De Lima calls for Senate probe of former economic adviser to Duterte

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By William Casis i FilAm Star Correspondent

Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima wants the Senate to investigate if former Special Economic Adviser Michael Yang may have abused his position for personal benefit and if it may impact national security and welfare.

She stressed that a comprehensive probe into Yang’s alleged link to the illegal drug trade is imperative. She said accountability must be sought due to his official, high-level capacity as a former Presidential Economic Adviser.

De Lima filed a Senate resolution No. 1033  calling for a comprehensive investigation into the alleged involvement of former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang in the illegal drug trade in the country.

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 are 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 Duterte’s economic adviser from January to December 2018. 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 PHP 4.3-billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project with China.

Recently, Yang was named by dismissed police officer Eduardo Acierto as having links to the illegal drug trade, along with his business partners Allan Lim (a.k.a. Huen Li Gen or Ayong) and Johnson Chua (a.k.a. Chung Nga Way or Greg Sia) who is based in Macau.

However, 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 nationals such as Yang, in shaping and implementing foreign and economic policies of the government.

“There is a need to inquire and demand concrete explanation into the citizenship of presidential appointees, such as 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 Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano and Transportation Sec. Arthur Tugade in his office as presidential economic adviser.

Last October 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.

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