Senate orders arrest of Michael Yang, Pharmally exec for evading questions

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 10 2021 07:21 PM | Updated as of Sep 10 2021 08:05 PM

MANILA – Senators cited in contempt and moved for the arrest of former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang and Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Executive Linconn Ong for evading questions on the government’s purchase of allegedly overpriced personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking through an interpreter, Yang claimed during a Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the COVID-19 spending of the health department that he did not know anything about Pharmally Pharmaceuticals.

Senator Panfilo Lacson reminded him that he is under oath and may be held in contempt for lying.

Yang's interpreter replied, "Initially he doesn’t know the existence or know anything about Pharmally Pharmaceutical, later on they did approach him for some assistance. In terms of the registration or setup of Pharmally Pharma, Mr. Yang has nothing to do with it. Mr Chair, in terms of operation, Mr. Yang has not been involved, or he has no idea."

Yang claimed he did not have anything to do with Pharmally bagging contracts from the Procurement Service division of the Department of Budget and Management.

“Mr, Yang would like to clarify that when Pharmally gets their contracts… he has nothing to do with those contracts or awards. Then eventually, Mr. Linconn approached Mr. Yang. Mr. Yang introduced to Mr. Linconn who could help them with their supplies,” his interpreter said. 

Yang said told senators that he knew Ong through a relative. He also said that he introduced Ong to suppliers, but left them to discuss matters on their own after that.

“Mr. Yang said that he only introduced and let them discuss things on their own. So Mr. Chair, Mr Yang said, he only introduced them and they discussed on their own. Mr. Yang said that he only introduced as to where or who they close their dealings he does not know or who actually purchased those stock.” 

Ong confirmed this, but added that Yang also “guarantees” for them. 

“In addition to that he also guarantees for us. Nag-ga-guarantee sila sa amin kasi totoo po yung analysis ni Mr. Chairman na medyo challenging talaga pagdating sa financial.”

Senator Panfilo Lacson then asked Ong, “Anong klaseng guarantee? Gina-guarantee niya na makakabayad ka?”

Ong answered in the affirmative.

Asked how they paid their suppliers, Ong said, “Yung mga ibang supplier namin nagta-transfer talaga kami. Tapos may mga supplier na hindi naming kayang bayaran, humingi na po kami ng tulong kay Mr. Michael Yang, which he guaranteed with the supplier, na 'pag nakatanggap po kami ng bayad with the government, and then that’s the time we pay na.”

"May mga portion na diretso nagbayad sa suppliers dahil may pondo naman kami sa amin. May savings ang mga incorporators. Mr. Michael Yang guarantees for us. I think may namiss si Mr. Interpreter kanina na he also guarantees for us," he said.

It was then that Lacson pointed out that Yang was lying when he said he merely introduced the Pharmally executive to suppliers.

Ong, however, earned the ire of lawmakers when he said he has to check with his accountants on the amount they paid their suppliers. 

“Medyo trade secret na po yun eh, parang di po kami komportable ibulgar na lang po sa publiko.”

Senator Franklin Drilon reminded him that the transaction involves public funds and can therefore be checked by the Commission on Audit.

“Definitely makikipag-cooperate kami sa mga ahensya pagdating sa mga ganitong investigation,” Ong said in reply to Drilon.

Prodded by Senator Dick Gordon, however, to state the amount, he said, “I myself alone cannot answer that question kasi kumpanya po kami. Allow us to have a meeting on it and pag-usapan po namin, tapos we seek guidance with our accountants and lawyers, definitely pagka kinakailangan naming makipag-cooperate sa COA, gagawin po namin yan.”

Lacson then moved for an arrest warrant against Yang and Ong. Senator Risa Hontiveros seconded it.

The Senate has previously issued moved for an arrest warrant against Yang for failing to appear before the upper chamber.

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