Senators on Thursday, November 4, cited in contempt Lloyd Christopher Lao for not attending the Senate blue ribbon committee hearings on alleged overpriced pandemic procurement.
Lao, who was chief of the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget Management (PS-DBM) that awarded the questionable contracts, has been skipping hearings despite not being covered by President Rodrigo Duterte’s order barring Cabinet members to attend Senate inquiries.
The motion to cite Lao in contempt was raised by Senator Francis Pangilinan and was seconded by Senator Risa Hontiveros. Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Richard Gordon adopted the motion.
“So, we order him in contempt because he has not been appearing, and escaping. And I don’t think we need to issue a show cause order. He is still needed here because he needs to do a lot of explanation,” Gordon said.
The Senate has the power to hold in contempt its resource speakers who snub subpoenas and testify falsely or evasively. It also gives them the power to have them detained.
In the previous hearings, senators cited in contempt Duterte’s former adviser Michael Yang for failing to show up, and Pharmally director Linconn Ong for his evasive answers. The Senate blue ribbon committee has issued a warrant of arrest against Yang while Ong is now in detention.
Pharmally, a small, newly formed company led by a Singaporean wanted in Taiwan, has been the subject of long-running congressional hearings. Senators have questioned how the firm, which lacked the capability and credibility to engage in big ticket government procurement, obtained the most government pandemic contracts worth billions of pesos.
Lao, a Davao lawyer who worked in Duterte’s presidential campaign, was at the helm of the PS-DBM when it awarded Pharmally most of its contracts. – Rappler.com