For failing to attend four times the Senate hearings on the multi-billion peso COVID funds used to buy medical supplies, the Upper Chamber on Friday released a warrant of arrest against former Budget Undersecretary Christopher Lloyd Lao.
Lao was then the officer-in-charge of the Procurement Service of the DBM (PS-DBM) when the government procured alleged overpriced PPEs, face shields, and face masks in 2020.
The one-page order signed by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Richard Gordon, chairperson of the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigation (Blue Ribbon) directed the arrest of Lao for his refusal to attend the hearings on October 5, 19, 28 and November 4, 2021.
Senator Francis Pangilinan asked the Blue Ribbon committee to cite Lao in contempt and be arrested. This was seconded by Sen. Risa Hontiveros.
The order also tasked the Senate-sergeant-at arms to carry out the arrest.
Gordon noted since Lao was no longer a government official, he was not covered by President Rodrigo Duterte's Executive Order which banned Cabinet officials and employees from attending the Senate hearings Senate Sergeant-at-Arms retired Major General Rene Samonte said his officers would serve the arrest order against Lao even if he was not in Metro Manila.
“If we receive it (arrest order), we will just prepare the administrative requirements, and even if he is out of town, we will serve and implement the arrest order,” said Samonte.
During the Senate panel's previous hearings, Lao said he went back to Davao City after he left his post in DBM.
The Senate is investigating the transfer of P42 billion COVID-19 funds from the Department of Health to the PS-DBM during the time of Lao.