Senate fails to arrest former PS-DBM head Lao

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 10) —  The Senate failed to arrest the former head of the Budget department's procurement service (PS-BDM), Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, who was cited in contempt for snubbing the Blue Ribbon Committee's hearings on the government's pandemic supply deals.

Senate security tried to serve the arrest order on Tuesday, but Lao was nowhere to be found in his address in Metro Manila.

"We attempted to serve the arrest order for Atty. Lao in his known address in Metro Manila. But the residential condo was unoccupied and reported to be in another individual's name," Senate Sergeant-at-Arms retired Maj. Gen. Rene Samonte told CNN Philippines in a text message.

Samonte said they will again try to serve the arrest order in Lao's other addresses in the Visayas and Mindanao "within the next coming days."

Lao skipped the past four hearings of the Blue Ribbon Committee. He stopped appearing after President Rodrigo Duterte barred Cabinet members from attending the inquiry.

But committee chairman Richard Gordon pointed out that Lao is not covered by the President's order since he is no longer a government official.

The Senate has also failed to arrest Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. executives Mohit and Twinkle Dargani. Both are allegedly "in hiding."

They were cited in contempt for refusing to submit documents subpoenaed by senators.

Another Pharmally official - Linconn Ong - has been detained in the Senate since September for allegedly lying and evading lawmakers' questions.

The Senate is investigating PS-DBM's deal with Pharmally for the procurement of "overpriced" personal protective equipment and COVID-19 testing kits.

CNN Philippines' correspondent Eimor Santos and multi-platform news writer Vince Ferreras contributed to this report