Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a Senate resolution calling for a comprehensive investigation into the alleged involvement of former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang in the illegal drug trade in the country.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 1033, De Lima said the Senate should look into whether Yang’s special position as economic adviser to Mr. Duterte may have been abused for personal benefit and may have impact to national security and welfare.
“A comprehensive probe into Mr. Yang’s alleged link to the illegal drug trade is imperative, as accountability must be sought given his official, high-level capacity as a former Presidential Economic Adviser,” she said.
De Lima’s Resolution hinted at possible deportation of Yang as an undesirable alien, if his involvement in the illegal drug trade or other illicit activities is proven. This is without prejudice of course to the filing of appropriate criminal charges against him.
Based on news reports, Yang, whose Chinese name is Yang Hong Ming, has served as Mr. Duterte’s economic adviser from January to December 2018 as he has been giving out business cards bearing the official seal of the Office of the President.
Although a Davao-based Chinese businessman who owns Full Win Company, Yang has purportedly been instrumental in the onerous, one-sided loan agreement for the construction of the PhP4.3-billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project with China.
Recently, Yang was named by dismissed police officer Eduardo Acierto to the illegal drug trade, along with his business partners Allan Lim (aka Huen Li Gen or Ayong) and Johnson Chua (aka Chung Nga Way or Greg Sia) who is based in Macau.
However, Mr. Duterte was quick to defend Yang from any drug involvement, saying that the latter was a legitimate businessman who helped create local jobs. Duterte said he knows Yang as early as 1999 when the latter was starting up his business in Davao.
De Lima, a former justice secretary, noted in her resolution how presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo and Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Col. Bernard Banac took turns in swiftly clearing Yang from any involvement in illegal drug trade.
“The government’s bloody drug war has further exacerbated the Philippines’ drug problem as admitted by no less than President Duterte himself, given the possible penetration and access to high-ranking officials by elements who may have businesses and links to the drug trade in the country,” she pointed out.
The Senator explained that it is important for the Senate to find out the exact nature and scope of work and influence of foreign consultants, including Chinese national such as Yang, in shaping and implementing foreign and economic policies of the government.
“There is a need to inquire into and demand concrete explanation into the citizenship of presidential appointees, such as Mr. Michael Yang, with the nature and scope of his work and influence over foreign and economic policy, as public office held by a foreign national is inimical to national security, public interest and welfare,” she said.
Last October, De Lima has also filed Senate Resolution No. 922 calling for a Senate inquiry into Yang’s appointment to determine the extent of his “official engagement” under the present Duterte administration.
It may be recalled that Yang has also been reported to have hosted Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade in his office as presidential economic adviser. Last Oct. 4, Duterte revealed Yang’s close relations with Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua during his speech before the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association. He also disclosed that Yang was part of the Philippine delegation to China.