De Lima calls on Senate to investigate Michael Yang

MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima said on Friday, October 19, that there must be a full-blown congressional investigation into Michael Yang, a Chinese national who reportedly has close ties to Malacañang. 

De Lima particularly wants the Senate to look into whether Yang or any other foreign nationals have been appointed to certain capacities in government.

Republic Act No. 9225 or the Philippine Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003 says appointed public officials cannot be a citizen of another country. 

"The independence of the State from foreign control necessitates that the questionable citizenship of a presidential adviser be authenticated, and the nature and scope of his influence over foreign policy be fully disclosed," De Lima said.

Rappler obtained a photo of Yang's business card where he identifies himself as a presidential economic adviser. The card has a Malacañang seal.

Duterte denied Yang is his economic adviser "because he is a Chinese."

Who is Michael Yang?

Yang's name was made known to public because of the chatty Duterte himself, after he mentioned that the businessman is close to Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua.

Duterte made the statement because he wanted to clear Yang of drug links, after the Chief Executive was presented with a "dossier" on the businessman that alleged him to be either a drug addict or a drug pusher.

"Hindi 'yan totoo. Matagal na 'yan sa Davao (The allegation is not true. He's been in Davao for a long time)," the President said on October 4.

Yang has been seen in Malacañang whenever Chinese businessmen meet with Duterte.

"In conformity with the requirement exacted from public officers to at all times maintain allegiance and loyalty to the Philippines, there is a need to inquire into the citizenship of presidential appointees as public office held by a foreign national is inimical to the public interest and welfare," De Lima said.

De Lima said the investigation should also look into whether Yang usurped public office.

The issue of his business card bearing the Malacañang seal is also under question, because Executive Order Number 310, issued in 2004, said the presidential seal should be "exclusively used to represent the President of the Philippines."

Yang's office in Makati City also bears the sign "Office of the Presidential Economic Adviser.”

"More stringent penalties must be imposed upon any foreign national who willfully, knowingly, and conspicuously usurps into public office," De Lima said.  Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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