MANILA - Administration critics on Tuesday said Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. is no longer fit to be a member of the Duterte Cabinet after he supposedly lied under oath about his citizenship.
Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, an opposition lawmaker, said the bicameral Commission on Appointments should now reject Yasay's appointment.
"If you lie under oath it’s the duty of the CA to reject his appointment. It’s up to the Commission on Appointments to reject his appointment," Erice told reporters.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, chair of the CA’s foreign affairs committee, earlier said Yasay Jr. could face perjury charges if it was proven he lied under oath during a CA hearing.
Lacson cited a document that Yasay himself gave to CA member, Occidental Mindoro Representative Josephine Ramirez Sato, which shows that the country’s top diplomat was granted United States citizenship on November 26, 1986 and renounced it only on June 28, 2016.
In an interview on ANC’s Headstart on Monday, Yasay admitted that he had an American passport.
"I had an American passport but that has already been returned together with my naturalization certificate," he answered.
Yasay, nonetheless, insisted he did not lie to the CA when he told the lawmakers that he was never a legal US citizen. He argued, he was granted US citizenship in 1986 but that he was disqualified because he had "preconceived intent of abandoning his US residency."
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said it is not for the CA to just bypass Yasay’s appointment.
"Hindi lang bypass. Kailangan ito i-reject. Pero ang tanong, ‘Is Yasay an American citizen, a Filipino citizen or stateless?’ Palagay ko maliban doon, more than that, he's a liar,” Lagman said.
(His appointment should not just be bypassed. It must be rejected. The question is, "Is Yasay an American citizen, a Filipino citizen, or stateless?" Apart from that, it must be noted that he is a liar.)
Critics also called out the administration for supposedly practicing a double standard in the cases of Yasay and and self-confessed Davao Death Squad hitman Arthur Lascanas.
In October, Lascañas denied in a Senate hearing the existence of the DDS, which was allegedly used by longtime Davao City mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte to go after criminals and even political enemies.
However, Lascañas recanted his denial and admitted late February that the DDS indeed exists. Despite questions on his credibility because of his recantation, a Senate panel headed by Lacson decided to hear his claims.
Lacson’s panel, however, on Tuesday decided to terminate the probe after only one hearing. Several senators cited Lascañas’ supposed lack of credibility.
Magdalo party-list rep. Gary Alejano said, "Kapag si Yasay ang nag-recant ng kaniyang oath eh parang accepted sa Malacañang pero si Lascañas kapag nag-recant ng kaniyang statement hindi acceptable.”
Lagman, for his part, said: “Look at how the administration would assess situations in their favor and reject the situation which are against it.”