Gordon refuses to lift arrest order on ex-DBM exec Lao


SEN. Richard J. Gordon, chairman of an ongoing Senate inquiry into alleged anomalies in the Duterte administration’s purchase of
anti-Covid supplies, rejected an appeal by the former Officer-in-Charge of the Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management (DBM-PS) to lift an arrest order earlier issued after he skipped four hearings.

The Gordon-led Blue Ribbon Committee is set to resume the inquiry on Friday (November 26) to dig deeper into the case, with the chief prober, expecting all resource persons invited, will appear and testify to avoid being cited in contempt, including Lloyd Christopher Lao.

The former DBM undersecretary was pivotal in the awarding of bulk of P42 billion in pandemic-response funds moved by the Department of Health (DOH) to PS-DBM, to which it outsourced its bidding chores. That fund transfer was flagged by the Commission on Audit for not being covered by a memorandum of agreement, sparking the Senate inquiry.

Past BRC hearings have focused much on a total of P10 billion in contracts that Lao awarded to Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp., a low-capital start-up believed funded by President Duterte’s friend and former presidential adviser Michael Yang.

For his part, Lao aired an appeal and said there was no need for Gordon’s committee to enforce an order to have him arrested by Senate process servers as he intends to attend the next hearing of the Blue Ribbon

Until it is lifted, however, the Office of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms (OSSA) process servers are duty bound to enforce the order to ensure Lao’s presence at the inquiry.

Earlier, Lao wrote Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Gordon after the Blue Ribbon issued a Senate arrest order on November 5, dismayed by Lao’s failure to attend, even virtually, four committee hearings on the case.

In his letter, Lao noted he had been present in nine hearings, as a sign of respect for the authority of the Senate. He also assured senators he was “more than willing” to attend the next committee hearing, but hoped the proceeding would be “non-hostile.” He added he would not put himself in a firing line at the hearing where his constitutional right
would be discarded. 

For his part, Gordon said the Blue Ribbon panel will only consider lifting the order to OSSAA if Lao volunteers to show up before the process servers.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

Leave a Reply