Roxas probes anomalous food program for schoolkids

Liberal President Senator Mar Roxas today hit the Department of Education for manipulating its bidding requirements to accommodate a favored contractor in its Food-For-School Program that would have benefited hundreds of thousands of indigent pre-school and Grade one students nationwide.
"Isusubo na lang, ninanakaw pa (It’s like stealing from the babe’s mouth)," fumed Roxas, chairman of the Senate committee on education investigating the alleged rigging in the bidding process and the award of close to P1 billion to the same company for the past three years for the supply of sub-standard noodles from Vietnam.

"Huwag nating pabayaan ang mga bata. Lumaban tayo (Let’s find those behind this scheme to cheat our own children. Let’s fight for our children’s welfare)," he stressed.
He noted reports that instant noodles acquired by the Department of Education from JEVERPS Manufacturing Corp. were without additional nutritional value and costs double than what is found in the local market.

JEVERPS have been supplying the instant noodles requirement of the DepEd’s School-Feeding program for since 2006, or for three years now.

In his testimony before Roxas’ committee yesterday, businessman Prudencio Quido Jr. claimed that the DepEd rigged the bidding for "fortified noodles with fresh eggs" in 2007 and “fortified noodles with fresh eggs and malunggay” in 2009 that JEVERPS Manufacturing Corp. won without competition.
"Surprisingly, while these projects were bid out and biddings were actually conducted, there was only one participating bidder/supplier which has been favored at the very outset and this is JEVERPS and no other," Quido said in a sworn affidavit submitted to Roxas’ committee.
Roxas filed Senate Resolution No. 985 to investigate the DepEd’s purchase of 15 million packets of instant noodles costing P284 million for almost 800,000 pre-school and Grade 1 students nationwide.

Quido told Roxas that the government could have lost P170 million in 2007 and another P251 million in 2009 because of the following anomalies in the bidding process:
  • While noodles bought in the local market cost only P4.50 for every 55-g packets, the DepEd bought each pack of noodles from JEVERPS P18.00 for every 100-g packet be cause it allegedly contained “fresh egg.”In this year’s school feeding program, the DepEd allegedly plans to buy each packet of noodle for P22.00 for every 100-g packet because it allegedly contain "fresh eggs and malunggay."
  • The bidding was designed to favor only one company, JEVERPS, because no other local company packs noodles for 100 grams a piece.
  • There was mislabeling of the noodle packs because it claims that each pack contains "fresh egg" a violation of the "terms of reference" that the DepEd imposed in the bidding for the 2007 at 2009 programs.
  • Laboratory tests showed the noodle packs actually contained only powdered egg instead of “fortified noodles with fresh egg” in the 2007 program.
  • There is no adequate supply of malunggay so each of the 15 million packs of noodles that will be supplied by JEVERPS in 2009 could contain it as required by DepEd.
  • JEVERPS has no “license to operate” from the Bureau of Food and Drug (BFAD).

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