De Lima: Ex-DBM-PS official made ‘Davao mafia’ happy

Opposition Senator Leila de Lima said she is certain that former undersecretary Christopher Lao was one of the go-to-operators and hatchmen of the Davao mafia led by President Duterte and Senator Christopher “Bong” Go.

Judging by the developments in the Senate blue ribbon committee’s hearing last Friday, De Lima noted Lao’s denial that he never worked for Go and never met the owner of Pharmally Corp. Huang Wenlie, to whom he awarded an P8-billion contract for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPEs) did not work especially after senators confronted him of his presence during the awarding of the contract together with Go and Duterte.

The former head of the procurement service of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM-PS) apparently had already made the rounds in other high government office prior to being posted to the DBM, De Lima also pointed out.

“It does not take rocket science to figure out what happened in this transaction: (Health Secretary Francisco) Duque channeled the P42-billion in DOH (Department of Health) funds to Lao, who, in turn, directly reports to the Davao mafia,” De Lima said in her latest statement.

“The Davao mafia, in turn, causes the awarding of the P8-billion PPE contract thorugh Lao to one of their Chinese buddies, Huang Wenlie, owner of Pharmally Corporation. The Davao boys are all happy,” the senator said.

Go, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, had earlier repeatedly denied that he was associated with Lao denying that the latter served as his aide.

But during the Senate hearing, Go eventually advised Duque to step down amid the issues.

Duque said he is willing to resign once the DOH has cleared the issues hurled against it.

De Lima scored the Duterte administration for accusing him and former Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II for corruption, when the President and his men’s fingerpritns “are all over the DOH-DBM” anomalous transactions.

“Duterte’s announcement that the Senate investigation will turn out nothing is, therefore, premature, to say the least, and apparently for the self-serving purpose of sweeping all evidence of corruption under the rug,” she stressed.

“With one more hearing to go, several officials from the DBM and the DOH are still expected to be on the dock, unless the Davao Mafia silences them before they do,” De Lima said.