PNP clears Michael Yang of drug links despite Acierto intel report

Rambo Talabong
'Otherwise, nagkaroon na ng investigation, at napabilang na ito sa mga bilang ng personalidad na involved sa illegal drugs,' says Philippine National Police spokesman Colonel Bernard Banac

DUTERTE CONSULTANT. President Rodrigo Duterte and his adviser Michael Yang pose for a photo inside an airplance. Photo from Philippine Full Win Group of Companies website

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) has cleared Presidential adviser Michael Yang of illegal drugs links, despite an intelligence report prepared by veteran anti-drug cop Eduardo Acierto alleging involvement in illegal drugs.

Sa ngayon, lumalabas na wala naman, cleared naman (For now, it appears that there are no drug links. He’s cleared),” PNP spokesman Colonel Bernard Banac said in a news briefing on Tuesday, March 26.

He also said: “Ito nga ay wala naman, wala namang kaugnayan ‘yung naturang tao sa illegal drugs. Otherwise nagkaroon na ng investigation, at napabilang na ito sa mga bilang ng personalidad na involved sa illegal drugs.”

(There’s really nothing. The person has no links to illegal drugs, otherwise, there should have been an investigation, and he should have been included in the list of personalities involved in illegal drugs.)

Cleared of what? On Sunday, March 24, Acierto surfaced and alleged that he submitted an intel report mentioning Yang as involved in illegal drugs. (READ: Ex-cop Acierto speaks out: Duterte, PNP ignored intel on Michael Yang’s drug links)

He handed the report to key officials in the Duterte anti-drug campaign: former PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa, incumbent PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde, former police director for operations Lieutenant General Camilo Cascolan, and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agencey (PDEA) chief Director General Aaron Aquino.

Aquino confirmed to Rappler that he relayed the intel report to Malacañang, which he said vowed to probe Yang. Despite the intel, Aquino said Yang was not included in President Rodrigo Duterte’s narco-list, which collects names based on intelligence information.

Acierto believed the report was ignored or blocked to protect Yang, a longtime acquaintance of Duterte.

On what basis? Pressed to share how they cleared Yang despite his intel report, Banac said he was just echoing the statement of Malacañang, which earlier cleared Yang.

Ang statement ng Palasyo at ng PNP ay iisa naman (The statement of the Palace and the PNP is just one),” Banac said.

The PNP, however, can still act on the intelligence report prepared by Acierto, but only if they see it fit to do so.

In an earlier interview with Rappler, Albayalde said Acierto had lost his credibility for not working on the case himself before he was dismissed from the service over an illegal firearms deal, and implicated in the multibillion-peso shabu shipment controversy in 2018.

“Why didn’t he do that when he had the chance? How can you prove his credibility now? He has no credibility. What’s happening is, he’s doing a shotgun,” the PNP chief said. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.