MANILA, Philippines —First, it was the Pharmally scandal. Now, it’s the DepEd laptop fiasco.
Lloyd Christopher Lao, the former head of the Department of Budget and Management – Procurement Service (PS-DBM), is in trouble again.
On Friday, Senator Risa Hontiveros called for the summoning of Lao, after the Commission on Audit flagged the Department of Education’s ()DepEd) purchase of laptops through the PS-DBM that was “pricey for an entry-level type laptop.”
As a member of the Blue Ribbon Committee, Hontiveros said her office has already begun working on a resolution.
“Parang lagi nalang may cast of characters — nagpa-part two, nagpa-part three ng kanilang dating gawi. Naisasama talaga maya’t maya ang pangalan ni dating PS-DBM Usec. Lao,” Hontiveros said in an interview on Radyo Singko.
(There always seems to be a cast of characters whose moves have a second or third act. The name of PS-DBM Usec. When Lao is involved, problems always arise.)
“So tingin ko, hindi lang nakasentro dito sa overpriced laptops sa ating education system pero yung nagiging repeat performances ng PS-DBM, lalo na sa ilalim ni dating Usec. Lao sa ganitong mga kwestiyonableng transaksyon… Kapag didinigin na ang resolusyon, kailangan naming tawagin muli si dating Usec. Lao,” she added.
(I think the issue does not center on the overpriced laptops for our education system but the repeated performances of PS-DBM under Usec. Lao on these questionable transactions… When the resolution is heard, we will summon him again.)
Initially, Lao’s name first surfaced during the investigation of the Senate blue ribbon committee on the Pharmally deal during the COVID-19 pandemic when the public was grappling with its effects.
Throughout the hearings, it became evident that the Department of Health, under the direction of the PS-DBM, had purchased “overpriced” pandemic response supplies from Pharmally, as part of its pandemic response plan. These products included face masks and face shields.
The company was awarded P8.6 billion worth of government contracts despite only having a capital of P625,000.