Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. is the first Cabinet secretary from the Duterte administration to be rejected by the Commission on Appointments.
AP/Bullit Marquez, File photo
Perfecto Yasay fails to secure confirmation as DFA chief
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - March 8, 2017 - 2:05pm

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED 3:00 p.m.) — The congressional Commission on Appointments (CA) voted to reject the appointment of Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. following his failure to disclose the status of his citizenship.

Yasay is the first Cabinet member of the Duterte administration to be rejected by the CA after lying under oath. Yasay told the committee that he did not lie,but admitted that he did not fully disclose the details of his citizenship.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on foreign affairs, announced that the CA members voted unaminously to reject the appointment of Yasay.

"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 [CA] committee on foreign affairs hereby moves to reject the ad interim appointment of Atty. Perfecto Rivas Yasay Jr. as secretary of Foreign Affairs," Lacson said in a televised hearing.

Lacson noted that the CA is the proper forum to determine the qualifications and fitness of Yasay as Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

"Let this be a reminder to everyone present in this hall that by definition, an oath is a solemn declaration accompanied by a swearing to God or a revered person or thing that one's statement is true or that one will be bound to a promise. The person making the oath implicitly invites punishment if the statements are untrue or the promise is broken," the senator said.

The foremost requirement for an appointee to qualify for a Cabinet position — or, indeed for any position in civil service — is to be a citizen of the Philippines.

In his February 22 confirmation hearing, Yasay said that he never legally acquired American citizenship. But in an interview with ANC's "Headstart" on Monday, the secretary said that he used to have an American passport, which is only given to US citizens. 

He insisted, however, that he was disqualified from acquiring US citizenship as he had the intent to abandon his residency in the US.

At Wednesday's confirmation hearing, Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato, a CA member, raised Yasay's withdrawal of his naturalization in the US only in June 2016, when the Duterte administration took over. The US confirmed the request in February 2017.

Sato said that Yasay did not undergo the procedure to formally disavow his US citizenship prior to his appointment to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

According to the commission's website, an "ad interim appointment ceases to be valid upon disapproval by the Commission on Appointments."

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs said that it will await President Rodrigo Duterte'sappointment of a new secretary of Foreign Affairs.

In a text message to Philstar.com, DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said that the agency respects the CA's decision to reject Yasay's appointment.

"In the meantime, we will ensure that the transition will go smoothly (and) that the DFA continues to carry out its work effectively," Jose said.

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS PANFILO LACSON PERFECTO YASAY
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