Ex-Duterte adviser Michael Yang seeks SC help vs Senate arrest orders
MANILA, Philippines —Former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang on Thursday sought the Supreme Court’s intervention to stop the Senate from compelling him to attend the inquiry into the multi-billion peso contract won by Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp. for pandemic supplies.
At the same time, Yang asked the high court to nullify the arrest order dated Sept. 7 and 10 issued by the Senate against him as well as the Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order (ILBO).
The petition stated that the Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations has gravely abused its discretion for several reasons.
He said the arrest order as well as the lookout bulletin order has no legal basis.
He said the first summons was sent to his office in the morning of Aug. 27, around four hours before the start of the hearing. At that time, Yang said he was in Zambales where there was intermittent phone service which was why he was informed of the subpoena only the next day.
“Under basic principles of fair play, a notice to appear barely four hours before the scheduled hearing cannot be deemed to be sufficient notice,” he said in his petition.
Regarding the second subpoena, he said it was served at his office again. However, they are in a work-from-home arrangement with him staying in Davao. Then, the subpoena was delivered to his house in Makati. The Senate sheriff tried to serve it to his driver which is a violation of the Rules of Court.
Under the Rules of Court, the summons must be served personally. If the subject of the summons refused to accept it, the Sheriff or the messenger can leave a copy within the view of, in this case, Yang.
The petition pointed out that the Rules of Court stated other means to serve the summons such as leaving a copy to the officers of the homeowners association in charge of the community or the chief security of the building where the address is located or through electronic mail.
In this case, Yang said there were no other attempts done to serve the summons in compliance with the Rules of Court.
As to the ILBO, Yang said it violates his constitutional right to travel more so since there is no criminal complaint filed against him before the DOJ or the Office of the Ombudsman.
“Nowhere in the Senate Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation grants unto the Senate or any of its Committees the power to request for a Hold Departure Order, Watch List, or Lookout Bulletin. As it had no legal basis nor even authority to cause the issuance of the letter-request to Commissioner Jaime Morente, the same may be declared as null and void for being issued with grave abuse of discretion, amounting to a lack or excess of jurisdiction,” he said.
Yang also described the Senate inquiry as a form of “McCarthyism” in an apparent reference to the controversial practices of then US Senator Joseph McCarthy in ferreting out supposed communist sympathizers from the late 1940s through the 1950s.
“It is respectfully submitted that the respondent Senate Committee, in its COVID-19 Senate investigation, is engaged in deplorable and reprehensible conduct that is loosely known as ‘McCarthyism, a term that has become a byname for defamation of character or reputation by means of widely publicized indiscriminate allegations, especially on the basis of unsubstantiated charges. Certiorari lies to curtail this heretofore unhampered and unchallenged abuse of legislative power,” Yang said.
Yang said he was asked to produce documents on his properties that are not related to the Senate investigation. He added that the senators even rehashed old rumors that he was involved in the illegal drug trade.
“Acting with grave abuse of discretion amounting to a lack or excess of jurisdiction, the respondent Senate Committee had violated the petitioner’s rights to privacy by compelling him to reveal his properties, corporate papers, and business transactions despite the same not having any connection to the matter in inquiry, including asking about his supposed links to illegal drugs despite the sheer absence of evidence of his engagement therein,” Yang said.
He said not only him but the other the Senate also treated resource persons as an accused in regular court proceedings by “unrightfully judging their guests as “lying” at the slightest hint of inconsistency while completely ignoring any explanations made.
Yang said he acknowledges the power of the Senate to conduct an investigation and to cite a witness in contempt for testifying falsely.
“However, when such power is exercised with such grave abuse and, despite being confronted with the truth, refuses to believe the same, certiorari lies to reverse the effects of such abusive exercise,” he added.