The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority is now in the center of scrutiny when it failed to provide the Special Training for Employment Program starting kits meant for trainees, prompting Buhay Party-list Representative Lito Atienza to intervene and use his oversight powers to know what’s really going on.
Atienza said he has been receiving numerous complaint letters of alleged corruption in the agency headed by TESDA Director General Isidro Lapeña.
“Kung kinakailangan ipatupad ang oversight function ng Kamara para malaman kung ano ang ginagawa ni TESDA Director General Lapeña dito ay gagawin natin ito,” Atienza told reporters.
One of the issues hounding TESDA now was the STEP starting kits which 2018 graduates have yet to receive their starter tools and equipment as part of their training, costing to P800 million.
STEP is a scheme of TESDA’s Scholarship program meant to give trainees a good start in their work and employment and its funding was part of 2018 National Budget especially allocated to poor and indigent TESDA trainees.
But La Peña suspended its implementation and recommended a rebidding process, which reached P1.4 billion for the procurement of the said training kits, the complaints alleged.
Atienza said that those “affected by the delays were the impoverished and marginalized, as well as the indigenous people whom our government is really reaching out providing solutions to unemployment and poverty which is the main root cause of insurgency.”
Based on a complaint letter sent to Atienza’s office, La Peña also issued a memorandum for a failure of bidding despite a winning bidder has already been determined in the procurement process. The TESDA chief was also criticized for centralizing his in the release of payments of claims of Technical Vocational Institutions and Training Centers or Providers causing much delay in producing skilled workers.
The memorandum resulted in inefficiency in the delivery of its mandated goods such as its failure to procure starter toolkits for 2018 STEP and 2019 starter toolkits for Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.
The lawmaker also said he also received reports of Lapeña’s alleged abusive behavior and his absolute power that even led to cruelty as some of TESDA’s Provincial and Regional Directors tendered resignation because of frequently being subjected to embarrassment and being shouted in public by DG Lapeña.
The complaint alleged that Lapeña even shouted at a board member during the course of a full board meeting in the TESDA Board merely because he was not appeased with the latter’s policy proposal, inflicting low morale to his subordinates and causing negative work output that triggered resignation as what the other Directors did.
Lapeña is the head of TESDA Secretariat and a member of the TESDA Board in accordance with TESDA’s Charter.
Atienza also said he will investigate the controversy that Lapeña designated himself as Chairperson of the TESDA Board which should properly belongs to the DOLE Secretary under TESDA’s Charter, and the Head of Procurement Agency of TESDA by delegation of the Board thereby giving Lapeña absolute power and control over the agency that becomes vulnerable to abuse.