Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr.
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MANILA – The chairman of the bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA) said Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. could be held liable for perjury for stating under oath that he did not acquire US citizenship.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, who chairs the CA, made the statement following a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer that Yasay did become an American citizen in 1986.
Yasay earlier told members of the CA that he did not acquire US citizenship but admitted being a green card holder holder or a permanent US resident in the 1980s. The CA had deferred confirmation of Yasay’s appointment because of questions over is citizenship and until he can submit supporting documents to the commission.
The Inquirer reported that Yasay became a US citizen in 1986 and had sought to renounce it in 1993 but failed to reacquire Philippine citizenship. Yasay formally renounced his American citizenship on June 28, 2016 or two days before he was sworn into office in June last year, according to the report.
Yasay said in an affidavit dated Feb. 23, 1993 that he submitted to the CA he “was granted United States citizenship” on Nov. 24, 1986 but his decision to return to the Philippines within a year made him “ineligible and disqualified for such citizenship.”
Congressman Abraham Tolentino, who is a member of the CA representing the House of Representatives, said he cannot consider Yasay liable for perjury for now because the foreign affairs secretary may have strong evidence in his defense.
He also said being a green card holder doesn’t necessarily equate to being a US citizen.
Tolentino also said Yasay was able to run for senator and even for Vice President in past elections, thus the Commission on Elections (Comelec) considered Yasay a Filipino citizen.
Meanwhile, Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Malacanang supports Yasay despite the Inquirer report. “I think Mr. Yasay has already made a very credible and logical, reasonable response regarding the matter,” Abella said in a press briefing yesterday. GAC/Expat Media
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