MANILA - Malacañang on Tuesday said controversial Chinese businessman Michael Yang is no longer President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic adviser.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said in a text message that Yang’s “one peso per annum contract” expired last Dec. 31, 2018.
Questions about Yang’s status in government were raised after former police official Eduardo Acierto linked him to the illegal drug trade.
Acierto said he sent an intelligence report as early as 2017 to his superiors detailing Yang’s supposed drug ties, but he claimed this was ignored. This led him to conclude that Duterte tolerated Yang’s alleged illicit activities.
Acierto's report also supposedly reached Malacañang but Medialdea said: "We are still looking for that report and as of now we can't find any submitted to our office."
In October last year, Duterte cleared Yang of any involvement in the illegal drug trade and said Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua vouched for the businessman's integrity.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said if the allegations against Yang were indeed true, “this President will not tolerate anyone regardless of the stature or relationship with him.”
But for now, “unless you can show proof that he (Yang) is involved, the trust and confidence [of the President] remains,” Panelo added.
Duterte denied in October last year that he appointed Yang as economic adviser. A month later, Panelo admitted that Yang was indeed one of the President’s economic “consultants.”
Yang was seen in several photos during visits to the Palace, as well as in Duterte's visit to China in 2016.