MANILA - Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday said the Senate will lift an arrest warrant against Chinese businessman Michael Yang if he appears in the chamber's hearing on the country's pandemic funds spent last year.
"We may lift it if he appears," Sotto said.
Yang, President Rodrigo Duterte's former economic adviser, earlier snubbed the Senate's subpoenas, prompting the upper chamber to issue an arrest warrant.
The statement from Sotto came after Yang's lawyer confirmed his attendance in the hearing scheduled on Friday, and the succeeding ones.
Lawyer Raymund Fortun requested an interpreter for Yang, who he said has "difficulty" in expressing himself in Filipino or English.
The businessman can only speak in his native tongue Mandarin, Fortun said.
"In order to aid in communication, may we ask for an interpreter be made available in all hearings who can translate the senators' questions to Mandarin and later translate Mr. Yang's responses thereto to English," the letter read.
"We also pray that Mr. Yang's own interpreter be allowed by his side and be a 'silent' participant in the hearings in the event that the translation would require amendment or correction," Fortun added.
Sotto said they would grant Yang's request.
"Pwede kami provide (we can provide)" he said.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee last week ordered to arrest him 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.
Senators questioned why Pharmally - a company incorporated in 2019 with a P599,000 capital - was awarded billions of pesos worth of government contracts when it had no track record of delivering quality and reasonably-priced materials.
Yang allegedly had links to Pharmally.
The firm is supposedly linked to Yang’s network through one of its owners, Singaporean Huang Tzu Yen, who sits as a director in another company, along with 2 other associates of Yang.
Duterte has slammed the Blue Ribbon's investigations, saying the public should not listen to the hearings.
-- with reports from Katrina Domingo and Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News