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Palace: Duterte to ‘kill’ adviser if found involved in drug trade

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PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO/TOTO LOZANO

By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

MALACAÑANG on Tuesday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte will “kill” his economic adviser Michael Yang if he is involved in illegal drugs.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said this in response to the allegations by dismissed police officer Eduardo Acierto that the Office of the President has ignored an intelligence report regarding the alleged involvement of Mr. Yang and a certain Allan Lim in drug trafficking.

Si Rody pa, naku (Mr. Duterte), you don’t know this guy. He will kill him if he’s involved,” Mr. Panelo told reporters in a chance interview prior to the Palace press briefing on Tuesday.

At the briefing, remaining unsuspicious of Mr. Yang, Mr. Panelo said the President’s trust and confidence in Mr. Yang “remains.” Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea said in a phone message that “Mr. Yang’s One Peso per annum contract expired on December 31, 2018.”

He also questioned Mr. Acierto’s motives, saying the dismissed officer, who has been implicated in drug smuggling, just “wants to get back” at the administration.

“He wants to get back, that’s why he is pointing fingers at whoever,” Mr. Panelo said, adding that “charges will be filed” against Mr. Yang if the report is “validated.”

“We’re waiting for the validation of any allegation on involvement.”

In his statement last year, Mr. Panelo said Mr. Yang, as a one-peso-a-year consultant-adviser, performs “advisory functions.”

“The President calls him from time to time and seeks his advice on economic matters as the need arises. He is, therefore, just part of a pool of consultant-advisers of PRRD. He alone cannot influence the shaping of the President’s policies for the country,” he said.

For his part, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar D. Albayalde said in a press briefing on Tuesday, “First, since I assumed office as Chief (of) PNP on April 2018, I do not remember having received any copy of an alleged report that identified presidential adviser Michael Yang as being involved in drug activities.”

He added, “If at all there was actionable intelligence on this report, Acierto should have acted on it and launched operations even without clearance.”

The police general, as Mr. Albayalde’s position is now officially referred to, also said Mr. Yang is not included in any watch list or investigation on illegal drugs.

“I can only speculate that Acierto could be doing all these indiscriminate allegations in a vain attempt to muddle the ongoing case resulting from his indictment in the P6.4-billion shabu smuggled inside magnetic lifters thru the Bureau of Customs,” Mr. Albayalde said.

Meanwhile, Senator Richard J. Gordon denied “blocking” the investigation into Mr. Acierto’s allegations after being informed about Mr. Yang’s alleged drug links during an executive session in the Senate Blue Ribbon’s investigation into the shipment of illegal drugs that slipped past the Bureau of Customs (BoC) last year.

The senator said Mr. Acierto has not been cooperative in the latter part of the Senate hearings on the issue as shown by his absences.

“He could just tell what was the involvement of the President. It’s his words against anybody. He is even saying I blocked him, I did not block,” Mr. Gordon said in a phone interview with reporters.

Senator Panfilo M. Lacson said Mr. Acierto’s allegations should be investigated “to clear the air to see if there is basis.”

“It (the investigation) should be pursued because it involves the highest position in government. They should pursue the investigation to clear the air to see if there is basis in his accusation. I’m not saying that his accusations were credible,” he told reporters. — with Camille A. Aguinaldo and Vince Angelo C. Ferreras

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