MANILA - Davao-based businessman Michael Yang on Thursday denied he is an agent sent to the country by China's Communist Party, and said he loves the Philippines.
Before Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the investigating panel, asked this, he showed several photos of Yang and President Rodrigo Duterte together in some events, which include being in his office in Makati as an economic adviser to the President.
Yang previously held the post under Duterte.
"Are you a Chinese Communist agent in the Philippines?" Gordon asked Yang.
"No, I’m not, I’m not," Yang said through his interpreter.
Pharmally executive Linconn Ong, who served as his interpreter, was also present in the photos, as well as a certain Jose Kho, a friend he introduced to Duterte.
Photos from Sen. Richard Gordon
Photos from Sen. Richard Gordon
Yang said his economic adviser's office in Makati City was where foreign investors were usually received.
“We use this to welcome or talk to some investors who want to invest," he added.
Photos collected by Gordon's showed that Yang welcomed Liang Jiangyong, the secretary-general of the Fujian Provincial Party Committee under the Chinese Communist Party.
But Gordon said it was "coincidental" that when Yang supposedly appeared in the government, the administration's stance against China somehow softened.
"Mula nung napalapit ka kay Presidente, hindi na siya kumikibo pag nasasagasaan ang mga bangka naming mga Pilipino. Nalagyan na lahat ng base... at inari niyo ang nine-dash lane," Gordon said.
(Since you became close with the President, he no longer cared if the Chinese rams our boats. You put a lot of bases here and you also insist your nine-dash line)
"Mula nang dumating ka, nagbago na ang foreign policy ng Pilipinas. Naging bestfriend mo si President Duterte. Nagtataka lang ako."
(Since you came, the country's foreign policy changed. You even became one of President Duterte's best friend. I am just curious)
To which Yang replied: "I am not an agent sent by the Chinese Communist Party. Second, we were never involved or would dare to be involved in the foreign policy of the President."
"Number 3, what we wish for is really for the China and the Philippines to have very good relations and this is something we all want to see. I love the Philippines and I really want that China and the Philippines would have good relations," the businessman added.
Last week, Gordon floated the idea during his opening speech, alleging that Yang was sent by the Asian power to supposedly "earn the confidence" of Duterte.
Once frosty ties between Beijing and Manila thawed under Duterte, who has pursued investments and loans from China and shelved an arbitral ruling that junked its expansive claims in the South China Sea, which encroached into Philippine waters.
The maritime dispute flared again in March after some 200 Chinese ships swarmed the West Philippine Sea, the country's exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea. Beijing denied that the vessels were manned by militia.
At the height of the issue, Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque said the Philippines has not lost any territory to China under the current administration.
-- with a report from Johnson Manabat, ABS-CBN News