Gordon frustrated at Yang's ‘arrogance' at Senate probe

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Gordon frustrated at Yang's ‘arrogance’ at Senate probe
© Screen grab/Senate PRIB Senator Richard Gordon at blue ribbon committee hearing, August 31, 2021. Screen grab/Senate PRIB

Senator Richard Gordon on Thursday expressed frustration at Chinese businessman Michael Yang’s arrogance during a Senate probe into the questionable transactions of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation with the government.

At the resumption of the Senate blue ribbon committee, Gordon asked Yang about the number of buildings that the latter is renting in Davao City.

Yang answered that he is only renting one building called “DCLA ” in the province.

Gordon then asked the number of floors in the building but Yang did not directly answer the senator’s question.

“Because of the pandemic there’s no one there anymore,” Yang said in Mandarin as translated by his interpreter.

“I didn’t ask about the pandemic, ilan ang umuupa sayo? (how many people are renting there?)” Gordon asked.

Yang then responded, “I need to check how many because I cannot really say sure, I would need to check.”

With this answer, Gordon began calling Yang an arrogant man because of how the latter answers the legislator’s questions.

“Alam mo Mr. Yang, ako ang dating ko sayo wala akong iniisip na masama pero tinitignan ko lang kung anong sagot mo. (You know what Mr. Yang, I have nothing against you but I am looking at your answers.),” he said.

“Pero marami ring nanunuod sayo, at maraming nagtetext sa ‘kin dito, ang sinasabi arogante ka, nangaasar ka, yan ang tingin sayo ng tao. (But many are watching you, texting me about you, saying ‘you are arrogant’ that’s how they are seeing you.),” he added.

“Ikaw ay isang banyaga sa bansa namin, yan ang tingin sayo ng tao. Walang natutuwa sayo, kaya magpakatino ka,” Gordon further pointed out.

(You are a foreigner in our country, that’s how people view you. No one is happy with you so fix your behavior.)

After Gordon’s rant, Yang denied that he is being arrogant, adding that he loves the country.

“I would just like to say, I came here to the Philippines and I really love this country and I am not arrogant and I really don’t know what other people think of me but I’m just simply doing business here,” he said.

To which, Gordon said his aim was only to determine if Yang’s business transactions are legal.

“Disente ba yang negosyo mo? Yun lang. Walang masama, maganda naman yung negosyo mo,” Gordon said.

(Is your business decent? That’s it. Your business is good.)

The Senate blue ribbon committee is investigating the transfer of P42 billion COVID-19 funds from the Department of Health to the PS-DBM, which resulted in PS-DBM’s purchase of P8.6 billion worth of COVID-19 supplies from Pharmally.

Pharmally, which is being linked to Yang, only had a P625,000 paid-up capital when it entered transactions with the government.

Yang denies he lent money to Pharmally

Yang denied he provided financial assistance to Pharmally when quizzed by Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.

“Did you extend assistance to Pharmally to fulfill its contracts with the government?” Drilon asked.

With the help of his interpreter, Yang said, “Personally, I did not.”

Drilon asked Yang if Pharmally officer Lincoln Ong was lying in his testimonies that the Chinese businessman helped their company. 

“You were saying Mr. Ong was telling the committee a lie that you provided or assisted Pharmally monetarily to help in the execution of Pharmally’s contract? Although Mr. Ong said I cannot reveal the amount,” Drilon said.

In response, Yang said Ong was not lying, adding that he only “recommended friends who made advanced payments” to help the Pharmally executive.

Following this, Drilon said he will confront Yang again regarding this, further saying that he will first suspend his interpellation.

But Senator Richard Gordon, chair of Senate blue ribbon committee, chimed in, pressing Yang to answer Drilon’s questions on the sworn statements by Pharmally officials that Yang lent money to the beleaguered firm.

Gordon then quoted Pharmally president Huang Tzu Yen’s previous statements

“Mr. Huang rescued him. He said actually, Mr. Yang really lent us money. You provided money to Pharmally. That’s the question,” said Gordon.

In a September 10 hearing, Huang stated on the record that the company did receive financial aid from Yang. 

Huang said, “I just want to state on the record that we did receive Michael Yang’s help, with borrowed money from him.”

“The company, not personally,” Huang added.

When Yang continued to insist that he only introduced his friends to Pharmally officials, Gordon insisted that Yang is calling the officials liars.

“You can continue to insist that but I am concluding that you are saying that Mr. Huang is a liar and Mr. Ong is a liar. Because you keep saying, don’t admit the fact that they said that you provided money and support. That you keep saying you just got friends who supported them which is a downright lie,” Gordon pointed out.

But Yang again denied this, insisting that the Pharmally officials may have misunderstood him.

“I am not saying that they are lying or they are liars, I think that is what they understood,” Yang said.

At the end of Gordon’s interpellation, he maintained Huang’s previous statements in the Senate probe that Yang indeed lent them cash.

“That’s what Mr. Huang said very clearly. And I’ll let it stay. Did you understand it Mr. Yang? You can read it on the transcript,” said Gordon.

When Yang repeated his previous answer, Gordon ended the conversation by repeating Huang’s admission that they borrowed cash from Yang.

“You can say that on and on until you are blue in the face… Mr. Huang actually said he borrowed money from you and you allowed it. There was no mention of friends. I want to say those are very serious statements… that you are lying,” he said.

No real estate investment

Yang also denied having investments in real estate in Davao when quizzed at the hearing.

Senator Risa Hontiveros cited news report from Xiamen, China about his alleged investments.

“May nahanap po kaming article sa isang dyaryo sa Xiamen na ang pangalan ng dyaryo na Sun News, 2016  article ito tapos nakasulat sa article more than 10 years ago … Michael Yang founded the Yangtze River group in the Philippines and engaged in investment in department stores and real estate,” Hontiveros said.

(We found an article in a newspaper in Xiamen with the name of the newspaper Sun News, it was dated in 2016, which was written more than 10 years ago. The article stated that more than 10 years ago Michael Yang founded the Yangtze River group in the Philippines and engaged in investment in department stores and real estate.)

“At that time the headquarters of the Yangtze River group was located in Davao City and the mayor of Davao City is the current President Duterte,” she added.

Yang claimed that the department store was pertaining to his DCLA property, which was also presented during the Senate hearing.

“In Davao, I don’t have any real estate and investment. I’m into trading,” Yang said.

Hontiveros also asked about his appointment as Duterte’s former special economic adviser.

“I think maybe this question you can ask the president or maybe he thinks that he knows me for so many years and he know sthat I am Chinese and I know many Chinese so maybe I am more familiar with the other Chinese, but for this question I think it is best to ask the president,” the businessman said.

Asked about his duties and responsibilities as the special economic adviser, Yang said, “This is a matter between the president and me. This is a confidential matter, I cannot answer this question.”

Duterte earlier defended Yang after being dragged into the controversy involving allegedly overpriced face masks and face shields procured by the government.

“Michael Yang has been in business for 20 years, he started in Davao. Hindi iyan ang Instik na kinukunan ko ng pera [I don’t get money from him],” Duterte said in a taped address aired last Aug. 31.—LDF, GMA News


This article Gordon frustrated at Yang’s ‘arrogance’ at Senate probe was originally published in GMA News Online.

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