The former Budget undersecretary being linked to the alleged overpriced procurement of face masks and face shields for the Department of Health (DOH) on Friday expressed willingness to attend the Senate investigation.
“I believe in the objectivity of the Senate blue ribbon committee that is fair and just. It is a proper and appropriate avenue for me to shed light on what actually transpired,” former Department of Budget and Management Undersecretary Lloyd Lao said during the day’s Laging Handa briefing.
“I am being sought after to shed light to discuss my participation in the procurement process that is being questioned. Of course, it is my responsibility and I am willing to attend to shed light on the matter.”
Lao’s name was mentioned during the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on Wednesday when lawmakers raised the issue of overpriced face shields and face masks that were earlier flagged by the Commission on Audit.
DBM officer-in-charge Tina Rose Canda told the Senate panel that it was during Lao’s term when the Procurement Service of the DBM (PS-DBM) procured bulks of face masks bought at a price of P27.22 each and face shields at P120 each.
Lao, during the Laging Handa briefing, said the items procured were not overpriced and they were in fact the cheapest they could purchase during that time.
“It is actually a good thing to attend [a Senate hearing] because people make assumptions without all the facts. One of the appropriate avenues is the Senate blue ribbon. I would definitely attend,” he said.
No ties with Bong Go
Also during the Laging Handa briefing, Lao was also asked to shed light on his supposed ties with Senator Bong Go, President Rodrigo Duterte’s former special assistant.
Lao lamented how his government stint was being “politicized.”
“But to politicize it that I’m connected to this and that, these transactions, politics, maybe, but I am not a politician. I’m just any other Filipino who wants to try to apply, try his luck in the community. That’s it. To politicize it is very unfair,” he said.
“For the politicians that have been tied up to me, that’s unfair to them, more so for me because I’m doing this for my own profession,” he added.
Go has earlier denied that Lao was his former aide.
“I wish to clarify that contrary to claims of some personalities and news outlets, former Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao of the DBM Procurement Services was never my aide,” Go said in a statement Thursday.
“To call him such is inaccurate,” he added. “He was a volunteer election lawyer of President Duterte in 2016 and was appointed to the Presidential Management.”
On Twitter, former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, citing news reports, claimed that Lao used to be Go’s aide. He also said that Lao was the “same person implicated in the Frigate scam along with Duterte and Bong Go.”
Lao previously applied for the Overall Deputy Ombudsman position, but had withdrawn his application to avoid “senseless” speculations.
The former DBM official said he is planning to go into private practice.
“Nakakapagod [It’s exhausting] that you want to do something good, prove something to yourself, people make a lot of things,” Lao said.
“It’s best for me to stay out of politics because you can never isolate yourself from politics even if you’re not a politician,” he said. —KBK, GMA News