Blue Ribbon asks DOJ to put Michael Yang on watchlist

The Senate Blue Ribbon committee has formally requested the Department of Justice to place former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang, AKA Yang Hong Ming, on a watchlist to prevent him from leaving the country after he skipped – claiming health reasons — Monday’s hearing on questionable procurement of multibillion-peso pandemic supplies.

In a letter to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, copy furnished Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente,  the Blue Ribbon’s chairman Sen. Richard J. Gordon asked that Yang be placed on a BI hold-departure order, a watchlist, or lookout bulletin, “or whatever is appropriate,” and to inform the committee if Yang is “about to leave the country.”

Late Monday, Guevarra had said that he would oblige any request for issuance of a watchlist order as long as he receives a formal request from an agency, including a coequal body like the Senate.

The possibility of Yang’s fleeing the country emerged after the businessman, whom President Duterte called his friend, skipped Monday’s sixth Blue Ribbon hearing on the Commission on Audit (COA) 2020 report on “deficiencies” in the Department of Health (DOH) management of over P62 billion in pandemic response funds last year.

Yang had earlier evaded two subpoenas from the Senate, but attend the Sept. 10 hearing virtually from Davao.  However, after senators affirmed a contempt citation on him late Friday for giving “evasive” answers as he distanced himself from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., Yang called in sick for Monday’s hearing, as conveyed through lawyer Raymund Fortun.

Yang told senators his only role in Pharmally was in introducing them to four Chinese suppliers for personal protective equipment, but testimony by Pharmally director Lincoln Ong showed he had “lent” the startup firm an unspecified amount so it can deliver on multibillion-peso supply contracts.

On Monday, Gordon estimated that in all, Yang was named as having lent funds of nearly P5.7 billion to Pharmally, a low-capital and newly incorporated firm that got the biggest share of PPE contracts from the P42 billion in DOH funds transferred to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM).