Is Cayetano American? No, he says
MANILA, Philippines – With a predecessor whose American citizenship served as his kryptonite, newly nominated Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano is likely to face a similar issue.
But for the senator, his case and that of Perfecto Yasay Jr are different. (READ: Yasay lied under oath, now admits owning U.S. passport)
“Kino-compare kay [former] Secretary Yasay, kaibigan ko po sya, di ko alam facts ng case, iba po kami ng kaso. Iba yung pinanganak ka with those citizenships and you're allowed to use that. Iba yung Pilipino ka kumuha ka ng ibang citizenship, tapos babalikan mo Filipino citizenship,” Cayetano told Rappler in a phone interview on March 16.
(They are comparing my case to [former] Secretary Yasay. He is my friend, I dont know the facts of his case but we have different cases. It's different when you were born with those citizenships and you're allowed to use that. It's different when you're a Filipino citizen who relinquished it for a foreign citizenship, and tried to get it back.)
Referring to his case, “By both laws, the kid is a citizen [of both countries]. Pero di kasalanan ng bata yun (It's not the child's fault).”
Cayetano was born in 1970 to a Filipino father, former senator Rene Cayetano, and American mother, Sandra Schramm. This means, he said, he is both a natural-born Filipino citizen and American national by birth.
Yasay, on the other hand, is a natural-born Filipino citizen who became an American in 1986. He renounced his US citizenship in 2016 but still has to formally reacquire his Filipino citizenship.
Running for public office as dual citizen
Cayetano admitted he ran for Taguig city councilor in 1991 and vice mayor in 1995 as a dual citizen but said there is nothing wrong with it.
He said there was no law then requiring a candidate to revoke his or her foreign citizenship. Besides, he insisted that his dual citizenship was not his choice as it was by birth. After all, he is a natural-born Filipino, he said.
Republic Act 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act, which allows Filipinos to hold foreign citizenships, was approved only in 2003. The law also prohibits dual citizens from being appointed or elected to office.
“Walang legal necessity at the time. Walang legal necessity because in fact puwedeng 3, tatay mo Pilipino, nanay mo Haponesa, sa US ka pinanganak. That’s a fact of global community,” Cayetano said.
(There was no legal necessity at the time. There was no legal necessity because in fact you can have 3 citizenships. Your father is a Filipino, your mother is a Japanese, and you were born in the US. That's a fact of global community.)
He said he formally relinquished his US citizenship before he took the Bar exams and ran for Congress in 1998. Cayetano said he did this without "obligation or necessity" to do so.
On the Federal Register of the US Internal Revenue Service, Cayetano’s name appears on the list of people “losing United States citizenship with respect to whom the Secretary received information during the quarter ending March 31, 1999.”
“Even without any legal obligation nor necessity, I gave up my American citizenship because even before I took the Philippine Bar or ran for Congress, I knew I wanted to serve the Filipino people and knew I could only best do that by having no questions to my allegiance,” Cayetano said.
“Dual citizenship is not prohibited but dual allegiance is,” the newly nominated foreign affairs chief said in an earlier Facebook video.
As DFA secretary, Cayetano will be in charge of dealing with other countries and ensuring the Philippines' welfare in treaties, agreements, and discussions. It remains to be seen how he will exercise his duties considering President Rodrigo Duterte's shift away from the US and drift toward China.
Still, Cayetano maintained he loves the US because he has his family there. It's part of his "heritage," he added.
"Di niyo ko masisisi katulad ng marami sa inyo, mahal ko rin ang Amerika. Mahal ko rin American people because that’s part of my heritage dahil nanay ko Amerikano, we have close relationships with our American relatives. But I cannot give my allegiance to both. I chose the Philippines," he earlier told Rappler
(You cannot blame me, just like many of you, I love America. I also love the American people because that's part of my heritage because my mom is an American and we have close relationships with our American relatives. But I cannot give my allegiance to both. I chose the Philippines.)
Cayetano also faced an electoral protest over questions over his citizenship, filed by former Pateros mayor Jose Capco Jr but the Commission on Elections ruled in his favor.
Ironically, his lawyer then was detained Senator Leila de Lima, the fiercest critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Whether or not this will be raised against him remains to be seen. Members of the powerful Commission on Appointments, where Cayetano is currently a member, have already expressed a desire to expedite his confirmation. – Rappler.com