The Department of Foreign Affairs has put on hold the application of former Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. for renewal of his Philippine passport pending resolution of questions surrounding his citizenship by “competent authorities.”
Yasay filed the application March 9, a day after the 15-member Commission on Appointments rejected his appointment as head the country’s foreign service for lying about his American citizenship.
“At this writing, we have received instructions from Acting Secretary (Enrique) Manalo to suspend or hold in abeyance the issuance of the passport to former Sec. Yasay pending resolution of the legal question by competent authorities,” Assistant Secretary of Consular Affairs Frank R. Cimafranca said.
Asked about the DFA’s move, Yasay said, “I don’t know about that. They did not inform me.” He declined further comment.
Sources close to Yasay said the former secretary’s Philippine passport issued in 2013 is valid up to mid-2018. He applied for Express Processing (seven working days) and paid P1,200.
The DFA’s Office of Consular Affairs said the only requirement for renewal of an e-passport is the current passport.
Before Manalo issued the instruction to suspend action on Yasay’s application, Cimafranca said, “The question or determination of Sec. Yasay's citizenship properly belongs to a court of competent jurisdiction in the Philippines. In the absence of that legal determination, he has in his favor the presumption of regularity with respect to the issuance of his current passport.”
Cimafranca said the Office of Consular Affairs has sought the opinion of the DFA’s legal office on Yasay’s application.
President Rodrigo Duterte named Yasay foreign secretary immediately after the May 2016 elections even as he also said he had offered the position to his running mate, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.
Cayetano, who lost in the vice presidential race, was at the time covered by the one-year election ban on candidates being appointed to executive positions.
Duterte and Yasay’s friendship dates back to their law school days when they were roommates at the YMCA dormitory in Manila. Duterte was then taking up law at San Beda College and Yasay at the University of the Philippines.
Yasay had denied speculations about his U.S. citizenship. Media investigations, however revealed that he was granted citizenship by the United States government on Nov. 24, 1986. He officially renounced his U.S. citizenship at the U.S. Embassy in Manila on June 26, 2016, two days before he assumed the position of Philippine foreign secretary.
Last March 8, the Commission on Appointments unanimously rejected Yasay’s nomination, the first of Duterte’s appointees to suffer such a fate. Manalo, a career foreign service officer, was appointed acting foreign secretary.
(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)