Michael Yang has no drug links: PDEA

Rodrigo Duterte
Richard Gordon

Manila, Sept. 15 -- Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Wilkins Villanueva has cleared President Rodrigo Duterte's former economic adviser Michael Yang of allegations of involvement in illegal drug activities.

Speaking during Duterte's Talk to the People on Monday night and aired Tuesday morning, Villanueva recounted a 2004 anti-drug operation of the now-defunct Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOTF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Davao City.

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"Kahit hagilapin mo sa lahat 'yan, Sir, walang Michael Yang diyan, sir. Kahit sa Case Operation ng Crystal Gold and Case Operation of White Crystal ng AIDSOTF, walang Michael Yang doon (Even if you dig everything up, Sir, there is no Michael Yang there. Even in Case Operation Crystal Gold and Operation of AIDSOTF, there is no Michael Yang there) Sir, because we know the personalities," Villanueva, a retired police officer, told Duterte.

This came amid allegations made by dismissed police official and then AIDSOTF chief Eduardo Acierto that Yang is involved in illegal drug activities.

Yang reportedly has ties with local firm Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. that bagged some PHP8.68 billion worth of deals for pandemic response last year, now being probed by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

"According to the record check na inilabas ng (released by the) Directorate for Intelligence of the Philippine National Police, sometime March 28, 2019. According to them, Allan Lim, whose picture together with the President and Michael Yang, was presented to media by dismissed police officer Eduardo Acierto, who dragged -- was also dragged for involvement in the illegal drug trade. However, he has no reported illegal drug activities, based on record of the Directorate," Villanueva said.

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice, upon Sen. Richard Gordon's request, issued an immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO) against Yang and eight other persons as the committee continues to look into how the Covid-19 response funds were spent.

This came after Yang skipped the Senate probe on Monday as he was reportedly suffering from hypertension, his lawyer Raymond Fortun said.

Villanueva, meanwhile, said Acierto "made up stories" to make it appear that Allan Lim, another businessman who has alleged ties with Yang and Pharmally, and a certain drug personality known as Wen Li Chen are the same person.

"Tingnan natin, Sir (Duterte), 'yung ilong ni Wen Li Chen at 'yung ilong ni Allan Lim, ang laki ng diperensya, Sir. Ito Sir 'yung ilong niya (Wen Li Chen), nakataas. Ito sir kay Allan Lim, 'yung ilong niya nakababa. Iyong ilong ni Allan Lim malapad,'yung ilong ni Wen Li Chen makitid (If we look at it, Sir, we will see the noses of Wen Li Chen and Allan Lim. Wen Li Chen's nose is pointing upward. Allan Lim's nose is pointing downward. Allan Lim's nose is wide while Wen Li Chen's nose is narrow)," Villanueva told the President, while showing the difference between Lim and Wen's facial features.

Acierto was ordered dismissed from the service by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2015 for his involvement in the selling of AK-47 rifles to communist rebels from 2011 to 2013.

In 2019, a Manila court ordered Acierto's arrest and seven others implicated in the smuggling into the country of some PHP4 billion worth of shabu inside magnetic lifters in August 2018.

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