Drug lord, cohorts cited in contempt for snubbing hearing on alleged drug links—Barbers

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    FB_IMG_1679106603664.jpgSurigao del Norte 2nd district Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (Rep. Barbers’ Facebook)

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Five Chinese realty traders, including suspected drug lord Willie Ong, were cited in contempt by a House of Representatives panel after they continued to snub the ongoing hearing about their alleged participation in the shipment of illegal drugs seized last year in Mexico, Pampanga.

    Surigao del Norte 2nd district Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, the chairperson of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, said his panel was considerate with all invited resource persons and witnesses despite others' failure to attend.

    “This committee has been very patient with you but we have certain limitations. Those who were issued subpoenas yet still failed to attend are now being cited in contempt. The necessary warrants will be issued for their arrests in accordance with the Rules of the House,” Barbers said during a recent hearing.

    “Others not yet cited in contempt are given this last warning. If in the next hearing you will still be absent, we have no choice but to cite you in contempt,” he continued.

    Barbers noted that under the 1987 Constitution, Congress has the power to investigate in aid of legislation. To exercise such power, Congress inherently possesses the power to compel the attendance of witnesses and resource persons, he said.

    “This power carries with it the power of citing any of these persons in contempt should they fail to honor the invitations,” the lawmaker pointed out.

    Aside from Ong, who has the Chinese name of Cai Qimeng, his associates who are also facing arrest were identified as Aedy T. Yang, Elaine Chua, Michelle S. Sy, and Jack T. Yang.  

    While the House drugs panel originally intended to investigate the shipment of 530 kilos of shabu worth P3.6 billion in Ong’s warehouse—under his company Empire 999—lawmakers also found that Ong and his associates posed as Filipinos to obtain at least 320 titled prime lots. 

    According to records from the Land Registration Authority (LRA), these lots are worth several billions of pesos. 

    “The Chinese incorporators of Empire 999 were able to secure fake documents like birth certificates and passports which they used to illegally buy 320 titled prime lands in various parts of Central Luzon, particularly in Pampanga, in Metro Manila, and other parts of the country,” said Barbers.

    “They were also found to have close ties with certain local government officials who facilitated the transactions and granted the permits they needed to construct buildings, warehouses, and other facilities in their illegally acquired lands,” he added.

    He cautioned that if Chinese personalities can pose as Filipinos and “bribed their way” towards controlling the economy by grabbing lands, committing crimes, controlling politicians, and sowing disunity among the public, then there is no doubt that there is a “creeping Chinese invasion”. 

    “I would like to make it clear that I’m not espousing Sinophobia here. But to say that this has become a national security concern is an understatement,” the congressman stressed.

    The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has zeroed in on Ong for forging a late registration scheme to obtain a birth certificate which he used to acquire a Philippine passport.

    To retrieve his passport, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is currently facilitating its cancellation for “misdeclaration and false statements, and lying under oath”.

    In addition, Barbers said the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the LRA are now working in collaboration with other concerned government agencies to have Ong’s anomalous land acquisitions be forfeited in favor of the government.