Anti-drug cop Eduardo Acierto resurfaces, challenges Gordon to bare intel report

Franco Luna, Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Former cop Eduardo Acierto has resurfaced in a video challenging officials in the Duterte administration to act on his earlier intelligence report on Michael Yang, the businessman and former presidential adviser being linked to allegedly irregular pandemic contracts.

In his first public statement in years, the former deputy director for administration of the PNP Drug Enforcement Group asked why the Senate blue ribbon committee and other government offices failed to act on the leaked document in 2018.

The video called attention to Acierto's earlier report that allegedly links President Rodrigo Duterte's former economic adviser Yang to a clandestine drug lab that Acierto's unit raided in Davao City.

Acierto, an ex-police senior superintendent who has been in hiding since 2019, claimed those seeking to "hide the truth" persist in their attempts to find him and kill him.

"I'm asking Gordon and the blue ribbon committee to publish my intelligence report on Michael Yang and Allan Lim," Acierto said in Filipino.

Acierto has made similar claims in the past, saying in 2019 that his report had been ignored by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Palace. PDEA, in September, said that the Michael Yang who was adviser to Duterte was not involved in the drug trade.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Wilkins Villanueva is quoted in a previous report telling a House hearing that Yang would have been killed long ago if he were involved in drugs.  

"I'm not the drug lord. The real drug lords are Michael Yang and Allan Lim, along with their protectors," Acierto insisted in the video, accusing President Duterte and his former aide, now a senator.

Acierto: Pharmally mess could have been avoided

He also claimed that the Senate would not be investigating the government's deals with its favored pandemic supplier, Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., if it had acted on his initial report in 2018.

"Surely now you can see that I was telling the truth. The truth is coming out now... If they didn’t hide my report, Pharmally’s corruption would not happen [and] the lives of healthcare workers wouldn’t be put at risk because of delayed, substandard face masks and face shields," Acierto claimed.  

Yang drew controversy again this year after he was linked to Pharmally, the company that got a bulk of government contracts for protective gear against COVID-19. Executives of the controversial firm in September identified Yang as their financier and guarantor to suppliers but the businessman has denied having any connection to the firm. 

Allan Lim, also known as Lin Weixiong according to the report, is also a person of interest tagged in the panel’s investigation into government’s deals with Pharmally.

His wife, Rose Nono Lin, claims he is not the Allan Lim referenced in the report. Senators, however, believe otherwise. 

Appearing before the panel on September 17, Lin denied allegations that her husband has links to the drug trade, maintaining that he is a Chinese businessman who conducts business with other Chinese nationals in the Philippines like Michael Yang. She also told the panel last week that her husband is currently in Dubai. 

Yang downplayed his relationship with Lin Weixiong, but the latter's wife told senators on November 4 that the two are "business partners." 

Rodolfo Quimbo, director-general of Blue Ribbon Oversight Office Management, told Philstar.com that the panel invited Lin to attend last week’s hearing through his wife’s lawyer but he has yet to surface. 

Who is Eduardo Acierto?

After the release of his report in 2018, Acierto found himself on the receiving end of allegations after an investigation by the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group. A "secret special report" by the Palace later implicated the cop in the anomalous procurement of over a thousand AK-47 rifles that ended up in the hands of the New People’s Army.

Acierto categorically denied the allegations in his latest video. "I am innocent in this. I did my job and investigated. I am not the drug lord... I did not smuggle AK-47s, and I did not turn over any guns to the NPA," he said. 

At the height of the controversy brought about by Acierto’s report, the president asked the police and military at a public address: "Why is Acierto still alive?"

Duterte also brought up but did not name Acierto in his State of the Nation Address in July, saying he was aware that the former police officer was alive and in hiding. 

"I'd like to ask Congress, especially Senator Bato [dela Rosa], kindly dig on [this] because we have identified the person who imported the AK-47 into this country on the pretext of using it in the security," Duterte said then in mixed Filipino and English. 

"This policeman, I think, is still there. He was a colonel and he is still... nothing happened. And many soldiers have died because of the arms that they brought here to the Philippines."

Duterte referred to him as an "idiot Filipino who has caused great damage to our country."

Dela Rosa, who admitted receiving the report, said he ordered Acierto to work on the case.

The Department of Justice in 2019 indicted Acierto and two other former officials tagged as "core conspirators" in the smuggling of billions of pesos worth of shabu last year.

The disgraced cop also slammed officials who he said went silent after he presented his report. They are:

  • Former PNP chief Bato dela Rosa
  • Former PDEA chief Aaron Aquino 
  • Former PNP chief Oscar Albayalde
  • Unnamed senior Palace officials 

"Why did they not act on my report? Instead of investigating what I was saying, why did they go after me? Duterte even ordered [police] to kill me," he said.

In a 2019 interview with ANC, Palace spokesperson and presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo claimed that the Michael Yang referenced in the report was not the same Michael Yang who served as President Duterte’s former economic advisor. 

Pages from the report, however, includes photos of the same Michael Yang who served as Duterte's former adviser and alleged backer of Pharmally.

'Did I show that report to the public?' 

Michael Yang and Lin Weixiong were first linked to Pharmally after a video posted by state media in 2017 resurfaced, showing them attending a meeting in Davao City with Duterte and the firm’s executives. 

In a Pharmally hearing held on September 10, Sen. Risa Hontiveros presented an excerpt of Acierto’s report to ask if one of the men who attended the 2017 meeting is, in fact, the same Allan Lim allegedly linked to the illegal drug trade and arrested in a 2003 raid in a shabu laboratory in Cavite.

Gordon acknowledged the report at the time, agreeing to subpoena both Lim and his wife to attend the hearings. Rose Nono Lin later told senators that he was present at the meeting but denied that he was the same Allan Lim from the report. 

The senator, whose ties with Duterte have soured since he opened the inquiry into the administration’s spending of pandemic funds, referenced the report again on September 17. 

“You know, Mr. President, I was even generous towards you. Acierto came here, he told me that you, Yang, and Allan Lim were involved...he even showed us a picture,”  he said in Filipino, addressing Duterte directly. 

“Did I show that [photo to the public?] During our 2018 investigation? Those billions of pesos that the PNP allowed to be lost in Cavite?” 

This photo shows President Rodrigo Duterte meeting with former economic advisor Michael Yang and Allan Lim.
Screengrabbed from Acierto's video

Duterte a few days prior had accused Gordon of flip-flopping on the report, which the Senate blue ribbon chairman had dismissed years earlier as lacking evidence. The president during the same recorded address claimed Gordon had "forever lost his credibility" by using evidence submitted by ex-cops who are now alleged criminals. 

Detained Sen. Leila de Lima two days later released a statement blasting Duterte for his "double standards," on witness credibility, citing the Department of Justice’s use of criminal convicts as witnesses in the drug cases filed against her. De Lima has been calling for the public release of Acierto's report since 2019. 

A blue ribbon committee report released in 2018 identifies Acierto as the supposed "linchpin" in the shabu shipments that the panel investigated for months. Some members of the committee called on the PNP and PDEA to arrest several personalities involved, including Acierto, a recommendation the latter urged Gordon to rescind. 

Sens. Paolo Benigno Aquino, Chiz Escudero, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, Grace Poe, Antonio Trillanes, chose not to sign the report, as reflected in a digital copy of the document posted on the Senate website. 

Acierto in his video claimed he was only able to attend three Senate hearings on his reports: one while wearing a catheter, and the other inside Gordon’s office. 

"I could not attend the hearings anymore after that because they already wanted me dead, and the plan was to ambush me outside the Senate after the hearings," Acierto said of the committee’s hearings in Filipino. "The search for me continues to kill me and hide the truth," he claimed.

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