OPINION: Out of DFA, Yasay has difficulty renewing passport

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 13 2017 12:33 PM | Updated as of Mar 13 2017 12:35 PM

Life is like a wheel. One moment you are up and the next moment you can be down.

That is happening to Perfecto Yasay Jr, foreign secretary since the start of the Duterte administration last July 2016 until last Wednesday, March 8.

When Yasay was foreign secretary, his office was swamped with requests from relatives, friends and friends of relatives and friends to facilitate their application and renewal of passports.

And Yasay’s office always was willing to help, even if it was just a band-aid solution to the serious problem in its passport processing.

On March 9, the day after the Commission on Appointments rejected the nomination of Yasay to head the country’s foreign service, he himself was having difficulty renewing his regular passport, which he obtained in 2013 and was due to expire in mid- 2018.

On Friday, the DFA’s consular office sought the opinion of its legal office on the legality of renewing his current passport given the information that came out during the CA hearings: he took up American citizenship in 1986 and he only officially renounced it at the U.S. Embassy in Manila on June 28, 2016, two days before he assumed his position as foreign secretary. He was not known to have applied for Filipino citizenship which he lost when he became an American citizen in 1986.

In the absence of a legal determination of the status of his citizenship, the DFA was inclined to presume regularity and renew his passport.

“We would rather err on the side of prudence by renewing his passport rather than err and infringe upon a person's constitutional right to travel. At least, the former action can still be remedied with cancellation of the passport,” a consular official said.

Later, however, the DFA upon instructions from acting Secretary Manalo decided to hold in abeyance the issuance of the passport to Yasay “pending resolution of the legal question by competent authorities.”

A source close to Yasay said he somehow expected this to happen. That’s why he decided to renew his passport early although he plans to go to the U.S. next year yet for his “regular cancer monitoring.”

“He anticipates that his detractors will not stop at anything to destroy him, “ Yasay’s friend said.

Yasay’s concern is not exactly unfounded because the facts that have been uncovered about his becoming an American citizen since 1986 (he submitted an affidavit of renunciation of his U.S. citizenship to the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in 1993 by registered mail) has possible legal complications.

In 1993, he was appointed commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He became SEC chairman from 1995 to 2000. Some are asking, were his acts as SEC official legal when he was not a Filipino citizen at that time?

While waiting for the renewal of his passport, Yasay can take comfort in what his friend and communications consultant Dante Velasco wrote: "’Head was bloody but unbowed’ is how William Ernest Henley ("Invictus") would have described our friend Jun Yasay. The patriotic Filipino, who fought, stood and suffered for this country in a period of oppression and suffering during the dark years of Martial Law, has experienced a redemptive pain. They who inflicted such pain must review their own selves if the judgment they passed on was not so harsh. History will tell.”

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Still twisting in the wind for the confirmation of her nomination as environment secretary is Gina Lopez.

In public, President Duterte supports her saying between the P70 billion that the mining industry contributes to the government and Lopez, he would “rather follow Gina . . . Get the P70 billion somewhere else, preserve the environment. Huwag na tayo magbolohan.”

He also told those opposing Lopez’s appointment: “Kaya if you have something in mind against Gina Lopez. Kindly rethink. Think of her passion,” he said

The behind-the-scene power play, however, takes a different tone.
Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano posted in Facebook his observation: “You will only know the weight of Duterte's endorsement when members of CA were directly instructed to confirm a certain appointee like what happened to (Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II. ‘Mahigpit ang bilin na i-confirm si Aguirre,’ according to one of the members of CA.

“Gina? She was left alone to fend for herself. Public support of Duterte to Gina is just rhetoric.”

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Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.