Forget It: Education Dep’t nixes PHP4.2 million bidding over Christmas ham and cheese

Photo: Waldemar Brandt/Unsplash
Photo: Waldemar Brandt/Unsplash

Were you wondering why the words “ham and cheese” were all over Twitter during the weekend?

That’s because the Department of Education announced that it is canceling a multi-million peso procurement for ham and cheese for its office Christmas party due to the onslaught of multiple typhoons that have destroyed large parts of the Philippines.

Read: No face-to-face learning until COVID-19 vax is available, says Education Secretary

The cancellation happened after netizens blasted the department for planning the procurement, which they said was ill-timed and insensitive given the multiple crises this year.

Public Affairs Director June Arvin Gudoy said in a statement that instead of blowing away PHP4.2 million (US$87,177) on these party treats, they will give the money to employees who have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the onslaught of typhoons Goni and Vamco, which drenched large swaths of Metro Manila, Pampanga, Cagayan, and the Bicol region. It occurred to them that spending so much money on a party was “inappropriate.”

The Education Department called for public bidding for the ham and cheese on Nov. 11 on its official website, but the page has since been deleted.

“Other regional and division offices not affected by the typhoons have also pitched in to help our teachers and learners on the ground,” Gudoy said.

Read: Education Dep’t warns against outdated books as PH students dive into blended learning

“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,” the education official added.

Despite the cancellation of the bidding, however, Filipinos were still incensed over the idea that the department initially wanted to spend so much money on a party while countless students and teachers have been suffering from blended learning.

Someone using the handle @staynayo wrote, “[T]eachers had to walk through rivers to get the modules to their students, some modules are detective, and some are literally dying this very moment, AND YOU’RE TELLING ME THAT DEPED ALMOST USED 4.2 MILLION PESOS FOR FRICKING HAM AND CHEESE.”

User @jungwonhd wrote, “[P]andemic?? [N]ah, here’s dolomite for your mental health. [S]tate of calamity? [A]cademic freeze??
[N]ah, here’s P4M worth of ham and cheese. now tell me, why are you still not mad?”

He referred to the multi-million peso dolomite sand dumped on Manila Bay, a move that the Duterte government said was planned way before the pandemic occurred. Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said that a cleaner Manila Bay could improve people’s mental health, which he said was necessary given the stress brought by the pandemic.

“[S]ome people are dead, submerged in 15ft of water, some are still not even rescued yet, some don’t even have clean water to drink or good to eat…. and DepEd …. What a time for you to worry about your ham and cheese !!!” ranted @yongjjang0094.

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