Senate panel to probe influx of foreign cash to PH on Thursday

Robie de Guzman   •   March 4, 2020   •   1670

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, led by Senator Richard Gordon, is set to investigate on Thursday, March 5, the reported influx of billions of pesos-worth of foreign cash brought into the country by alleged organized syndicates.

Gordon, in a Senate session on Wednesday, revealed that from September 2019 to February 2020, $447 million or equivalent to P22.7 billion were brought into the country based on the report of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

The sums of cash were allegedly carried by 47 individuals, mostly Chinese nationals, arriving in the Philippines from Hong Kong and Singapore.

Gordon said the large sums of cash were declared as investment and gambling funds.

The BOC earlier said that couriers of the money are able to escape detection because they are escorted by police, military or airport officials, based on their monitoring.

“Everyday, may pumapasok. Every other day, ‘yung taong nagpasok, meron na naman siya, three days later. So, talagang masusi ang trabaho,” Gordon said.

Under Philippine laws, any person is required to declare any amount exceeding $10,000 or its equivalent to other foreign currency being brought into or out of the country.

The Department of Finance (DOF) earlier ordered the BOC to coordinate with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to investigate the matter.

The senator said Thursday’s hearing seeks to probe whether the influx of foreign cash into the country is linked to the operation of offshore gaming firms in the country which mostly employ Chinese nationals.

He added that Blue Ribbon panel also wants to know if these sums of money are being used in any illegal trade or activities.

Gordon said an invitation to attend the hearing has already been sent to officials from the AMLC, DOF, Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Immigration. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

DOJ to issue immigration lookout bulletin order against Michael Yang

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 14, 2021

Michael Yang

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice will issue an immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO) against former presidential adviser Michael Yang on Tuesday, Secretary Menardo Guevarra announced.

This is in response to the request of Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Senator Richard Gordon to place Yang under an immigration watchlist.

Gordon on Monday (September 13) wrote to DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra to seek issuance of an immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO) against Yang.

A similar request was previously submitted to the DOJ for former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao and seven others, to which an immigration lookout order had been released.

Yang and Lao are both under probe due to alleged deficiencies in the use of the P67-billion budget for pandemic response under the Department of Health (DOH) which was reflected in the 2020 Commission on Audit (COA) report.

The Blue Ribbon has been investigating the government’s handling of COVID-19 response funds, including the procurement of supposedly “overpriced” face masks and shields. AAC

 

Duterte tells Cabinet execs to get clearance first before attending Senate hearing

Robie de Guzman   •   September 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday ordered Cabinet members to seek his clearance first before attending Senate inquiries.

 “I will require that the Cabinet members invited to your [Senate] hearings that he will clear the invitation with me,” Duterte said in a taped public address that was aired on Tuesday.

The president issued the statement as he once again criticized the Senate for holding investigations into the government’s pandemic response for the alleged anomalous transactions and purchase of pandemic supplies.

Duterte said he is not questioning Senate’s authority to conduct investigations in aid of legislation. However, he noted that some officials invited as resource persons, especially those coming from the Executive department, have attended the hearings for hours but are not given the time to say their testimonies.

He also acknowledged the upper chamber’s power to cite a person in contempt but stressed that as the president, he can also exercise his authority over his Cabinet members.

“May option kayo to cite the person in contempt. Ako na magsabi. Ako ang may utos na hindi mag-attend,” he said.

“I think I can do it as a president really if there is an abuse of authority there or exceeding the authority of the reasonable time that the Congress conducts hearing I will limit what you can do with the Rxecutive department of the government,” he added.

He also accused lawmakers of “stretching” the hearings as part of their strategies come 2022 elections.

“Tingnan ko kung pabalik-balik na lang with no other purpose except to ramble, to stretch the hearing because that is good for election until may be the election itself. Okay man yan because you are entitled to your own strategy,” he said.

Duterte likewise said he will campaign against Senator Richard Gordon for being an “unfit” lawmaker.

Gordon is the chairman of Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that is holding a probe into the government’s COVID-19 response.

Michael Yang ‘no-show’ in Senate probe due to high blood pressure

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang was a ‘no-show’ during the continuation of the Senate probe on ‘overpriced’ medical supplies procured by the Department of Health (DOH).

Yang’s legal counsel Raymond Fortun on Monday (September 13) said that the doctor had advised Yang to take a rest after his blood pressure went up. Fortun also said he is prepared to submit a medical certificate as proof of Yang’s condition.

“His blood pressure had suddenly shot up. And for that reason, he was advised by his doctor to just stay home. Apparently, because of the proceedings, his health has been affected,” he said.

However, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairperson Senator Richard Gordon said the Senate Committee will not give Yang a free pass.

“He can appear, he is not under pressure there, he is in Davao where he is comfortable, he can bring his doctor if he will and we want to see him. You know that always occurs when somebody’s under investigation they come in a wheelchair, show they picture that they cannot appear,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corporation director, Lincoln Ong, is still under house arrest since he is still recovering from COVID-19.

The Senate probe was opened after the Commission on Audit (COA) reported the DOH’s transfer of P42 billion funds to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the procurement of face masks and face shields at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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