SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

“There is no Michael Yang here,” one of the occupants of the house on 19 Narra Avenue, Forbes Park, a billionaires’ village, in Makati City told Senate subpoena servers.

But the subpoena servers from the Senate’s Sergeant-at-Arms Office were not deterred by the claim that they got the wrong address; they stayed on.

A messenger bringing a parcel which had Michael Yang for its receiver was entertained by the same occupant who shooed the subpoena servers away earlier.

That was an indication that Yang would not answer the Senate summons.

As this column was being written, Senate President Tito Sotto was about to sign a warrant of arrest against Yang.

It should be noted that Sotto and President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte are close allies.

Sotto couldn’t do anything but follow protocol in issuing the warrant against the Chinese presidential crony.

Sotto’s action showed that nobody is above the law, not even a close friend of the President’s.

This jerk is probably under the impression that his friendship with the President would spare him from prosecution.

Yang’s friends in Malacañang should advise him to submit himself to Digong’s coequals in the legislature.

He has nowhere to go.

*      *      *

Yang Hong Ming a.k.a. Michael Yang rubs people the wrong way among his fellow Mainland Chinese and the locals.

He is a perfect example of an arrogant upstart and interloper.

My first encounter with Yang took place in 2017 in Malacañang.

I was taking China Mainland real estate tycoon Xu Min Liang – known in the country as Jose Kho – who had asked me to introduce him to the President.

Kho was accompanied by his sons Kitson and Luis and a Chinese lady to the Palace.

Xu or Kho was going to build a P500-million drug rehabilitation complex in Malaybalay, Bukidnon in grateful appreciation for being allowed to do business in the country.

Xu/Kho is currently reclaiming hundreds of hectares of land from the sea off Tondo, Manila to turn it into a Singapore copycat with classy residential condominiums and business establishments.

Kho approached me because he heard of my closeness to the President.

While Kho, his sons and the lady were waiting to have an audience with the President, somebody called me on my cellular phone and asked if another Chinese could join in.

I said yes and Michael Yang came in. I thought that Yang would come next to us in having an audience with the President.

I was flabbergasted when Yang stood up, went straight to the President as the latter entered the room where we were waiting.

Yang summoned Kho and introduced him to the President, leaving the rest of us confused.

Who the heck is this guy who just barged in and, without a by-your-leave, introduced my guests to the President? I asked Kho’s sons and the woman.

Yang took away my task of introducing my guests to Digong.

Yang even inserted himself into a photo session with the President and the Khos, leaving me on the sidelines.

The elder Kho later apologized to me profusely.

And Yang? While I was telling the President about Kho’s plan to build a drug rehab center in Bukidnon, I could see from the corner of my eye that Yang was staring at me from head to toe.

*      *      *

Are some government officials on the payroll of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., which has been ordered to pay back taxes to the Bureau of Customs (BOC)?

The Supreme Court, after years of presiding over the battle between Shell and the government, recently lifted its order restraining the BOC from demanding payment from the firm.

Shell owes the government – per computation made by the BOC in April 2020 – P141 billion in back taxes.

However, Batangas Port Customs Collector Ma. Rhea Gregorio has served Shell a demand letter for only P3.49 billion.

Gregorio said the amount covers the period from 2014 to the present.

One of Gregorio’s predecessors, John Tan, who exposed Shell’s back taxes, was relieved from his position and given punishment assignments until his retirement.

Gregorio said she was waiting for the final computation of Shell’s total debt from the BOC’s post clearance audit group.

The clearance post audit group will determine how much in interests, surcharges and penalties Shell should pay.

Gregorio is apparently careful not offend Shell, given what happened to Tan.

Meanwhile, Shell is exhausting every means possible to delay payment of the total amount it owes the government by filing another appeal with the Court of Tax Appeals.

And the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), which represents the government in court cases where the government is involved, seems disinterested in pursuing the tax case against Shell.

Why is the government sluggish in demanding payment from the oil firm?

If it’s really serious in demanding payment, the BOC can suspend the accreditation of Shell as an importer. This way, all its present and future importations of oil can be withheld at the Batangas Port.

*      *      *

First, there was an order for Metro Manila to revert to GCQ (general community quarantine) from MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine).

And then the government changed its mind and said MECQ will remain in force until Sept. 15.

GCQ is the lowest level of lockdown; MECQ is a stricter lockdown and ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) is the most severe lockdown.

People in Metro Manila, expecting to go back to work in their offices and to dine outside their homes, were flabbergasted by the seesaw order.

Why doesn’t the government just enforce the “MMCQ” and do away with all those CQ’s?

MMCQ stands for Matira ang Matibay (survival of the fittest) community quarantine.


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with