Ex-Rep. Andaya links Diokno to Lao’s appointment to PS-DBM; Diokno says he wasn’t involved

Former Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. on Wednesday tagged incumbent Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno in the appointment of controversial former Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao.advertisement

In a previous Senate hearing, several senators took issue with Lao’s appointment in high-level posts, including the head of Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM), the office being linked to the procurement of overpriced medical supplies last year at the start of the  COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to Andaya, the PS-DBM role is only to buy office and bathroom supplies for all government agencies.

“Ang PS po isang maliit na opisina. Ang trabaho po niyan sa simpleng salita ho ay bumili ng papel at ballpen para sa buong gobyerno [PS-DBM is only a small office. It’s role is only to buy paper and ballpen for government],” Andaya told Super Radyo dzBB.

He then said the “direction” in the DBM changed under the helm of President Rodrigo Duterte. Under Duterte, Diokno served as head DBM from 2016 to 2019.

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“Nabigla ako nung pumasok termino ni President Duterte parang naging iba direksyon ng DBM secretary,” he said.

(I was surprised that process in the DBM changed when Duterte started his term.)

Andaya further claimed that it is not the President’s role to appoint posts in PS-DBM, adding that it is the DBM secretary’s job to do so.

“Baka akala ng tao ang nag-appoint diyan po si Presidente, hindi po. Ang head ng PS-DBM. Hindi yan umaabot sa pintuan Office ng Executive Secretary. Solo lang naga-appoint diyan — Secretary ng DBM,” said Andaya.

(People might think it was the President who appointed the head of PS-DBM. It doesn’t even reach the office of executive secretary. It is the Secretary of DBM doing it.)

“Walang kamuwang-muwang si Presidente diyan [The President has nothing to do with that),” he added.

Asked who oversees the appointment of PS-DBM chief during that time, Andaya said: “Si Secretary po ng DBM, Si Diokno, noong panahon niya [It was Diokno, the DBM secretary.]”

In his recent Talk to the People, Duterte defended Lao as well as Chinese businessman Michael Yang, who are linked in the procurement of expensive COVID-19 equipment.

Yang reportedly has ties with officials of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation, the company being linked to the overpricing controversy. Lao headed PS-DBM when it awarded the procurement contract to Pharmally firm.

Diokno denies his involvement in Lao’s appointment

While he agrees that the executive director of PS-DBM is appointed by the DBM chief, Diokno said he was not involved in the appointment of Lao as PS-DBM.

“Under the law, the DBM Secretary appoints the Executive Director of the PS-DBM — not the President of the Philippines,” Diokno told GMA News Online, reacting to Andaya’s recent allegations.

“On record, Undersecretary Lao was appointed PS-DBM head, on a concurrent status, long after I have transferred to the BSP. In brief, I have absolutely nothing to do with his appointment as PS-DBM head,” he added.

Lao was appointed to PS-DBM in 2019.

In 2019, Diokno and Andaya, who was then-House Majority Leader, clashed over the supposed irregularities in the proposed national budget. —KBK, GMA News

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