Deport Michael Yang? Palace says 'nothing criminal' proven yet vs ex-Duterte adviser

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 20 2021 02:39 PM | Updated as of Oct 20 2021 02:40 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte during an Aug. 30, 2021 national address from Davao City shows a document with a photo of his former economic adviser Michael Yang and the owners of Pharmally taken in March 2017. Richard Madelo, Presidential Photo/File
President Rodrigo Duterte during an Aug. 30, 2021 national address from Davao City shows a document with a photo of his former economic adviser Michael Yang and the owners of Pharmally taken in March 2017. Richard Madelo, Presidential Photo/File

MANILA — "Nothing criminal" has been proven so far against President Rodrigo Duterte's former economic adviser Michael Yang, Malacañang said on Wednesday, after a lawmaker indicated his possible deportation once charged over his alleged links to pandemic deals a Senate panel has been investigating.

The Senate in recent weeks has looked into Yang's ties with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., which allegedly sold government overpriced and substandard COVID-19 supplies.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque said the Commission on Audit has clarified the supplies were not overpriced. He also noted that Congress earlier authorized Duterte to skip the bidding process in procuring these items. 

"In the case of Michael Yang, nothing has been proven, nothing criminal has been proven by the Senate and that's because the Senate simply does not have the authority to declare anything as having been criminal," Roque, a lawyer, told the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum. 

"And because there’s nothing—no illegal things have been proven as of yet, I don’t see how Michael Yang could benefit from his closeness when he has not breached any laws so far," he continued. 

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has recommended the filing of criminal charges against some Pharmally and government officials, and Yang. 

Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the panel, said proposed charges against the Chinese businessman would result in his deportation and classification as an "undesirable alien". 
 
"The Senate per se does not not have the power to deport," said Roque. "It is in fact an Executive function, and the Senate cannot order the Executive to perform a purely executive act." 

"That will be violative of the separation of powers and the concept of equality of powers," he added. 

The initial findings against Pharmally need to be carried in a committee report and approved during the plenary session that will resume on Nov. 8.

The issues that senators earlier raised include Pharmally's delivery of 500,000 face masks ahead of a purchase order, failure to show deeds for a P33-million donation to government, and the supposedly disappearance of documents on its deals, among others.

Gordon had said public funds wasted on anomalous transactions could have been used for the benefits of health workers who are battling COVID-19 in the frontlines.

Duterte had denied the allegation of overpricing, and said the deals with Pharmally were above board. 

RELATED VIDEO: 

Watch more on iWantTFC