House of Representatives

House panel assures public ‘credible resource persons’ invited to drug trade probe

Kaycee Valmonte

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

House panel assures public ‘credible resource persons’   invited to drug trade probe

PHARMALLY SCANDAL. President Rodrigo Duterte's former economic adviser Michael Yang during the House good government and public accountability hearing on September 20, 2021.

Rappler screenshot

Members of the House committee on dangerous drugs give the assurance after it called on former Duterte economic adviser Michael Yang to explain his alleged link to the illegal drug trade in the country

MANILA, Philippines – Amid criticism of their Senate counterparts’ drug trade probe, a House panel has assured the public that they will invite “credible” resource persons and witnesses to its investigation into the illegal drug trade in the country.

La Union 1st District Representative Paolo Ortega made the statement on Monday, May 13, after the House committee on dangerous drugs announced that it has called on Michael Yang to explain his alleged connection to drug syndicates in the country. Yang, who had served as presidential economic adviser to Rodrigo Duterte, is being linked to a P3.6-billion illegal drug bust in Pampanga.

We can assure the public that credible resource persons and credible witnesses ang maiimbitahan dito para maipakita natin na seryoso tayo in engaging ‘yung mga ganitong conspiracies or characters, para ma-assure ‘yung public na sa war on drugs na ginagawa ng administrasyong Marcos… ang key na ginagamit is real information,” he said in a press conference.

(We can assure the public that credible resource persons and credible witnesses will be invited here so we can show how serious we are in engaging these conspiracies or characters, so we can also show the public that in the war on drugs under the Marcos administration…the key [tool] is real information.)

House lawmakers had earlier expressed disappointment over how their Senate counterparts were handling an investigation into the alleged leak at PDEA, pointing out that their main witness, dismissed PDEA agent Jonathan Morales, lacked credibility.

Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa is leading the hearings of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs on alleged leaked PDEA documents.

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Ortega also stressed that the lower chamber will follow the proper process in handling the investigation. “Hindi lang ‘yan nadadaan sa barabara (You can’t just railroad the probe),” he added.

It was not the first time for Yang to get embroiled in controversy.

He was also linked to Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation, a company that got the biggest contracts and supplied the government with overpriced medical equipment during the pandemic.

Yang was the company’s financier and guarantor, backing Pharmally when they could not afford to pay their suppliers, although Yang denied this claim.

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Nakikita natin na talagang marami ang kailangang sagutin dahil na-i-involve ang kanyang pangalan sa iba’t ibang issues, even during the previous administration,” said Ako Bicol Representative Raul Angelo “Jil” Bongalon.

(We can see that he really has a lot to explain because his name gets involved in different issues, even during the previous administration.)

Ties to drug trade?

During its May 8 hearing, the House committee found that some of the incorporators of Empire 999 – the company that owns the warehouse where illegal drugs were found in September last year – used questionable and presumably fake Philippine documents for government requirements.

Abang Lingkod Representative Joseph Stephen Paduan also claims that Empire 999 created other shell companies or companies that are usually used for transaction purposes. These are apparently run by the same people who had links to the alleged “anomalous activities” under the Duterte administration.

Michael Yang, Empire 999, Pampanga P3-billion drug bust
ILLEGAL DRUG TRADE MATRIX? The House committee on dangerous drugs linked Michael Yang to the illegal narcotics trade through shell companies owned by Empire 999.

Among those linked to the shell companies is Yang’s interpreter and Pharmally director, Linconn Ong, who is said to be one of the incorporators of OMNI.

“I just want to make it clear that this is not conclusive,” Paduan said. “We just want to check the connection especially with regards to drugs and all those persons involved claiming to be Filipino.”

However, tracking down those said to be involved is another story.

“The activities of the other companies have not been unearthed yet, but the incorporators have gone into hiding already and have started disposing their assets,” said Surigao del Norte 2nd District Representative Robert “Ace” Barbers, who also chairs the committee. – Rappler.com

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