Senate President Vicente Sotto III

Senate President Vicente Sotto III (File photo from a video of the Senate Public Relations and Information Bureau)

MANILA, Philippines—  Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III questioned the plan of the Presidential Broadcast Staff–Radio Television Malacañang’s  (RTVM) to buy eight laptops next year amounting to a total of P2.2 million.

According to Sotto, the laptops will be used for video editing and “for Davao team use” based on briefing materials submitted to the Senate.

“I was supposed to let it pass because laptops are normally procured by agencies anyway,” Sotto said during the Senate plenary deliberations on the proposed 2022 budget of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) late Monday night.

“However, when my staff computed the cost of one unit of laptop, I believe it’s worth inquiring now. Based on the aforecited data, one unit of laptop costs 280,000. Parang mahal,” he  he said.

Based on his staff’s own research, Sotto said the most expensive laptop this year would only cost P190,000.

“Can we get an explanation  why the agency will purchase a laptop as expensive  as this one and why is it entitled for Davao team use only?” Sotto further asked.

Sen.  Richard Gordon, who was defending the PCOO budget, said he was told that the laptops are “extremely high end”  and intended for Davao use since President Rodrigo Duterte was always in his home province anyway.

But Gordon said the PCOO gave an assurance that “upon the change of administration,” the laptops would be brought back to Malacañang.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who was presiding over the session, also got curious and asked about the brand of the “extremely high end” laptops.

“They say it’s an Apple MacBook. I don’t know what’s so spectacular about it,” Gordon said.


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