Senate orders arrest of Michael Yang, five others for snubbing hearing on pandemic deals

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The Senate issues warrants of arrest against former presidential adviser Michael Yang and five officials of the Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corporation for their failure to attend hearings on the Department of Health’s pandemic budget utilization. In this file photo, Yang walks alongside President Rodrigo Duterte.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 7) — The Senate on Tuesday issued warrants of arrest against former presidential adviser Michael Yang and five officials of the Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corporation for their failure to attend hearings on the Department of Health’s pandemic budget utilization.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III confirmed signing the two separate warrants against Yang and the Pharmally officials, namely Mohit Dargani, Twinkle Dargani, Krizle Grace Mago, Justine Garado, and Linconn Ong.

All six were cited in contempt and ordered detained “for unduly refusing to appear, despite due notices, at the hearings of the Committee on Aug. 27 and Sept. 7, 2021, and thereby delaying, impeding and obstructing the inquiry,” the warrant read.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s ex-adviser Yang, who has been linked to Pharmally, is being asked by the Senate to shed light on his ties to the government's biggest provider of medical supplies during the COVID-19 crisis.

Through a letter penned by his lawyer Raymond Fortun, Yang apologized for his absence during the hearings. He said he has not received a copy of the subpoena and added that he only learned of it from newspapers.

Senator Richard Gordon earlier said two subpoenas were sent to Yang’s home in Forbes Park.

Yang assured he will be present at the next scheduled hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Sept. 10, Friday.

“Although he has not received a copy of the subpoena, he has expressed his full and complete cooperation to provide information that your Honorable Committee may need from him in aid of legislation,” read his lawyer's letter, which was sent to Gordon’s office

In its arrest warrants, the Senate directed that the six be detained at the Office of the Sergeant-At-Arms “until such a time that [they] will appear and give [their] testimony, or otherwise purge [themselves] of that contempt.”

Meanwhile, Huang Tzu Yen, president and chairman of Pharmally, attended the Tuesday hearing virtually from his home in Singapore. The Singaporean executive said he found he has a standing warrant of arrest in Taiwan for breach of trust, but added that he has not received a formal subpoena.

He also said that he has been estranged from his father Huang Wen-Lieh since 2020. The older Huang is also wanted for what is considered as one of the largest securities fraud cases involving a listed firm in Taiwan.

RELATED: Head of Pharmally, PH's top medical supplier during pandemic, wanted in Taiwan

Duterte and Malacañang have defended Yang and the top officials of Pharmally.

Senators are looking into the deal of the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service (PS-DBM) with Pharmally worth ₱8.68 billion for the purchase of personal protective equipment and testing kits, which the lawmakers later found to be overpriced.