De Lima renews call for Senate probe on appointment of Michael Yang as presidential adviser

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has pressed anew for a Senate investigation into the appointment of foreign nationals to public office after records from Malacañang verified the assignment of Chinese national Michael Yang as Mr. Duterte’s economic adviser.

De Lima, a former justice secretary, said she hopes the legislative chamber will give priority to Senate Resolution No. 922 because the appointment of foreign nationals at the Office of the President (OP) is a cause for serious concern.

“As a matter of rule, we are not allowed to get a foreign consultant in the government because it can give them direct access to sensitive and confidential state information – passively or actively – which in turn threatens and undermines our national security,” she said.

“Given the existence of the two contracts of the OP with Michael Yang which confirms that the latter, a Chinese national, is engaged as economic adviser to the President with seemingly unlimited access to sensitive information, then all the more that the legislative chamber should investigate this matter,” she added.

Yang, also known as Yang Hong Ming, has been publicly issuing business cards identifying himself as “presidential economic adviser” using the official seal of the OP of the Philippines and the official logo of his firm, Full Win Company.

While Duterte denied that Yang was his economic adviser, two contracts obtained by online media outfit Rappler from the Malacañang Records Office (MRO) revealed otherwise.

The first contract showed that Yang or Yang Hong Ming was designated as economic adviser to the President from January 1, 2018 to June 30, 2018 while the second contract confirmed that he is contracted in the same position from July 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018.

In filing SR No. 922 last month, which urged the appropriate Senate committee to look into Yang’s appointment as presidential economic adviser, De Lima underscored the need to determine, among others, Yang’s relationship with Duterte and the extent of the Chinese national’s access to sensitive state information.

De Lima took issue on the President’s obvious lack of transparency over his dealings with Chinese nationals, which often failed to look into the long-term repercussions on the country’s economy and national security.

“Duterte’s lack of transparency and obvious inclination to favor Chinese nationals have led to concerns on whether he can truthfully and loyally serve the Filipino people without favoring his personal interests,” she said.

“Bistado na nga ang Pangulo sa kasinungalingan niya, sinegundahan pa ito ni Mr. Panelo na puro palusot lang ang alam gawin tungkol sa isyu ng pagtalaga kay Yang bilang presidential economic adviser. It’s high time for Duterte and his minions to stop taking the Filipino people for a ride.” she added.

Note that Panelo recently denied that Yang was a part of the presidential assistant/adviser system, reasoning that the latter “is a one-peso-a-year consultant-adviser under a standard contract of service with a fixed term who simply performs advisory functions.”

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