The Commission on Appointment (CA) rejected the nomination of Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. as the chief of Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday after he failed to clarify issues regarding his citizenship.
There have been fifteen members of the CA’s committee on foreign affairs who unanimously voted to reject Yasay’s confirmation.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the CA Committee on Foreign Relations stated that CA’s rejection of Yasay’s appointment should serve as a reminder to everyone that an oath is a solemn declaration accompanied by a swearing to God that one will be bound to a promise.
“The person making the oath implicitly invites punishment if the statement is untrue or the promise is broken. The legal effect of an oath is to subject the person to penalties for perjury if the testimony is false,” Lacson said.
Senator Panfilo was also saddened by the decision of Commission on Appointments’ in rejecting Yasay. When asked about the legal liability of Yasay, who served as Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chair from year 1995 to 2000, he said that matters like that would be left to the courts to determine.
“As a lawyer, he has his legal arguments to defend himself, and I think the proper forum would be the courts to determine whether he was an American citizen at one time in his life, or not as he says,” he stated.
Furthermore, Senator Francis Pangilinan advised Yasay to step down his position as Foreign Affairs Secretary in order to save Duterte’s administration from embarrassment.
Yasay was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte eight months ago, right from the start of his administration.
In previous statement of Yasay, he admitted that he was granted US citizenship in 1986 but he was then disqualified because he had a “preconceived intent of abandoning his US residency. Yasay also admitted that he took his oath as a US citizen on November 24,1986 but then provokes that this does not make him a US citizen. He also stated that he did not acquire legally America citizenship because after three months in January 1987, he returned back to the Philippines.
Yasay then, apologized to the panel for issuing a different statement and for not immediately admitting that he was naturalized as a US citizen and used to hold a US passport.
“Let me quickly apologize for having inadvertently misled the commission on this matter, it has never been my intention to deceive this commission about my citizenship status,” he said.
Yasay said he was denying the report for “lack of personal knowledge.”
“I did not lose my status as a Filipino for the reason that I did not validly acquire US citizenship, albeit that I took my oath as a US citizen, was issued a certificate of naturalization and given a US passport,” he said.
On the other hand, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo stated that Yasay could be replaced by incumbent Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.
However, an officer-in-charge may take over the DFA while the President is still deciding who will be the new head of the agency.