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Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said Senator Cynthia Villar asked Yasay about his oath of allegiance to the US. It was Occidental Mindoro Representative Josephine Ramirez-Sato who asked Yasay about the matter.
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr on Wednesday, February 22, told the Commission on Appointments (CA) that he is ready to provide the powerful body with documents to prove that he never acquired US citizenship.
Yasay made the statement before the CA at his confirmation hearing, where he reiterated that he was never a US citizen despite a document from the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that lists him as among American citizens "who lost citizenship." (READ: U.S. lists Yasay among former American citizens)
"I have not legally acquired US citizenship," Yasay said during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday, responding to questions from CA members.
Yasay said he has documents to prove it, which would dispel "media reports" that say otherwise. He committed to submit his documentary proof to the CA.
He was referring to an exclusive Rappler story quoting 4 independent sources and later, the IRS document stating that Yasay used to be a US citizen. (READ: U.S. citizenship issue hounds Yasay ahead of CA confirmation)
Rappler learned from sources that Yasay used to own a US passport with No. 121190223, which he supposedly used in travels from 2007 to 2009.
Asked about the supposed US passport at the hearing, Yasay said, "To my knowledge, as far as I know, I never held any American passport."
He said people who still have questions about his citizenship despite his repeated pronouncements on it can take the matter to court. "Those who may want to question my Philippine citizenship will have to go to appropriate court proceedings. It's not in this forum that they shall be allowed to establish that."
Occidental Mindoro Representative Josephine Ramirez-Sato asked the Cabinet official about his oath of allegiance to the US, saying that the oath automatically means he was once a US citizen. Yasay contested this and explained that he was only a legal permanent resident of the US.
"Taking an oath of allegiance was a requirement for me, for my legal permanent residence. It does not imply citizenship," he said.
Yasay also explained that he took his second oath of allegiance to the US when he passed the New York bar. He added that he was petitioned by his wife, an American citizen.
At the start of the hearing, Yasay told the CA panel he did not want to discuss the issue of his citizenship as he did not want to subject himself to a "trial by publicity." Senator Panfilo Lacson reminded Yasay that he could not dictate on the panel, and that its members can ask him anything "under the sun."
Senator Panfilo Lacson, who chairs the CA's commitee on foreign affairs, told reporters that the committee has suspended Yasay's confirmation hearing because of "concerns" of CA members, mostly from the House contingent. (READ: CA member 'very troubled' by Yasay statements on South China Sea row)
Lacson said the next hearing has not been scheduled. – Rappler.com