Ex-presidential adviser Michael Yang asks SC to nullify Senate committee's arrest orders

Published November 25, 2021, 11:49 AM

by Rey Panaligan 

Supreme Court

Former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang on Thursday, Nov. 25, asked the Supreme Court (SC) to nullify the arrest orders issued against him by the Senate’s Blue Ribbon Committee which is investigating the alleged anomalous government purchases with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.

The arrest orders were issued by the Senate’s committee last Sept. 7 and 10. The committee had also recommended the filing of criminal charges against Yang in its initial investigation report.

Yang, in his petition filed through lawyer Raymond Parsifal A. Fortun, also sought the nullification of the lookout bulletin issued against him by the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

He told the SC the Senate’s committee violated his rights under Article III of the Constitution which “defines the rights of the individual by limiting the lawful powers of the State.”

Among other issues, Yang said in his petition:

“The respondent Senate Committee has instead acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to a lack or excess of jurisdiction in treating resource persons as if, nay, worse than an accused in regular court proceedings, unrightfully judging their guests as ‘lying’ at the slightest hint of inconsistency and completely ignoring any explanations made.

“The respondent Senate Committee had deprived all such resource persons of their Constitutional right to counsel by refusing to recognize the latter, thus perpetuating an adversarial scenario where ‘witnesses’ are subjected to compound/complex or vague questions, and exposed to bullying or badgering that would have otherwise been obviated by timely objections by counsel.

“The respondent Senate Committee had violated the petitioner’s rights to privacy by compelling him to reveal his properties, corporate papers and business transactions despite the same not having any connection to the matter in inquiry, including asking about his supposed links to illegal drugs despite the sheer absence of evidence of his engagement therein.

“The respondent Senate Committee has allowed itself to be used by its chairman as an unrestrained pulpit in his word war with President Rodrigo Duterte, thus revealing a malevolent intent to shame the petitioner in order to hit back at the President.”

He said he believed on the power of the Senate committee to hold a witness in contempt for testifying falsely or evasively.

But, he said, “when such power is exercised with such grave abuse and, despite being confronted with the truth, refuses to believe the same, certiorari lies to reverse the effects of such abusive exercise.”

There is another case ending at the SC involving the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s investigation.

In the first case, the SC has required Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea and Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III to answer the Senate’s petition to declare unconstitutional a directive that bans officials and employees of the Executive Department from appearing in hearings being conducted by the Senate’s Blue Ribbon Committee.

The answer or comment on both the plea for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and the petition should be filed in a non-extendible period of 30 days from receipt of the resolution.

On top of the plea to declare unconstitutional Medialdea’s memorandum issued last Oct. 4, the Senate wanted the SC to stop immediately through a TRO the implementation of the order pending resolution of the case.

It was not known immediately if the two petitions would be consolidated into one case.