MANILA -- Malacañang on Friday clarified that President Rodrigo Duterte did not say businessman Michael Yang is involved in the drug trade.
In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque played a portion of the video of Duterte’s speech where the President had actually cleared Yang from any involvement in illegal drugs.
“Pero kung sabihin mo ‘yung Michael Yang lalabas ni… Hindi ‘yan totoo. Matagal na ‘yan sa Davao. (But if you say Michael Yang... it’s not true. He has been in Davao for a very long time),” Duterte was quoted as saying.
To support his remark clearing Yang, Duterte said the Davao-based businessman was even part of the entourage of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang who visited Manila in November last year.
“I think it’s very clear that what the President meant to say was: Number one, he cannot believe that Michael Yang is involved in the drug trade. And number two, because he was saying he could not believe that Michael Yang is involved in the drug trade, the report that the President linked the Chinese Ambassador to a drug lord is obviously false,” he said.
Roque particularly mentioned online news site Rappler for coming out with a "malicious" report that could affect the improving relations between the Philippines and China.
“That report by Rappler is wrong, false, even malicious. It is also very dangerous, because it could possibly endanger the bilateral relations between the Philippines and China,” he said.
“I call on Rappler to be responsible and to give the profession of journalism a favor by issuing the corresponding errata and to correct its story,” he added.
Rappler has responded and corrected its report, which has been cited by international wire agencies.
“Obviously because it has gone international, it would have dire consequences for the diplomatic relations between the Philippines and China,” Roque said. (PNA)