President Rodrigo Duterte said former economic adviser Michael Yang has been in business for some 20 years amid issues of alleged overpriced medical supplies purchased by the budget department.
In his pre-recorded public address aired Tuesday morning, Duterte said Yang, a Davao-based Chinese businessman, was just one of the many businessmen who have invested in the country.
“Michael Yang has been in business here in the Philippines for 20 years. He started in Davao,” he said partly in Filipino.
He cited Yang’s ties with former Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, as some kind of “sidekick” who even accompanied the ex-envoy in meetings.
“I thought we are inviting investors? That’s why we went to China several times to ask them to help us,” he said.
Amid allegations that Yang was linked to illegal drugs, Duterte said China, which he considers a friend, would not allow the Philippines to secure deals with Yang if he was involved in illicit drugs.
“If it’s true, Chinese intelligence would warn us ‘Not that. Do not allow him to…’ Because I am a friend of China, they’ll tell me the truth,” he said in Filipino.
He accused Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon of “sinophobia” for focusing on Yang’s alleged involvement in Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., the contractor linked to the alleged overpricing issue.
In a Senate hearing last week, Gordon showed 2017 footage showing Yang and Duterte meeting with officials of Pharmally.
Duterte also lambasted dismissed police officer Eduardo Acierto who linked Yang to the illegal drugs trade.
“Acierto was one of the top kidnappers. Don’t fool us…it’s good you were dismissed),” he said in Filipino.
Malacañang already dismissed Yang’s alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade in 2019.