THE SENATE Blue Ribbon Committee has summoned a former Budget official to Wednesday’s hearing on the Health department’s alleged mishandling of the anti-coronavirus funds. 

Senator Richard J. Gordon, chair of the committee, issued a subpoena to Lloyd Cristopher Lao, former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) undersecretary, who was in charge of funds used to purchase allegedly overpriced face masks and face shields last year.   

Mr. Lao, who resigned in June as head of the Procurement Service under DBM, said in a Malacañang briefing last week that the bulk purchase of masks and shields, respectively costing P27.72 and P120 per piece, were the “cheapest” at that time.   

He said he will be appearing before the Senate committee. “I believe in the objectivity of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that is fair and just. It is a proper and appropriate avenue for me to shed light on what actually transpired.”  

Mr. Gordon said in a statement, “He will be asked to explain the circumstances of such procurement. It is important that he appears because there are so many questions that need answers.” 

The senator also noted that DBM Undersecretary Tina Rose Marie L. Canada said that Mr. Lao was previously investigated “over procurement of overpriced medical supplies and equipment.” — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan