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De Lima renews call: Probe Michael Yang’s role as economic adviser

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Opposition Senator Leila De Lima on Friday pressed again for a Senate investigation into the appointment of foreign nationals to public office after Malacañang confirmed the appointment of Chinese businessman Michael Yang as Mr. Duterte’s economic adviser.

De Lima, a former justice secretary, said she hopes the legislative chamber will give priority to Senate Resolution No. 922 because the appointment of foreign nationals at the Office of the President (OP) is a cause for serious concern.

“As a matter of rule, we are not allowed to get a foreign consultant in the government because it can give them direct access to sensitive and confidential state information — passively or actively — which in turn threatens and undermines our national security,” she said.

“Given the existence of the two contracts of the OP with Michael Yang which confirms that the latter, a Chinese national, is engaged as economic adviser to the President with seemingly unlimited access to sensitive information, then all the more that the legislative chamber should investigate this matter,” she added.

In October, Duterte denied that Yang was his economic affairs adviser, saying that could not be true because Yang was a Chinese citizen.

But on Tuesday, Malacañang confirmed that Yang was in fact a consultant on economic affairs.

It turned out that DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra, then the senior deputy Executive Secretary, and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea signed Yang’s contracts for 2018.

In filing SR No. 922 last month, De Lima underscored the need to determine, among others, Yang’s relationship with Duterte and the extent of the Chinese national’s access to sensitive state information.

De Lima took issue on the President’s obvious lack of transparency over his dealings with Chinese nationals, which often failed to look into the long-term repercussions on the country’s economy and national security.

“Duterte’s lack of transparency and obvious inclination to favor Chinese nationals have led to concerns on whether he can truthfully and loyally serve the Filipino people without favoring his personal interests,” she said.