Despite being called arrogant, Yang says he ‘loves’ PH and ‘loves doing business here’
MANILA, Philippines—Senator Richard Gordon and former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang on Thursday engaged in a heated verbal exchange as the latter was being questioned about his business ventures in the Philippines.
During the Senate blue ribbon committee’s inquiry into the government’s pandemic-related purchases last year, Gordon pressed Yang for details about his trading activities in the country.
In particular, Gordon asked Yang about DCLA Plaza, a mall located in Davao.
When Yang’s answers failed to satisfy the senator, Gordon told the Chinese businessman that people were finding his replies “arrogant.”
“Alam mo, Mr. Yang, ako ang dating ko sayo wala akong iniisip na masama pero tinitignan ko lang kung anong sagot mo. Pero marami ring nanunuod sayo, at maraming nagtetext sakin dito, ang sinasabi arogante ka, nangaasar ka, yan ang tingin sayo ng tao,” Gordon said.
(You know, Mr. Yang, I’m not looking at you negatively. I’m just observing how you answer. But I am receiving texts that you are arrogant. You are teasing us. That’s how people see you.)
“Ikaw ay isang banyaga sa bansa namin…Walang natutuwa sayo, kaya magpakatino ka,” he added.
(You are a foreigner in our country…No one is happy with you right now, so shape up.)
In response, Yang, through an interpreter hired by the Senate, told senators he “is not arrogant.”
“I would just like to say, I came here to the Philippines and I really love this country and I am not arrogant and I really don’t know what other people think of me but I’m just simply doing business here,” Yang said.
The blue-ribbon committee has been investigating the government’s purchases of medical goods, including allegedly overpriced face masks, shields, and other supplies, at the height of the pandemic last year.
During the course of the inquiry, senators have repeatedly questioned the Department of Health’s transfer of P42 billion to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management for the procurement of pandemic response supplies in 2020.
A portion of this amount went to over P8.6 billion worth of contracts awarded to Pharmally. Senators doubted the financial capacity of the firm since it was only established in 2019 with a small capital of P625,000 when it secured the supply deals.
Yang’s name was first raised in the Senate investigation after a 2017 video showed him introducing Pharmally officials to President Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City.
It was then disclosed that Pharmally borrowed money from Yang to help the firm fulfill some of the government’s orders last year.
But Yang maintained that he did not finance the Pharmally, insisting that his role was limited to introducing Ong to his friends among suppliers in China who could provide financial assistance.