Philippine Commission on Appointments rejected Perfecto Yasay Jr. as DFA secretary for being a US citizen

DFA Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. Photo © REUTERS/ Romeo Ranoco

THE Philippine Commission on Appointments has unanimously rejected President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointment of Perfecto Yasay Jr. as his foreign secretary for being “a United States citizen.”

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, CA’s Committee on Foreign Affairs chairman, said Yasay’s “unfit” to lead the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) because he is not a Filipino citizen. He added that Yasay cannot also be reappointed because his nomination is already rejected by the CA.

“We know how close Atty. Yasay is to the President and it did not deter the commission from acting independently. And because in the view of the majority, because nobody objected, he was not telling the truth,” Lacson said.

Lacson observed that Yasay is “not forthright in the question and answer portion of the two hearings we conducted (last February 22 and March 8). We decided to reject his ad interim appointment.”

He stressed that the “foremost requirement” to qualify for an appointive position as part of the executive department is the possession of Philippine citizenship as stated in Section 45 of Executive Order No. 292, as amended, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987.

EO 292 states that: “To be appointed as member of the President’s official family, secretaries shall be citizens of the Philippines and not less than 25 years of age.”

Although the Constitution has vested the President the power to appoint members of the executive as a form of check and balance. It is also granted the Commission of Appointments the authority to approve or reject any appointee of the President belonging to the first level of appointment founded on the qualifications, and fitness and character of the appointee,”  Lacson explained.

Thus, in the exercise of the said right, the commission has gone over the qualifications and issues besetting the appointee. After careful deliberations of the foregoing circumstances and upon a unanimous vote of 15 of its members present in a caucus held this morning, this representation as chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs hereby moves to reject the ad interim appointment of Attorney Perfecto Rivas Yasay Jr. as secretary of Foreign Affairs,” he added. 

Pressed whether the CA will file perjury charges against Yasay, Lacson said: ”Well, any member of the CA, any taxpayer p’wede naman mag file ng perjury dahil taxpayer ka, aggrieved party ka.”

During his CA confirmation, Yasay maintained that he “did not” lie.

I may not have fully disclosed what was required in my answering this question but this is really normal in a process like this when you are ask before in an august body like this, questions like the one that have been asked of me you got nervous.”

You somehow come out with answers that you do not intend. And I apologize for that. But now precisely I came out with my statement in writing to make sure that I will not be misunderstood on this respect,” Yasay said.

Yasay explained that he indeed had applied for naturalization in 1986 and it was granted to him that same year.

I was even given a naturalization certificate and on the basis of that naturalization certificate I was issued a passport,” Yasay told mediamen.

Three months later in violation of the immigration and nationality laws of the United States, I abandoned my residence in the US to return back to the Philippines and remain here for good,” he added.

This is what I testified all along and this is supported by all of the affidavits I presented. I could not be inconsistent with these affidavits that  presented and I’ve said all along that indeed I was disqualified that time I applied for naturalization and on that basis I returned my naturalization certificate.”

Moreover, Yasay said “In 1993 when I applied for a visa to enter the United States again I was granted a tourist visa as evidence of the fact that I was not an American. If I was an American, the American Embassy no less should have rejected that application for visa but it was given to me in 1993.”

I returned back and forth to the United States on the basis of my Philippine passport and on the basis of that visa that was granted to me. That visa was valid up to 1994. Then in 1995 I wanted to go back to the United States again as a visitor and I applied for a visa and granted a temporary visa or B1 and B1 that was valid from 1995 to 2000. And then from 2000 I was again renewed up to 2005, then 2005-2010, 2010-2020,” he said.

The CA, however, rejected his explanation.

The CA, on the other hand, approved the appointment of the following Foreign Service Officers: Jay Francis Galino Alcantara, Redentor Diaz Genotiva, Carlyn Andrino Monastrial, Kristine Margret Mendiola Malang, Anna Marie Cano Santos, John Francis Solano Herrera, and Arvic Ventura Arevalo.

Earlier, Senator Francisco “Kiko” Pangilinan has advised Yasay Jr. to “withdraw” his confirmation before the Commission on Appointments (CA) to save himself from further embarrassment.

Kung talagang gusto n’yang iwasan na lang ang dagdag na iskandalo at kontrobersiya, mag-withdraw (na lang siya). Huwag na lang niyang ituloy ‘yung kanyang confirmation (sa CA) to spare the administration from further embarrassment,” said Pangilinan in a chance interview with Beyond Deadlines.

He said Yasay will face tough confirmation process after he lied about his US citizenship.

Mahihirapan siya dahil lantaran ang pagsisinungaling niya sa komisyon. Paano naman ang gagawin namin dito? Ano sasabihin ng publiko sa trabaho natin na ganyan-ganyang lang eh ‘di natin paninindigan?” he stressed.


Bernadette Escalo, MGM
Bernadette Escalo is an active veteran journalist with a Mass Communication and Masters in Government Management (MGM) degrees from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. She has experience in covering all major Philippine news beats -- the Office of the President, the Armed Forces, the Judiciary and Congress. Aside from the national beats, Ms. Escalo has experience in covering international events as she also covered the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summits in Indonesia (1995) and Malaysia (1998); the World Economic Forum in Hong Kong (1997) and Singapore (1998); and the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference meetings in Canada (1997) and Mexico (2002). She is also among the very few who wrote about the humanitarian work of the Philippine military contingent in East Timor (1999) and Iraq (2004).

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