MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he did not know the details of the citizenship status of his erstwhile foreign affairs secretary, Perfecto Yasay Jr.
Yasay had to vacate his post after the bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday unanimously rejected his appointment for allegedly lying about his US citizenship.
Reacting to the CA's decision, Duterte noted that Yasay, his dorm mate when they were in law school, and other critics of then-President Ferdinand Marcos left the Philippines for the US to escape persecution during martial law.
“Maybe basig dito tagaan (kahit doon ay bigyan) sila ng temporary asylum and, of course, a travel document para maka-travel din sila to other parts of the world,” Duterte told reporters in Davao del Sur.
“After martial law years, they came back. I don’t know really what happened along the way. Definitely, I can say that Yasay was there not of his own choice, to live in America, but rather they were seeking asylum.”
Yasay initially told the CA he had never been a US citizen. However, documents that he had taken an oath as an American citizen later surfaced and confirmed by documents Yasay submitted to the CA.
Yasay insisted, however, that he never lied before the committee, and that a judicial court was the proper venue to resolve his citizenship.
“For the record I did not a lie in responding to the issues raised against me before the CA, contrary to what my partisan political detractors have claimed in the pursuit of their interest or agenda,” Yasay said in a statement.
“I am at peace with everything that I said, and I leave it to God - my refuge and my strength - to judge me on that score. I rest comfortably in the succinct words of wisdom of a dear friend that when politicians accuse you of not telling the truth, be of good cheer for they are lying.”