Gordon: Senate has right to ask about Michael Yang’s income


Posted at Nov 26 2021 11:27 AM

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MANILA— Government has the right to look into former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang’s source of income, Sen. Richard Gordon said, as Yang asked the Supreme Court to void a Senate arrest order and immigration lookout bulletin issued against him.

On Thursday, Yang, through his lawyer Raymond Fortun, also questioned before the Supreme Court the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s need for more information about his properties, his companies, his employees and his donations.

He said the Senate has not proven that he acquired any financial interest from the national budget or Bayanihan (pandemic emergency) funds.

“Well, in the first place, they’ve gotten a substantial amount of money from the government. By illicit means. They were favored. They were the favorite contractor,” Gordon said.

The chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee also said the Senate has the right to ask them about their income, because this might have come from illicit sources.

“Secondly, the Senate has a right to ask them because where did you get the money? Is this money coming from drugs? So we have the right to ask them: did this money come from illicit sources, which means the next topic of the conversation is, are you involved in money laundering?”

“You know, all of a sudden, they have fancy cars, they live in Forbes Park. Somebody who used to sell RTW? Excuse me, you don’t tell me we just keep quiet,” Gordon said.

“They already got a favor from the government and it’s a privilege only that can be pulled out. Masyado naman nilang binabasura ang Pilipino na (They are casting aside Filipinos that) they got this citizenship and now they’re saying, oh no you cannot investigate me.”

“Would [he] be given this kind of a treatment when they’re in China, when you’re in China? You know people don’t have rights practically when they’re investigated in China. Wala namang rule of law doon (There's no rule of law there),” he said. 

Gordon also said Yang cannot refuse to answer any of the senators' questions.

“No no no, because that’s the provision in the Revised Penal Code. That when they are summoned, they must provide [answers], otherwise we have to defend the prerogative of the Senate as a co-equal branch of government to protect its ability to be able to ferret out malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance and to create law in aid of legislation,” he said.

“You cannot, that’s why we have the power of contempt, we have the power of summoning them to the Senate. And of course, when they’re asked questions, they’re required to answer questions.”

Gordon also said they are looking at eventually deporting Yang.

“I’m glad that they’re putting money to Atty. Fortun’s, you know, retainer. I’m happy for him, but he’s not gonna be happy with what’s going to happen to Mr. Yang because we’re looking at deporting him eventually. [And] filing cases against him because he has violated the confidence of the people. And that he should not be given any sort of privilege anymore.”

Yang, who used to advice President Rodrigo Duterte on economic affairs, is alleged to have been involved in government’s deals with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., which allegedly sold government overpriced and substandard COVID-19 supplies.

Duterte himself has called the Senate probe on Pharmally a “waste of time.”

In October, then-Palace Spokesperson Harry Roque said "nothing criminal" has been proven so far against Yang, after Gordon indicated his possible deportation once charged over his alleged links to the questioned pandemic deals.

— ANC, 26 November 2021