A ‘wang-wang’ for Michael Yang
It was President Duterte himself who provoked us about Michael Yang.
In a dinner in Malacañang on Oct. 4 for top echelons of the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association, Mr. Duterte quipped: “Ito daw si Michael Yang drug addict daw (They say Michael Yang is a drug addict).”
Then in his customary gibberish, Mr. Duterte offers astonishing information. First, that Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua sleeps in Yang’s residence whenever the ambassador visits Davao City. Then he follows that with another alarm, that Yang was part of the presidential entourage to China.
Mr. Duterte is reckless, it goes without saying. In fact, the bottom line of that information is this — by Mr. Duterte’s
own account, the Chinese ambassador is a drug protector.
Now here is where social media archiving comes in handy. Photos then circulated of Yang walking astride Mr. Duterte, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Ambassador Zhao along Beijing’s Wangfujing road during the presidential visit to China in October 2016. Another group photo showed Yang in Malacañang gesticulating to Mr. Duterte who was seated behind the presidential desk.
By the President’s account, Yang came to Davao City 15 years ago and opened the Los Amigos stores. Mr. Duterte provides us an intimation of Yang’s influence in Davao City, that Yang is present each time there is a big city event.
There is more than just the loose-lipped but guarded information Mr. Duterte provides us. The name Michael Yang is an alias for Yang Hong Ming.
The twist of the plot came when netizens stumbled upon Yang’s business card. Below the name Michael Yang Hong Ming was the title “Presidential Economic Adviser.” The card’s left side bore the seal of the Office of the President of the Philippines.
The Makati City address on the card bears the name “Office of the Presidential Economic Adviser.” The businessman’s corporate website also calls Yang by the same official title. The indispensable fact-checker Vera Files has now found the site to be inaccessible. Why?
A photo had also circulated of Yang’s Full Win Company Makati office. Below Chinese characters was proudly emblazoned in shining golden elements: “Office of the Presidential Economic Adviser.”
Was Yang, whose relatives have been linked to the drug trade and who is said to be a close associate of Paolo Duterte, appointed by Mr. Duterte?
Mr. Duterte now claims Yang cannot be his adviser because he is a Chinese citizen. Now that creates a problematic impasse. By having the presidential seal and official title extolled on his business card, Yang has committed a crime.
Article 177, Crimes Against Public Interest, of the Revised Penal Code penalizes usurpation of authority or official functions. By Yang’s false representation that Mr. Duterte now admits by disowning Yang, Yang may suffer the penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods.
There is more. Executive Order No. 310 of 2004 regulates the use of the presidential seal. The EO reads: “Violation on the proper use of the seal shall be severely dealt with administratively, civilly, and criminally.”
The mediocrity of the Duterte administration lies in its proclivity for impunity, for selective justice, for its sin of omission from choosing the best and the brightest (ergo, the worst and the dullest, e.g., Mocha Uson). Worst of all, this Yang Hong Ming affair exposes the Duterte administration’s horseplay in its disdain for the rule of justice.
Mr. Duterte jails his critics. That makes him a tyrant. He protects his friends who have committed crimes. That makes him a mediocre fictionist. Tyrants are mediocre fictionists.
Mr. Duterte himself claims he was elected on the message that he was the “Punisher” for those who transgress the law. The Tausug artist Toym de Leon Imao reminds us that the deadline for literary entries for the fiction category of the Palanca awards is in April 2019. Mr. Duterte can submit one as a fictionist,
albeit I doubt if the illustrious jurors will not see through the holes in his fairy tale.
On Twitter: @AntonioJMontal2. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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