Michael Yang vows to attend all Senate probes, requests for interpreter

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 9)— Former presidential adviser Michael Yang will be attending all succeeding Senate inquiries on the Health department’s pandemic budget utilization, his lawyer said on Thursday.

“This is to confirm the attendance of our client, Mr. Michael Yang, in all hearings of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee from September 10, 2021 until the same is terminated,” Atty. Raymond Fortun wrote in a letter addressed to Senate President Tito Sotto and Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Richard Gordon.

Yang’s camp, however, requested for an interpreter in the hearings as the Chinese businessman “has difficulty expressing himself in English or Filipino” and would prefer to answer the lawmakers' questions in native Mandarin.

“With your Honors’ kind indulgence, in order to aid in communication, may we ask that an interpreter be made available in all hearings who can translate the Senators’ questions to Mandarin and later translate Mr. Yang’s responses thereto to English,” Fortun added.

The lawyer also asked for Yang’s interpreter to be allowed by his side as a “silent” participant— in case translations would require corrections.

The Senate earlier this week issued a warrant of arrest against Yang— a former economic adviser of President Rodrigo Duterte— due to his absence in the chamber’s hearings.

Yang has been put on the spotlight in the past days due to his alleged ties to Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corporation, a firm that bagged billions of pesos in government contracts but is being questioned by lawmakers for deals that involved supposedly overpriced COVID-19 supplies.

Sotto said the warrant against Yang may be lifted once he appears in the probe. He added the Senate can also provide a translator for the proceedings.

Duterte has repeatedly defended his former appointee. In a speech on Wednesday, the chief executive said the Davao-based businessman was only a “middleman” and did not have any criminal record.