Gordon accuses Yang of ‘lying,’ alleged violation of tourist visa
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Richard Gordon on Thursday accused former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang of “lying” and having supposedly violated his tourist visa, accusations which were quickly denied by the businessman.
“Inabuso mo ang pag-welcome sayo ng bansa na ikaw ay tourist…Niloko mo ang immigration na ikaw ay turista pero kumikita ka,” Gordon said during the resumption of the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing.
(You abused country’s welcome to you as a tourist…You fooled the immigration that you are a tourist to earn.)
“I will write a letter to the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) and check all your tax records and all your activities. I will write to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) that you were violating your visa, that you’re not entitled to a permanent resident visa because it is a highway of lies that you’ve shown,” he added.
Before this, Gordon asked Yang when he arrived in the Philippines and what visa he held when he did.
Yang, through an interpreter, said that he arrived in the Philippines in 1999 and was on a tourist visa, which was later on changed into a permanent resident visa.
“When I came here, I came here with a tourist visa and then I stayed with my friends and relatives…I also brought some money with me from China,” Yand said.
“Then I would look around for what kind of business that I can possibly engage in…I would look around on what possible business that I can do,” he added.
When he arrived, Yang said he would help out his friends to meet with suppliers from China and let them transact on their own.
But Gordon said Yang had “lied” when he went to the country on a tourist visa despite wanting to find a way to earn income here.
“Sa makatuwid sinungaling yung ginawa mo. Tourist visa para magbiyahe ka, pero nagpunta ka lang rito para maghanap ng kabuhayan. Sinungaling ‘yon,” the senator said.
(In other words, you lied. You got a tourist visa so you can travel, but you just came here to look for business. That’s a lie.)
But Yang maintained he was not lying, adding he did not get any commission by helping out his friends with suppliers.
He only set up his own establishment in the early 2000s, Yang told the committee during a previous hearing, a transcript of which was presented by Gordon at Thursday’s hearing.
“I was not a big businessman when I came here,” the transcript read. “I started with RTW (ready-to-wear), some clothes, and then some goods that I sold. So, I was engaged in the trading business.”
Gordon, at this point, pointed out that Yang should have paid income taxes when he started his RTW business.
“I started to pay taxes in 2018 and 2019 when we started the company. Because before I did not receive a salary and I also did not receive dividends so I did not pay income tax,” Yang said.
This did not sit well with Gordon, who pointed out: “Nagbebenta ka, ahente ka, may kinikita ka…dapat nagbabayad ka ng income tax.”
(You are making sales, you’re an agent, you should have paid income tax.)
But Yang insisted he “personally did not receive any dividends or any salary so I did not pay any income tax.”
But Gordon still did not believe Yang and said he will check the latter’s tax records with the BIR and write to the BI to flag the businessman’s alleged visa violation.
“I’m sorry I have to do that, you sound like a good guy, a nice guy. But when you talk you’re lying,” the senator added.
To end, Yang maintained he did not lie. “I’m sorry Mr. Chairman but what I have said are all the truth.”
In a letter sent to the blue ribbon committee, Yang also explained that he “voluntarily” filed his Income Tax Returns (ITR) from 2018 to 2020.
“I was advised when I just arrived in the country that, under Philippines laws, an alien individual who is not receiving income from sources within the Philippines in his personal capacity is not required to file ITR,” the letter read.
“The business transactions I was later engaged in were through the corporations that I have investments in. Those corporations are regularly filing tax returns as required by law.”
“However, since there is no business activity registered in my personal capacity and I also do not receive any income in my personal capacity here in the country, I understand that I am not required to file ITR. This was the situation for many years,” it added.
Senators are investigating the government’s transactions with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., which was awarded over P8.6 billion worth of supply contracts for medical supplies in 2020 despite being only several months old and having just P625,000 in paid-up capital.
Yang’s name first turned up 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 had “borrowed money” from Yang to help them fulfill some of the government’s orders last year.
But Yang had insisted that it was his friends, not him, who funded Pharmally in some of its contracts with the government.