House orders arrest of ex-Duterte adviser

House orders arrest of ex-Duterte adviser Michael Yang

/ 05:48 AM July 11, 2024

House orders arrest of ex-Duterte adviser


MANILA, Philippines — The House committee on dangerous drugs on Wednesday cited in contempt Michael Yang, former President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic adviser, and ordered his arrest for ignoring its summons in connection with a P3.6-billion drug bust in Pampanga last year.

During a hearing, dismissed Police Col. Eduardo Acierto also claimed that Duterte, and Senators Christopher Go and Ronald dela Rosa knew of Yang’s links to the narcotics trade, but ignored a report he submitted in 2017.


For contempt of the House, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, the committee chair, ordered Yang’s 30-day detention at the Bicutan Jail in Taguig City.


READ: Barbers: No sinophobia, we’re only against Chinese doing illegal things

Barbers also ordered the committee secretary to coordinate with the Philippine National Police, House sergeant-at-arms, National Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies to enforce the warrant as Yang is believed to have left Manila for Dubai on May 12.

READ: Foreigners use investor’s registration visa in perpetuating crimes – Barbers

At the same time, Laguna Rep. Dan Fernandez asked the Bureau of Immigration and Department of Justice to help locate Yang and make the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) aware of the situation.

The panel’s inquiry, which began in October 2023 initially set out to find out how 530 kilograms of methamphetamine or “shabu” entered the country last year before these were transported to a warehouse at Barangay San Jose Molino in Mexico, Pampanga.

Yang was summoned to appear in the inquiry after the panel discovered that Empire 999, the company that owned the warehouse where the drugs were found, was partly owned by his associate, Linconn Uy Ong.


Crucial testimony

Ong was also supposedly involved in the Duterte administration’s allegedly anomalous procurement of health supplies from Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp. during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Barbers insisted that Yang’s testimony was “crucial” in unraveling the complex web of illegal drug smuggling activities linked to Empire 999, which they earlier discovered to be majority-owned by Chinese nationals who presented fake Philippine documents to appear as Filipinos.

“What started as a drug bust has turned into a national security concern as these personalities and companies acquired real properties all over the country using fictitious documents,” Barbers said in a previous hearing.

“That (Michael Yang) is linked to these drug activities is no surprise, as in the past administration, he was also named by a top official of the PNP tasked to investigate illegal drug activities,” he added.

That top PNP official was Acierto, who testified virtually before the panel on Wednesday to reaffirm his 2017 report that Yang was involved in illegal drugs—and that Duterte, Dela Rosa, and Go were aware of this but turned a blind eye to it.

During the hearing, Acierto, who formerly worked with the PNP’s drug enforcement group but has since gone into hiding, also accused Duterte of ordering his execution following his revelations.

He claimed that he and a colleague, Police Capt. Lito Perote discovered these illegal activities and reported them, but Perote has since disappeared and is presumed dead.

Bold allegation

Among others, Acierto accused Duterte, Go and Dela Rosa of “protecting and [being] integral to the security of the illegal drugs network operating in the country”—an allegation also made by former vigilante turned whistleblower Arturo Lascañas who is now a lead witness in the International Criminal Court’s investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed under Duterte’s drug war.

“They allowed the entry of large volumes of illegal drugs through our ports and supported the syndicates by defending them, targeting those that go against them, and playing dumb to true justice,” he added.

“I can see under the Marcos administration that it’s possible to achieve justice as is the case with former Sen. Leila de Lima, and I am hoping to one day achieve the same and that the government would pursue accountability over the sins of Duterte, Go and Dela Rosa,” Acierto said.

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The Inquirer contacted Go and Dela Rosa for comment but they had yet to respond as of this writing.

TAGS: anti-drugs drive, illegal drugs, Michael Yang, Pampanga, Robert Ace Barbers

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