DepEd cancels ₱4.2-M Christmas ham and cheese bidding

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 15) — After drawing flak online, the Department of Education said over the weekend that it had canceled its supposed bidding of more than ₱4 million worth of ham and cheese for the Christmas celebration of its central office.

In a statement on Saturday, DepEd said such procurement would be "inappropriate" amid the recent disasters.

"We have since reallocated the funds for the needs of those affected by typhoons Rolly and Ulysses and the ongoing COVID-19 efforts for our employees," it said.

Netizens on Facebook and Twitter took a swipe at the agency after a screenshot of its web page showed an invitation for bidding on a project named "Supply and Delivery of Ham and Cheese for DepEd Central Office Christmas Celebration" worth ₱4,278,000.

The invitation read that this is equivalent to 4,260 hams and 2,160 cheese supplies that were supposed to go to the agency's officials.

The DepEd then deleted the planned purchase on its own website on Saturday.

It also said that regional and division offices which were not affected by the typhoons have already pitched in to help teachers and learners on the ground who were affected by the typhoon.

"After Bicol, our Undersecretaries for Field Operations and Administration will also visit our schools in Cagayan soonest to check the needs of our schools. The welfare of our teachers and learners remains to be our priority and more so at this time."

In a statement on Saturday, Teachers' Dignity Coalition chair Benjo Basas lauded the education department for canceling its bidding, but noted that its initial decision was "unnecessary and insensitive, aside from being inappropriate."

Citing DepEd Order 114 series of 2009, Basas noted that Christmas celebrations in the agency should be "simple but meaningful, and in fact encourages the field to divert the funds or savings to donations for communities affected by disasters."

He added that the invitation to bid was posted on November 12, the very day Typhoon Ulysses devastated Luzon, and rescue operations were being done among localities still reeling from the aftermath of Typhoon Quinta and Super Typhoon Rolly.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Ulysses left at least 37 people who were confirmed dead, while 15 others remain missing in critical areas hit by the typhoon.