Senate rejects ex-PS-DBM head’s motion for reconsideration of contempt citation, arrest order

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 22) — The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee rejected resigned Department of Budget and Management Usec. Lloyd Christopher Lao’s motion for reconsideration of his contempt citation and arrest order.

In a letter dated Nov. 15, committee chairperson Senator Richard Gordon told Lao to submit himself to the Senate security personnel as soon possible if he wants the panel to act on his motion.

“If it is your wish that the committee act on your motion, we suggest that you submit yourself to the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms first at the soonest possible time,” said Gordon. “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.”

Lao, who was the former head of the Procurement Service of DBM, was cited in contempt for snubbing four Blue Ribbon Committee hearings on the government’s pandemic response supply deals.

He stopped appearing after President Rodrigo Duterte barred Cabinet members from attending the inquiry.

In his motion dated Nov. 5, Lao argued that he "faithfully” appeared in nine successive committee hearings from August 25 to Sept. 30. He added that he has been “candid” and “truthfully” answered all the questions.

However, Lao said that he was “berated, insulted, maligned, and pre-judged" during the hearings.

“I have never disrespected the Senate and will continue to give due reverence to its authority and hereby convey that I am more than willing to attend and testify if heretofore called upon in a non-hostile Senate inquiry as I would not willingly put myself into the firing line more so purposely participate in a proceeding where my constitutional rights are trampled and disregarded," Lao added.

The Senate ordered Lao’s arrest on Nov. 5 but the upper chamber’s Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms failed to arrest him. He could not be located in his addresses in Metro Manila, Cebu City, and Davao City.

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