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‘Michael Yang’s associates have gone into hiding’

MANILA, Philippines — Associates of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s economic adviser Michael Yang, who is being investigated by a House committee for drug links, may have all gone into hiding after being found to have faked their identities and used spurious documents to acquire vast landholdings in the country.

This was according to Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, who said the Chinese nationals “pretended to be Filipinos” so they could engage in a property buying binge, most likely for their illegal activities like drug trafficking.

“They (Yang’s associates) never showed up (at committee hearings). Even the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) could not locate them. There is a saying that flight is indicative of guilt,” the Surigao del Norte second district congressman said.

“If they are really innocent, we urge them to come out and explain their roles in the labyrinth they created,” Barbers said, referring to Yang’s allies Aedy Yang, Henry Yang and Elaine Chua, among others.

“I always say that we have no problems with Chinese nationals doing legitimate business in our country. But doing these illegal drug activities is another story. We have extended all invitations to these people and we have observed due process,” he said.

“Using fictitious documents and corporations,” Barbers said the Chinese “went on buying sprees and allegedly bought hundreds and possibly thousands of hectares of agricultural and residential lands” in the Ilocos region during the previous Duterte administration.

They have also “started building warehouses,” Barbers said.

“These very suspicious activities have stopped as soon as we started the investigations. So now, they again resorted to hiding these assets by ‘selling’ them to other Chinese nationals. We promise that we will leave no stone unturned in getting to the bottom truth of this mess,” he said.

He also said there is nothing new about Yang’s alleged drug connections, particularly to the P3 billion worth of shabu seized in Mexico, Pampanga in 2023.

“The connection of alleged drug lord Michael Yang to these drug activities is no surprise. Remember that in the past administration, he