House panel to invite ex-DBM exec Lao to DOH’s pandemic fund use probe
MANILA, Philippines — The House panel looking into the Department of Health’s (DOH) handling of its pandemic budget will be inviting a resigned head of the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service (DBM-PS), where over P40 billion in funds were transferred for the purchase of COVID-related items in 2020.
During Friday’s hearing of the House public accounts committee, panel chair Rep. Jose Singson Jr. directed the committee secretary to send an invitation to former Undersecretary Christopher Lao.
Lao headed the DBM-PS when over P41.4 billion were transferred to it, as confirmed by Atty. Jasonmer Uayan, who now heads the procurement body.
“I would like for us, for the committee, to be enlightened further on the real utilization of the P41.4 billion which is a substantial amount, again part of the biblical amount being talked about,” Singson said.
Lao, according to Uayan, was with the DBM-PS from 2020 until June this year.
On Wednesday, Lao’s name resurfaced in a Senate hearing, which also tackled the utilization of DOH’s pandemic funds, after senators questioned the allegedly overpriced face masks and face shields procured by the DOH through the DBM-PS.
READ: DOH also asked DBM to procure COVID-19 jabs, but got turned down
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Lao should testify at the ongoing probe of the Senate into the DOH’s use of its 2020 pandemic budget. Lao, in a public hearing on Friday, expressed willingness to appear in the hearing.
The former DBM-PS head also explained that the face masks and shields flagged as “overpriced” were the cheapest they could find at the time they were procured.
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