MANILA (UPDATE) - The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Tuesday moved to issue a warrant of arrest against former Presidential Economic Adviser Michael Yang, after the Chinese businessman snubbed two subpoenas from the chamber.
The panel will produce the warrant and have Senate President Vicente Sotto III sign it before serving it to Yang, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chair Richard Gordon said during a congressional hearing.
"If a subpoena is served and they refuse [to receive it], and we have reason to believe that he stays in the area, we can serve a warrant of arrest," he said.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee agreed to issue an arrest warrant against Yang after his alleged driver refused to receive the subpoena the Senate served at his leased residence in Narra Avenue, Forbes Park.
"The driver refused to receive the subpoena and said there is no Michael Yang residing in said address," said Rodolfo Quimbo, Director General of the Blue Ribbon Oversight Office Management.
"An insurance company courier arrived for a certain Nancy Yang. The driver said there was no Nancy Yang in the house," he said.
Despite the driver's denial, several senators noted that a copy of the lease agreement for the Forbes property showed that Michael Yang has been renting the house for P6 million annually from April 2017 to April 2022.
"The lease agreement expressly provides that the residence will be used by Mr. Michael Yang Hong Ming," Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said.
"When one or 2 subpoenas have been ignored or disregarded, the next step is to issue a warrant of arrest," Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said.
The panel will also issue arrest warrants against the following Pharmally officials who failed to attend today's hearing despite the issuance of subpoenas:
- Mohit Dargani
- Twinkle Dargani
- Justine Garado
- Linconn Ong
- Krizle Grace Mago
Senate President Vicente Sotto III signed the arrest orders around 4 p.m.
Gordon on Wednesday said he could also issue an arrest warrant against the driver that denied Yang resided in the said address.
The Senate can request a hold departure order against Yang in court, he added.
"And if the court sees it fit, they will. If they don't wala (nothing will happen," he told ANC's Headstart.
Yang's legal counsel sent a letter to the Senate, saying his client failed to attend the first 4 hearings as he failed to receive a subpoena from the chamber.
"Although he has not received a copy of the subpoena, he has expressed his full and complete cooperation to provide information that your Honorable Committee may need from him in aid of legislation," Yang's lawyer Raymond Fortun said in his letter to Gordon's office.
Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte defended Yang against allegations that he has been brokering deals between the government and businessmen who were facing fraud cases abroad.
"Michael Yang has been in business here in the Philippines for 20 years. Nag-umpisa 'yan sa Davao...Akala ko ba we are inviting investors?" the President said.
(He started in Davao...I thought we were inviting investors?)
"Tanungin ninyo ang mga taga-Davao ng tindahan niya pati sino 'yan."
(Ask Davao residents about his store and who he is.)
Duterte had also slammed the Blue Ribbon's investigations, saying the public should not listen to these hearings.