Senate orders arrest of former PS-DBM exec Lao, key figure in Pharmally mess


SENATE probers looking into the allegedly anomalous multibillion-peso contracts for pandemic supplies cited in contempt and ordered the arrest of no-show key witness Lloyd Christopher Lao, former officer-in-charge of the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) that approved the transactions.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Friday confirmed signing the arrest order against Lao after the investigating Blue Ribbon Committee found Lao in contempt for snubbing invitations to appear before the panel to shed light on, among others, the controversial award of several contracts—worth an estimated total of P10 billion—by PS-DBM to Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp. and several others.

 “I signed the order just now,” Sotto said.

Senate probers led by Sen. Richard J. Gordon, Blue Ribbon chairman, said the move to issue a contempt citation and arrest order was triggered by Lao’s no show in the last four hearings of the Senate.

He stopped attending the virtual hearings shortly after President Duterte barred Cabinet officials from further attending the Blue Ribbon inquiry, claiming that Gordon and the senators just wanted to get political mileage from it.

Lao, however, is not a Cabinet member, and had resigned his post as DBM undersecretary in June 2021.

Tagged as a key witness in the controversial transaction, Lao was the officer-in-charge of PS-DBM that purchased the pandemic supplies seen to favor Pharmally, a low-capital start-up with ties to former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang.

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