THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) is conducting an inventory of seized computers and mobile devices to determine their suitability for donation to the Department of Education (DepEd), in aid of the latter’s remote learning operations.

Citing a report from Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero, the Department of Finance (DoF) said in a statement Thursday that the agency is currently tallying how many seized devices can be donated.

“We are just conducting an inventory, and seeking clearance from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) if these can be donated,” Mr. Guerrero was quoted as saying.

The BoC turned over 198 laptops and 4,840 mobile phones to the DepEd on Jan. 29, all of the goods seized in the course of Customs operations.

The BoC is authorized by law to dispose of confiscated, abandoned and forfeited cargo via public auction, donation, official use by the bureau, negotiated sale, re-export, destruction, and turnover to other government agencies. These powers stem from Customs Administrative Order No. 03-2020 dated Jan. 21, 2020.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the DoF modernization is facilitating the seizure of smuggled devices, which can be tapped in support of the DepEd’s blended learning efforts.

“Our customs officers have continuously modernized their processes and intensified their efforts to combat illicit trade,” Mr. Dominguez was quoted as saying in the statement.

The pandemic forced schools to go online as lockdowns and the fear of infection disrupt face-to-face classes.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte rejected in late February a proposal to hold limited face-to-face classes due to the lack of vaccines at the time.

Seven senators last week filed a resolution asking the government to pilot-test physical classes in 1,065 schools in low-risk areas, to minimize the adverse impact on the quality of education. — Beatrice M. Laforga