Senators question ex-DBM exec Lao’s appointment
MANILA, Philippines — Senators on Friday questioned the appointment of Christopher Lloyd Lao as Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service (DBM-PS) head in 2020, speculating that he is well-connected to be able to secure the post.
During a hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee, Lao was grilled by senators on how he secured his former post and who recommended him, to which the former DBM official said no one recommended him and he only applied for the position.
This, however, did not sit well with Senate Minority leader Franklin Drilon, saying no one just applies for an undersecretary position, and it “requires, at the very leas of the secretary.”
However, recently resigned Department of Budget and Management chief Wendel Avisado said Lao was already appointed when he assumed his post as budget secretary and Lao said he was not recommended by former budget chief Benjamin Diokno.
“Ginogoyo mo kami eh. Nag-apply ka? And then bigla na lang hindi ka kilala ni Secretary Diokno, nag-apply ka? And then you were appointed as undersecretary? You know, if we did not know the bureaucracy, we will believe that but I’m telling you that your statement is not credible,” Drilon said.
“Nag-apply ka lang as undersecretary, you were not endorsed by Secretary Diokno then and the President just appointed you?” he further asked.
Senator Panfilo Lacson then speculated that Lao had applied for the position knowing that it would be vacated since his predecessor was not qualified for the job for not being a master’s degree.
If these were true, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Lao would have had some “inside information” to be able to anticipate a vacancy in the department.
However, Lao said this is “unfair to allege.”
Meanwhile, Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Richard Gordon pointed out that loyalty seems to be the “common denominator” in government appointees, pointing out that Lao seems to be “very well-connected” for securing three government positions in the last four to five years.
In 2016, Lao was assigned in the presidential management staff, then he resigned in 2017. He then became Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board chief executive officer and commissioner.
In 2020, he became an undersecretary in the DBM.
“Parang napakahina naman ng sistema natin, na mag-apply ka lang, nakakapagtaka. Undersecretary ‘yan eh, hindi ka pwede basta pumasok ng undersecretary,” Gordon said.
“You went into three positions in the last four to five years and you got the plum, the crème de la crème of positions. You must be well-connected in other words — very well connected,” he added.
Lao, however, stuck to his story that no one recommended him and he only applied to the position.
He said he initially sought a position in the Food and Drug Administration but he was not for not having a medical or health-allied experience so he searched for other positions and one of the vacancies during that time was as undersecretary in the DBM.
Senators have been grilling Lao for the procurement of allegedly overpriced medical supplies during the height of the pandemic in 2020.
Lao admitted that there could be negligence in the purchase of allegedly overpriced face masks and shields due to “lack” of time, resources, and connection to find the cheapest suppliers.
Lao’s name is also being linked with Senate committee on health chairperson Senator Bong Go.
Both Go and Lao have insisted that the latter did not report directly to the senator.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.