Palace defends Yasay: He has been 'open, transparent'
MANILA, Philippines – On the eve of the confirmation hearing of Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr, Malacañang defended the Cabinet official as being "open" and "transparent" on questions about his US citizenship.
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella made the statement on Tuesday, March 7, when asked about the pronouncements of Commission on Appointments (CA) members that they are "sure" to reject Yasay's appointment when he faces them on Wednesday, March 8, because of US citizenship questions.
"Secretary Yasay has already made a statement. It was logical, credible, and open and transparent," Abella said in a Palace briefing on Tuesday. (READ: U.S. citizenship issue hounds Yasay ahead of CA confirmation)
CA Majority Floor Leader and Isabela 1st District Representative Rodolfo Albano III said that many from the House contingent in the CA were thinking of rejecting Yasay's appointment. The 12-member House contingent is known to vote as a bloc.
In the Senate, CA members said they believe Yasay had indeed been a US citizen despite his denials.
Malacañang, however, stands by Yasay's denial.
"Let's leave it to them. As far as he [has] conveyed verbally, he said that he was granted [US citizenship[ but he never really obtained it," said Abella.
Asked for a Palace statement on the issue, Abella read Yasay's previous statement asserting that while he was granted US citizenship, it was "invalid because of a preconceived intent to abandon" his US residency.
Three months after being granted US citizenship, Yasay said he "returned to the Philippines for good as a Filipino." (READ: TIMELINE: When Foreign Secretary Yasay was a foreigner)
Asked if President Rodrigo Duterte is preparing options in case the CA rejects Yasay's appointment, Abella said he could not respond as this would be "speaking ahead of time."
On Monday, Yasay admitted in an ANC interview that he once owned a US passport despite denying the same under oath during a CA hearing.
His admission means he can be held criminally liable for perjury.
A notice released by the US government on February 9 lists Yasay among American citizens "who lost citizenship." – Rappler.com