A dead resource person and another with no expertise on the subject matter were invited to the third hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigating the education department’s deal for overpriced laptops, embarrassing panel chair, Sen. Francis Tolentino.

The committee found that Jose Crisologo, the lawyer who allegedly notarized the memorandum of agreement pushing for the issuance of an invitation to bid for the laptops, is already dead.

“I was informed last night that Atty. Crisologo can’t be present here today because Atty. Crisologo is already dead. So we’re trying to secure a certified copy of his death certificate and the actual cause of his death,” Sen. Francis Tolentino, who chairs the committee, said.

During the panel’s second hearing, a certain Ulysses Mora, who chaired the Bids and Awards Committee at the time of the procurement, granted the issuance of an invitation to bid on May 10, 2021, even though he said there was no signed memorandum of agreement (MOA). 

However, documents sent to the Blue Ribbon Committee showed there was a notarized MOA signed the month before that. 

“As of late May 5, 2021, PS-DBM personnel are still unaware of the existence of a signed memorandum of agreement between PS-DBM and DepEd which was notarized on February 16, 2021,” Tolentino said.

“That’s the reason why we requested the presence of the person, a certain Atty. Crisologo from Quezon City who notarized the memorandum of agreement.”

In another embarrassing moment, Tolentino asked National Bureau of Investigation Cyber Investigation and Assessment Center Director Palmer Mallari about the technical specifications of the laptops and their valuation.

But Mallari said that he is “not an expert on the quality and inferiorities or superiorities of computers and hardware.”

“Our expertise is, actually [there seems to be] a confusion. We thought you invited [us] in our capacities as cybercrime investigators…Cybercrime investigations are different from computer hardware,” he said in mixed Filipino and English.

Realizing the mistake, Tolentino apologized to Mallari and permitted him to leave the hearing.

Ronald Espartinez