TIMELINE: Yasay's bout with citizenship doubts


Posted at Mar 09 2017 04:05 PM

Artwork by Maverick Pesigan, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Is Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr. a Filipino or an American citizen? 

This was the question that has shadowed his unsuccessful bid to secure the confirmation of his appointment to the Cabinet. 

Below is a timeline of the events that led the Commission of Appointment (CA) to reject Yasay's ad interim appointment as the top diplomat of President Rodrigo Duterte. 


May – Duterte announced that he has tapped Yasay, his college roommate, to serve as his acting foreign affairs secretary. 

June - Yasay assumed office as Duterte's foreign affairs chief. 

October - Yasay denied speculations, which spread on social media, that he has dual citizenship. 

He confirmed, however, that his children are all US citizens.


February 9 - The US government released a document listing the name "Perfecto Rivas Yasay Jr" among American citizens "who lost citizenship." 

February 22 – Yasay testified before the CA that he "never legally acquired American citizenship" and has never owned a US passport. 

The top diplomat explained that he lived in the US from 1978 to 1987 to "flee the Martial Law regime." 

During this period, Yasay said he applied for US citizenship and pledged allegiance to US, but said he "remained a Filipino." 

He said a visit to the the Philippines in early 1986 prompted him to declare intent to return to his home country, so his oath of allegiance was nullified. 

Since returning home in 1997, he has been a registered voter, ran for the Senate in 2003 and 2007, and made an unsuccessful vice presidential bid in 2010. In all these instances, Yasay said his Filipino citizenship was never questioned. 

February 28 - US-based immigration lawyer Lou Tancinco said Yasay’s "renunciation" of his US citizenship shows he became an American citizen.

March 6 - In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Yasay admitted he was granted US citizenship in 1986 but that he was disqualified because he had "preconceived intent of abandoning his US residency." 

He also admitted that he once had an American passport, but had since returned it. 

"I had an American passport but that has already been returned together with my naturalization certificate," he said.

March 8 - Yasay faced the CA anew and apologized to lawmakers for "inadvertently" misleading them on questions over his citizenship. 

Yasay admitted that he was granted US citizenship, but insisted that he did not lose his Filipino status. 

CA's 15-member bicameral body, in a closed-door meeting, voted unanimously to reject Yasay’s appointment. 

“In the short course of time since the appointment of Secretary Yasay, various compelling issues have been leveled at him in magnified proportions, all considerably relevant and pertinent to the deliberation of his fitness and qualification as the foreign affairs secretary,” said Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the CA’s committee on foreign affairs.