'Lending money not a crime': Lawmaker defends Michael Yang

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 02 2022 09:57 AM

Michael Yang

A party-list lawmaker on Wednesday came to the defense of former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang after the Senate Blue Ribbon draft report recommended the filing of charges against Yang and several others for their role in the government's billion-peso supply contracts with Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp.

House Committee on Good Government chairperson and Diwa Rep. Mike Aglipay said the Senate Blue Ribbon draft report has no evidence to support charges against some of the individuals. 

"The Senate Blue Ribbon report walang evidence to support the other charges. Example is Michael Yang. He is not liable in this Pharmally case. He is just a financier and lending money is not a crime," he said in a statement. 

Pharmally bagged at least P11 billion worth of contracts with the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service despite having a paid-up capital of only P625,000 in 2019. 

Pharmally chairperson Huang Tzu Yen earlier told senators the company had to borrow money from Yang to finance the procurement of face masks and RT-PCR test kits. 

"We did receive Mr. Michael Yang's help. We borrowed money from him. Since we were not able to finance these things, he offered to lend us the money so we will be able to pay for it. We will pay him back once we receive the money from the government," he said.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has recommended the filing of charges against Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and other officials of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. for allegedly plundering public funds meant to address the pandemic, a preliminary report showed on Tuesday. 

The Senate committee recommended charges against other key individuals tagged in the probe — Yang, former budget undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, and Overall Deputy Ombudsman Warren Liong, a former director at the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service (PS-DBM). 

A separate investigation by House lawmakers recommended the filing of syndicated estafa charges against several Pharmally officials but spared both Yang and Lao, saying there was not enough evidence to go after them.

In his statement, Aglipay rejected the Senate's findings that President Duterte "betrayed public trust" for defending personalities "close to him" who have links in the Pharmally deal. 

"In conclusion, the Senate Blue Ribbon committee decision despite its differences with the lower house, we stand by our own findings knowing that we have based our recommendation on testimonial and documentary evidences only," Aglipay said. 

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