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Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Rejects Lao’s Appeal To Quash Arrest Warrant

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Rejects Lao’s Appeal To Quash Arrest Warrant
Former Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management head Lloyd Christopher Lao

The Senate Blue Ribbon committee has rejected the request of Lloyd Christopher Lao, former head of the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM), that the contempt and arrest order against him be lifted as he committed to testify at the next hearing of the panel on Friday, Nov. 26.

In his letter to Lao dated Nov. 15, Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee, told Lao that he has not appeared before the committee in the last four hearings – Oct. 5, Oct. 19, Oct. 28 and Nov. 4 –“despite due notice,” forcing the panel to cite him in contempt.

“After the citation and an order of arrest had been duly issued, you have made yourself even more scarce, exhibiting your lack of respect for legal processes of a duly constituted authority,” Gordon said.

He said if Lao wants the committee to act on his motion for reconsideration, he should surrender to the Senate sergeant-at-arms first at the soonest possible time.

“In the meantime the order of arrest will continue to subsist and the search for your person will not cease until the sergeant-at-arms is able to take you into custody,” Gordon said. “You are a lawyer, and thus need not be reminded what presumption flight creates.”

Lao was cited in contempt last Nov. 4 for what the committee said was his refusal to cooperate in the ongoing inquiry into the alleged multibillion-peso anomalies in the procurement of COVID-19 supplies, particularly on supply contracts that went to companies allegedly favored by top officials of the administration.

It was not clear how Gordon’s response was sent to Lao, who apparently is in hiding and continues to be hunted by personnel from the Office Senate Sergeant-at-Arms (OSAA).

The OSAA earlier was able to nab siblings Mohit and Twinkle Dargani, owners of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., that was awarded with at least P8.5 billion in contracts by the PS-DBM when it was still headed by Lao to supply face masks, face shields, personal protective equipment sets or PPEs and test kits.

In his letter to Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Gordon on Nov. 5, Lao stressed that he respects the committee “with sincere intention to help it obtain facts or gather information relative to the procurement of the needed medical supplies at the height of the pandemic.”

Lao said he religiously attended and actively participated in nine hearings that each lasted for several hours.