Lao hits Senate blue ribbon panel for being hostile during hearing

Former budget and management undersecretary Christopher Lao on Tuesday accused the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee of being hostile as senators questioned him about his application for the Overall Deputy Ombudsman post.

At the continuation of the panel’s investigation into the alleged overpriced COVID-19 supplies, Senator Richard Gordon asked the former head of the Department of Budget and Management’s procurement service (DBM-PS) to explain about the withdrawal of his application to one of the key posts in the Office of the Ombudsman.

Lao explained that he withdrew because certain politicians have criticized him over his application. But when pressed to name who the politician who criticized him, Lao refused and said it is not in his nature to name drop politicians.

This prompted Gordon to tell Lao: “I don’t care if it’s in your nature, it’s in the nature of justice to find the truth.”

“Hindi kita binubully sagutin mo lang ang tanong (I am not bullying you, just answer the question). You’re being evasive again, sasabihin mo binubully kita,” the Senate blue ribbon committee chief further told Lao.

To which Lao retorted: “I believe the situation in Senate investigations is hostile when the answers propounded are not satisfactory.”

An irritated Gordon reminded Lao that it is him who is evasive in answering questions posed by lawmakers.

“You do not want to answer, now we’re hostile?” Gordon pointed out.

Still, Lao refused to disclose the name of the politician because it makes him “uncomfortable.”

“You’re forcing me to mention names, which I don’t want to do because I believe, people’s names who are not part of me should remain private,” Lao told the panel.

“If they want to air their side and say they are the ones who said it, let them be. But kung ako sabihin mo ‘a hindi, si ganito, si ganyan’ (when somebody says he is this and that), I’m not that kind of person,” he added.

“Kaya nga nag-withdraw din ako sa application kasi magulo...mag-a-apply ka tapos ang daming insinuations (That’s why I withdrew my application because it was chaotic. You want to apply but there are so many speculations),” Lao explained.

Gordon reminded Lao that the questions being posed by the Senate are legitimate.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senate President Vicente Sotto III agreed with Gordon.

Sotto said that compared to senators in the past, senators in the 18th Congress “are very kind.” Drilon agreed with Sotto.

“Itong 18th Congress na mga senador, napakababait. ‘Yung mga kamo’y pinuputol 'yung sagot, 'yung mga whatever, ganyan, wala, mild na mild ‘yan (The senators who are part of the 18th Congress are very kind. If you're saying they interrupt while you are answer, that's very mild compared to the senators in the previous congresses),” Sotto said.

Lao, however, still refused to disclose the politician who criticized his application. Gordon decided to leave the matter, remarking that Lao “does not respect the Filipino people...and that is my conclusion.”