A year after CA rejection, Yasay says PH passport issue 'resolved'

MANILA, Philippines – A year after the Commission on Appointments (CA) rejected his appointment as foreign secretary, lawyer Perfecto Yasay Jr said he thinks the problem with his Philippine passport has been "resolved."

Thursday, March 8, marks the first year since the CA unanimously removed Yasay from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) after a series of Rappler stories exposing his American citizenship

Questions about his citizenship, which surfaced during the CA hearings, prompted the DFA to hold "in abeyance" the issuance of a Philippine passport to Yasay, according to independent news website Vera Files

When asked about his Philippine passport, Yasay said on Tuesday, March 6, "Napulitika ako diyan eh (I was a victim of politics)."

"But I think that has been resolved. I don't see any problem, because everybody knows I'm entitled to the passport anyway," Yasay said on the sidelines of a hearing at the House of Representatives on passport application delays.

Rappler is still verifying with the DFA's Office of Public Diplomacy if Yasay was eventually issued a Philippine passport. 

Vera Files reported on March 13, 2017, that the DFA "decided to hold in abeyance" the issuance of a passport to Yasay, when he applied for it soon after the CA rejected him.

This was because it was unclear if Yasay reacquired his Filipino citizenship after losing it in 1986, when he became an American citizen.

Life 'much, much better'

Yasay formally renounced his US citizenship only on June 28, 2016, two days before becoming DFA chief. 

The CA rejected Yasay's appointment because lawmakers said he lied by saying he never became a US citizen and never owned a US passport. 

Yasay was the first official of the Duterte administration to be rejected by the CA.

After his rejection on March 8, 2017, Yasay was replaced by Acting Secretary Enrique Manalo and eventually by the Philippines' current top diplomat, former senator Alan Peter Cayetano.

On Tuesday, Yasay said if he stayed on as DFA chief, he "would have wanted to see" the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas "take over the printing" of Philippine passports, an issue he is vocal about. 

Yasay also appeared at Tuesday's hearing on passport delays.

Asked how he is now, Yasay said: "I'm okay. I'm really perfect. I'm in good health. I could never be happier enjoying my free time to play golf." 

Life, he added, is "much, much better." – with reports from Bea Cupin / Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.