Bato says he ordered Acierto to follow up intel on Michael Yang’s drug links

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 15) — Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Wednesday denied ignoring an intelligence report on the alleged drug links of Chinese businessman and former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang.

Dela Rosa, former chief of the Philippine National Police, said what he did was order then anti-drug operative Eduardo Acierto to do a follow-up.

“If my memory serves me right, nagsubmit siya ng papel, binasa ko, then binalik ko sa kanya. Sabi ko, ikaw man ang deputy director ng PDEG (PNP Drug Enforcement Group)... trabahuhin mo yan,” Dela Rosa said as he led the Senate committee hearing on the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s proposed budget for 2022.

[Translation: If my memory serves me right, he submitted a document, I read it, then returned it to him. I said, since you are the PDEG deputy director, work on that.]

Dela Rosa said Acierto never submitted a progress report. In 2019, Acierto accused Dela Rosa of disregarding the intelligence information to protect Yang. He made the same allegation against President Rodrigo Duterte, former Special Assistant to the President and Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, and then PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino.

“Siya (Acierto) ang nag disregard sa information niya, wala siyang progress na ibinigay,” Dela Rosa said. “I am the chief PNP, alangan namang I will go down to your level na ako pa ang mag surveillance niyan.”

[Translation: He disregarded his own information by not giving any progress report. I am the chief PNP, it’s not right that I will go down to your level and conduct the surveillance on my own.]

Dela Rosa recalled that when Yang was starting to do business in Davao City, then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte asked him to watch the Chinese businessman closely.

"I was given the instruction by then Mayor Duterte na 'bantayan mo 'yang tao na 'yan.' Kasi alam mo na, call it sinophobia or what ('to watch that man.' Because you know, call it sinophobia or what)," Dela Rosa said.

"Trabahuhin mo, meaning magconduct ka ng operations kung talagang involved sa droga (Work on it, meaning conduct operations if he's really involved in drugs)," Dela Rosa recalled Duterte as saying.

"During my time, wala akong nakita (I did not find anything)," said Dela Rosa, who served in Davao City for years before Duterte appointed him as the country's top cop in 2016.

Duterte and his officials have repeatedly defended Yang.

READ: Duterte, PDEA dig up past to defend Michael Yang vs. alleged drug involvement 

After doing business in Davao City for more than two decades, Yang is now in the middle of congressional hearings due to his connection to Pharmally Pharmaceutical. It’s the government’s biggest supplier of medical goods during the pandemic – bagging billions of pesos worth of contracts despite being a small corporation with limited financial capability. Pharmally officials confirmed they borrowed money from Yang to finance their big-ticket projects.

The Senate has issued a warrant of arrest against Yang for allegedly lying during the September 10 hearing, but this has not yet been served. Yang is now on the Immigration’s lookout bulletin, but his lawyer, Raymond Fortun said this was not necessary as his client is willing to cooperate and has no plans of leaving the country.