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HomeHot TopicsHouse Committee to Summon Former Duterte Adviser Over P3 Billion Drug Seizure

House Committee to Summon Former Duterte Adviser Over P3 Billion Drug Seizure

A House of Representatives panel is scheduled to question a former economic advisor to President Rodrigo Duterte over the P3 billion worth of illegal drugs that will be seized in Mexico, Pampanga, in 2023.

Rep. Robert Ace Barbers announced yesterday that the House committee on hazardous drugs has requested Michael Yang, who is well-known to be close to Duterte, to appear before them. The committee has learned throughout their hearings that Yang is suspected of being involved in drug trafficking.

Yang’s name has also come up in the Pharmally Pharmaceutical controversy, where he was accused of helping the government and the aforementioned corporation complete a P8-billion agreement for the purchase of COVID-19 medical supplies.

Lincoln Ong, Yang’s interpreter and a further participant in the Pharmally controversy, was found to have ties to a corporation that has been linked to several organizations, including Empire 999, by the Barbers panel on May 8.

The owner of the Pampanga facility where the illegal substances were found and seized is Empire 999.

Empire 999 is owned by Chinese nationals, who are also allegedly connected to other shell firms and others who were previously connected to dubious actions during the previous government.

Numerous Chinese nationals who submitted fake Philippine passports to pass for Filipinos were among the incorporators of these organizations, according to the House probe.

After Rep. Joseph Paduano of the public accounts panel provided information connecting Yang to Ong, Rep. Dan Fernandez, the chair of the public order panel, suggested bringing Yang to the upcoming hearing.

The case that started out as a narcotics bust in Pampanga, Mexico has grown into a “national security issue as these individuals and companies have acquired real estate nationwide using deceptive documents,” Barbers stressed.

“This issue has transcended from mere drug smuggling to a national security concern. We must establish the connections between these companies and Michael Yang, the backer of Pharmally. It’s far more complex than it appears,” he stated.

Barbers mentioned that Pharmally had gotten big contracts for medical supplies during the epidemic from the DBM-Procurement Service, which was formerly run by Lloyd Christopher Lao.

Barbers continued, “Ong revealed that Yang paid for the supplies that were purchased overseas because Pharmally lacked the necessary funds.”

The ombudsman has ordered that graft charges be brought against Lao and Francisco Duque III, the former health secretary, for allegedly mismanaging more than P41 billion meant for the 2020 acquisition of COVID-19 supplies.

“The interconnection between these individuals and their interests is intricate, resembling a maze designed to evade detection and accountability if their scheme is exposed,” Barbers said.

He added that incorporators are already avoiding investigation and starting to sell off their holdings, meaning that the operations of other related businesses have not yet been completely revealed. According to Barbers, “There’s more beneath the surface. We aim to delve deeper into this matter to ascertain if the drug seizure is just the beginning.”

Using prior claims made by a high-ranking Philippine National Police official from the previous administration designating Yang as a major player in the drug trade, Barbers stated that Yang’s supposed ties to illegal drug activities are not shocking.

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