Ex-DBM official Lao no-show in Senate hearing vs Pharmally amid arrest order

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 26 2021 03:39 PM

MANILA— Former budget undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao on Friday skipped the continuation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the government's handling of COVID-19 funds, days after he asked lawmakers to reconsider his arrest order.

Lao earlier this week filed a "motion for reconsideration" to the panel, and appealed to its members for a "non-hostile" approach in the hearings. 

"Let [us put] on the record that he has not attended the last several hearings of the Blue Ribbon Committee of which he is a principal person... from the government that has managed to practically put the pandemic... to create a planned plunder in this pandemic situation," said the panel's chairman Richard Gordon. 

Senators, though, said the former government official should attend the proceedings first. He has already missed 5 committee hearings, including this Friday's.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson had said Lao is not covered by President Rodrigo Duterte’s order that bars government officials in the executive branch from appearing at the Senate hearings.

Senate staffers this week served an arrest order against Lao in his condominium property in Cebu, but the lawyer was not there, according to information from the Senate’s Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms (OSAA).

The Senate earlier found out that Lao was in charge of handling some P42 billion in funds that the Department of Health (DOH) transferred to the Department of Budget and Management's procurement service (PS-DBM) without proper documentation.

Lao is also being investigated for the allegedly anomalous procurement of overpriced COVID-19 pandemic supplies from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation, a 2-year-old company that bagged billions-worth of contracts from PS-DBM despite having insufficient capital.

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