On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte denied speculations that he appointed Chinese businessman Michael Yang as his presidential economic adviser. He then added that Yang is not an official appointee since he is a foreigner.
In a speech before Philippine Military Academy alumni on October 4, Duterte cleared the name of Yang from any involvement in the illegal drug trade and refuted that the latter’s relations with some Chinese government officials indicated he was not involved in drugs. Yang is the owner of the Davao City Los Amigos.
While Duterte denied formally appointing Yang, it’s clear that the Chinese businessman enjoys enviable access to the Chief Executive. The Chinese businessman has been seen joining Duterte in some of his engagements such as during his lunch with the Friends of the Philippines Foundation back during his state visit to Beijing in October 2016.
He has also been present at meetings of Chinese businessmen with Duterte in Malacañang.
“Michael Yang was there in Davao 20 years ago. As a matter of fact, he is seldom — well, he is often seen with the Ambassador of China,” he said.
Yang also hosted Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade in his office as “presidential adviser.”