TIMELINE: When Foreign Secretary Yasay was a foreigner

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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TIMELINE: When Foreign Secretary Yasay was a foreigner
From becoming a foreigner after Ferdinand Marcos is toppled, Perfecto Yasay Jr is appointed foreign secretary under President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – To escape the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, lawyer Perfecto Yasay Jr fled the Philippines to seek refuge in the United States, where he eventually became a citizen.

Nearly 4 decades later, Yasay is back in the Philippines as foreign secretary of President Rodrigo Duterte. 

What happened in between?

Rappler pieces together the following timeline based on Yasay’s testimony before the Commission on Appointments (CA), documents released by the Inquirer, those obtained by Occidental Mindoro Representative Josephine Ramirez Sato from Yasay himself, and information previously published by Rappler.

Yasay is now facing intense public scrutiny as he denies ever being a US citizen when evidence shows otherwise. (READ: On U.S. citizenship: Did Yasay commit perjury?)


February – Yasay immigrated to the US under Alien Registration No. A36118516 “to flee the repressive regime of Marcos.” 


February – Yasay’s US citizenship application remained pending while Marcos was ousted on February 25, 1986, by the EDSA People Power Revolution 

March 3 – Yasay visited the Philippines “to witness the developments” after the toppling of Marcos, “with the end view of making a decision on whether or not to return and reestablish” himself in the Philippines. Upon his return to the US, Yasay decided to return to the Philippines for good.

November 24 – Yasay took his oath as a US citizen, even as he claimed to have “finalized” plans to return to the Philippines and “abandon” his residency in the US. Part of the oath states, “I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.”

November 26 – Yasay was “granted United States citizenship by the US District Court, District of New Jersey, under Petition No. 12831295.” This item is indicated in the documents submitted by Yasay to Sato on February 22, 2017.


January 8 – Yasay “abandoned” US residency and returned to the Philippines “to establish permanent residence there.”


February 23 – Yasay executed an affidavit saying that he abandoned his residency in 1987, making him “ineligible” for, and “disqualified” from, having US citizenship. He told the CA on February 22, 2017, that this “nullified” his oath of allegiance to the US, which means he “did not acquire legal status as US citizen.”

March – Yasay became associate commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

1995 to 2000 – Yasay chaired the SEC, eventually testifying at the impeachment trial of then president Joseph Estrada. 

2001 – Yasay ran for senator and lost.

2007 to 2009 – Yasay used his American passport with No. 121190223, according to two independent sources who provided this information to Rappler


November 30 – The Commission on Elections received Yasay’s certificate of candidacy (COC) for vice president, where he stated under oath that he was “not a permanent resident of, or immigrant to, a foreign country.”

2010 – Yasay ran for vice president as running mate of Brother Eduardo “Eddie” Villanueva, and lost again.


May 16  President Rodrigo Duterte announced he offered Yasay to serve as his acting foreign affairs secretary for a year. 

May 18 – Yasay accepted the offer.

June 28 – Yasay “formally renounced his US citizenship before a consular officer at the US embassy Manila, Philippines.” This item was also indicated in the documents submitted by Yasay to Sato on February 22, 2017.

June 30 – Yasay assumed office as Duterte’s secretary of foreign affairs.

November 29 – Rappler asked Yasay if he was ever a US citizen. He answered, “I am a Filipino, I have always been a Filipino, and I have never been a US citizen. I continue to be a Filipino, so that’s the end of the story.” Rappler also asked him if he ever owned a US passport. He responded, “I did not own a US passport, all right?”


February 9 – The US included the name “Perfecto Rivas Yasay Jr” in its list of American citizens “who lost citizenship.” The list contains the names “of each individual losing United States citizenship” based on information received as of December 31, 2016, according to the US Internal Revenue Service. It also includes “long-term residents” of the US, who “are treated as if they were citizens of the United States who lost citizenship.”

February 22 – Yasay appeared before the CA and claimed that he “never legally acquired US citizenship.” Instead of flatly denying owning a US passport, Yasay said he does “not have any information about that passport at all,” based on his “personal knowledge.”

Yasay is set to face the CA again in the coming days, as CA foreign affairs committee chairman Senator Panfilo Lacson said Yasay could be liable for perjury because he claimed he was never a US citizen. – Rappler.com

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story said Rappler asked Yasay about his citizenship on November 28, 2016. We regret this error. We have corrected this to say we interviewed him on November 29, 2016.

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior multimedia reporter covering religion for Rappler. He also teaches journalism at the University of Santo Tomas. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.