the procurement deal, with several senators raising many questions that require answers from officials of the DepEd and PS-DBM.
DepEd officials present during the last hearing, meanwhile, stressed that the laptops delivered to the teachers did not consist of the units alone. The procurement involved add-ons, such as the operating system, security and other software, and nationwide technical support covering a three-year period. The procurement also included a condition that the supplier provide a replacement laptop if any of the units need repair within the extended warranty period. The supplier held the responsibility of delivering the units nationwide through the DepEd’s regional offices.
Since the start of the probe, the representatives of the joint venture (JV) that won the bidding for the laptop contract were always around ready to answer any questions from the senators. They just need a longer time to reply to questions addressed to the DepEd and the PS-DBM that surfaced during the inquiry.
The JV of Sunwest Construction and Development Corp., LDLA Marketing and Trading Inc. and VST ECS Philippines Inc. secured the contract to supply the laptop units.
LDLA Marketing, one of the companies in the JV, appears to be an unknown entity to many unfamiliar with the players in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector. This lack of awareness has resulted in erroneous and unfair speculations about LDLA.
The public may not have heard of LDLA, but well-known corporate brands in the ICT industry such as Microsoft, Dell, Cisco, FireEye, Darktrace and Informatica have long been teaming up with the firm in executing its modernization projects.
LDLA continues to make its mark in the industry through ambitious projects such as the Smart Campus of the Mindanao State University (MSU). Over 10,000 students and almost 5,000 teachers have benefited from the ICT modernization program of MSU, fueled by LDLA’s innovative digital solutions and distribution of almost 20,000 computers for the project.
Another LDLA project is benefiting motorists and commuters alike. Its Road Safety Interactive Center for the Land Transportation Office (LTO) utilizes innovations in audio, video and technology to heighten public awareness about road safety, traffic laws and best practices. Another project of LDLA with the LTO is the Information Technology Hub aimed at expanding LTO’s technical database and IT infrastructure to improve drivers’ training and other aspects of its functions.
A few weeks ago, LDLA’s name surfaced anew in the media, but not because of the current controversy. Vertiv, which news reports described as “a global provider of critical digital infrastructure and continuity solutions,” named LDLA as among its outstanding partners and 2021 SEA (Southeast Asia) Business Development awardee (government), along with Northgate Technologies Inc. (retail) and Machine & Computerworld Inc. (e-commerce).
The awarding ceremony for Vertiv’s partners were held last month in Bangkok. Aside from LDLA, Northgate and Machine & Computerworld, six other ICT companies from the Philippines were recognized by Vertiv as among its outstanding partners.
Priding itself as a “future-ready” technology firm, Vertiv is a publicly listed company in the New York Stock Exchange. It reported revenues of about US$5 billion in 2021. Vertiv employs over 24,000 people worldwide and has headquarters in Ohio in the USA, and regional offices in China, India, the Philippines and Italy. Inarguably, being recognized by a corporation as prestigious and expansive as Vertiv is nothing to sneeze at.
Vertiv, which does business in over 130 countries, was apparently impressed by LDLA’s track record when it chose the firm as among its trusted Philippine partners.
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