House panel cites ex-Duterte adviser Michael Yang in contempt for skipping probe

The House dangerous drugs panel has cited Michael Yang, who served as economic adviser of former President Rodrigo Duterte, in contempt over his repeated absence during the ongoing House probe on the multi-billion peso drug bust in Mexico, Pampanga in 2023.

This developed after the committee approved the motion to cite Yang in contempt made by Abang Lingkod party-list lawmaker Stephen Paduano.

Yang is under congressional probe over his alleged link to an incorporator of Empire 999 Realty Corp., the company which owns the warehouse in Mexico, Pampanga where over P3 billion worth of shabu was seized.

“Since he is not present, pursuant to our rules on Section 11, if I may read, the Committee may punish any person for contempt by a vote of two-thirds of the members present,” House committee on dangerous drugs panel chairperson and Surigao del Norte lawmaker Ace Barbers said.

“Citing the violation committed by Mr. Michael Yang under Section 11, Paragraph A, for refusing without legal excuse to obey summons and invitations, there is a motion to cite Mr. Michael Yang in contempt. The motion is duly seconded, and hearing no objection, the Committee is now citing Mr. Michael Yang in contempt,” Barbers added.

With this, the House dangerous drugs panel chaired by Surigao del Norte lawmaker Robert Ace Barbers ordered Yang’s 30-day detention at the Bicutan Jail in Taguig City.

Based on government records, Barbers said, Yang left Manila for Dubai last May 12.

To enforce the arrest warrant, Barbers ordered the committee’s secretary to coordinate with the Philippine National Police (PNP), the House Sergeant-at-Arms, the National Bureau of Investigation, and other law enforcement agencies.

“The committee’s secretary is therefore tasked to coordinate with the PNP, the Sergeant-at-Arms, the NBI, and all other law enforcement units to effect the arrest so that they can be brought here to face this investigation in aid of legislation,” Barbers said.

Yang was invited to the House probe after Lincoln Ong, a Pharmally official and an alleged associate of Yang, was found to be an incorporator of a company with links to Empire 999 and other firms.

Barbers said Yang’s testimony is deemed crucial in unraveling the complex web of illegal drug smuggling activities linked to Empire 999.

During the committee hearing last May, legislators said the raided warehouse was majority owned by Chinese and not Filipinos.

Barbers had said that the Chinese own “55% of Empire 999 Realty Corporation, which is in direct violation of the constitutional limitation of the 60-40 equity.”

The panel noted that the birth certificate of a certain Willie Ong, one of the alleged warehouse owners, was registered late, similar to the case of embattled Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo.

Ong did not appear before the legislative inquiry as he was believed to have fled the country in October 2023 by using a Chinese passport and a fake identity.

Yang, meanwhile, was then represented instead by his counsel Raymond Fortun during the hearing. At the time, Fortun said that his client was currently overseas in Dubai. — VDV, GMA Integrated News

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