Opposition Senator Leila De Lima on Monday said the application of Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao as Overall Deputy Ombudsman reeks of possible collusion to cover up corruption under the Duterte administration.
In a statement, De Lima said a former aide of Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, who was then a special assistant to President Rodrigo Duterte, was applying for the second top post in the anti-graft body.
"Ngayon pa lang, umaalingasaw na ang baho ng niluluto nilang sabwatan. Imagine if he gets the position in this anti-corruption agency," she said, without dropping a specific name.
"May Ombudsman na ayaw mag-lifestyle check sa mga opisyal ng gobyerno. Habang 'yung pangalawang pinakamataaas sa puwesto, tauhan ng tapat na alagad ni Duterte," she added.d
GMA News Online asked De Lima's office to name whom she was referring to and got informed that it was Lao.
De Lima, detained in Camp Crame since 2017 due to alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade, stressed that the post which Lao is applying for has been vacant since June 2019 after the Ombudsman implemented the Palace dismissal of former ODO Melchor Arthur Carandang.
It was Carandang who disclosed the alleged bank transactions of President Rodrigo Duterte and his family.
"Sinisimulan na bang ilatag ang entablado para i-abswelto si Duterte at mga corrupt nitong kaalyado? Ang obvious masyado!" De Lima said.
On the other hand, Lao said he has already withdrawn his application for the post on Monday morning to spare the Ombudsman from senseless speculations.
"Ang personal kong ambisyon mapagkailanman ay hindi po mangingibabaw sa interest ng bayan at ng pamahalaan. Para manatili ang integridad ng JBC (Judicial and Bar Council) at para mapalayo ang Ombudsman sa mga walang kwentang haka-haka, minabuti ko pong i-withdraw ang aking application," Lao said in a statement sent through text to GMA News Online.
"Mataas po ang tingin ko sa mga nakaupo sa JBC. Panatag ang loob ko na pipili sila ng mga taong matino na ilalagay sa posisyon," he added.
Currently heading the DBM-Procurement Service, Lao was supposed to appear in a public interview of the candidates for Overall Deputy Ombudsman on October 28. There are six other aspirants for the position.
"Nakakabahala po ang pahayag ni Senator De Lima tungkol sa pag-file ko ng application bilang Overall Deputy Ombudsman. Hindi po lahat ng tao corrupt. Ang alam ko ang mga kurakot na kawani ng gobyerno, appointed man o elected, ay nakukulong at nabubulok sa bilangguan," Lao said. "Naniniwala pa rin po ako na karamihan ng nasa gobyerno ay matitino."
Meanwhile, Go refuted De Lima's claim that Lao was under his wing during his tenure as special assistant to the President.
"Malay ko diyan at wala naman akong kinalaman sa application niya. Si Usec. Lloyd Lao ay naging parte ng PMS (Presidential Management Staff) at HLURB (Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board) bago naging undersecretary ng DBM. He did not serve directly under my office," Go said in a separate statement.
"Malaya naman ang bawat tao na mag-apply sa mga posisyon na available sa gobyerno kung gusto nilang magsilbi sa kapwa nilang mga Filipino. Tulad ng kahit anong job application, mayroong prosesong sinusunod diyan ayon sa batas," he added.
Go said the public should trust the screening and selection process of the JBC as he vowed that the administration's campaign against corruption will continue.—AOL, GMA News