Senate security fails to arrest Lao in NCR, to search for him outside Luzon

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
Senate security fails to arrest Lao in NCR, to search for him outside Luzon
Former Budget Usec. Lloyd Christopher Lao fields questions from senators during a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on September 10, 2021.
Screen grab / Senate of the Philippines YouTube page

MANILA, Philippines — Senate security on Wednesday said it has been unable to arrest former Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao who was cited in contempt last week for flouting blue ribbon panel hearings on the anomalous contracts he awarded to Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. 

"[W]e attempted to serve the arrest order in his known address in [M]etro [M]anila, but the [r]esidential condo was unoccupied and reported to be in another individual's name," Rene Samonte, Senate sergeant-at-arms, told Philstar.com. 

"We will serve again in at least [four] given addresses in [M]indanao and [the V]isayas, within the next coming days after completing admin and logistical requirements."

Lao, former chief of the Department of Budget and Management's procurement service, is the latest personality involved in the government's controversial deals with its favored pandemic supplier to dodge a warrant for arrest and detention. 

He joins Pharmally executives Mohit Dargani and Twinkle Dargani who are still at large despite being cited in contempt for refusing to show the Senate panel source documents related to the firm's transactions with PS-DBM. 

Samonte said seven attempts have been made so far to arrest the Dargani siblings since they were first ordered detained on October 19. "Aside from the [two] condos, we served in a residential subdivision which turned out vacant also."

Lao stopped attending the hearings around the same time a memorandum was issued by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea barring officials from attending hearings related to the blue ribbon's inquiry.

The directive came from President Rodrigo Duterte who has become increasingly frustrated with the inquiry and has defended his appointees, including Lao, who are embroiled in the controversy. But senators, who have vowed to question the memo in the Supreme Court, noted that Lao is no longer a public official and is therefore not covered by the order. 

The warrant for Lao's arrest was signed by Senate President Vicente Sotto III on November 5, a day after he skipped his fourth hearing in a row. 

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 31, 2022 - 2:52pm

Follow this page for development on the government's allegedly overpriced pandemic response deals.

Photo credit: Screen grab from Senate of the Philippines YouTube page

January 31, 2022 - 2:52pm

The House committee on good government and public accountability recommends the filing of syndicated estafa against directors and officers of Pharmally, Rep. Michael Aglipay (DIWA Party-list) says.

The House panel recommends filing the charges against Huang Tzu Yen, Mohit Dargani, Twinkle Dargani, Lincoln Ong, Justine Garado and Krizle Mago before the Department of Justice.

The committee also recommends the filing of falsification of public documents against Jorge Mendoza II and Mervin Ian Tanquintic of the PS-DBM Inspection Division before the Office of the Ombudsman.

November 29, 2021 - 9:47am

Pasay City jail is prepared for the transfer of Pharmally executives to its facility, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology says.

BJMP spokesperson says the prison does not have a separate facility except for the isolation area intended for newly committed persons deprived of liberty as part of health protocols.

"Walang special treatment. Walang preferential attention para sa kanila," BJMP spokesperson Xavier Solda says.

October 19, 2021 - 11:39am

Ahead of today's hearing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque tells the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that no officials from the DOH will able to attend.

Duque says this is because the memorandum barring them from attending hearing connected to the investigation is still in effect.

The DOH chief adds that President Rodrigo Duterte directed them to "give way to equally important COVID-19 response activities." — report from Bella Perez-Rubio


October 4, 2021 - 12:31pm

In a House hearing, Pharmally's Krizle Mago claims that her previous statement that the firm switched out the expiry dates of face shields sold to government was a "pressured response."

Senate President Tito Sotto, however, says they will leave it to the Ombudsman to assess later on.

"A statement made under oath incriminating oneself has more weight than a recantation," Sotto says. — Bella Perez-Rubio

October 1, 2021 - 7:00pm

House blue ribbon panel chair Mike Aglipay says that Pharmally executive Krizle Grace Mago has just been placed under protective custody of the chamber’s sgt-at-arms.

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