Just my opinion
By Raïssa Robles
The rejection of Perfecto Yasay as foreign secretary could raise questions about President Rodrigo Duterte’s hand in trying to push the appointment to chief envoy of someone who is most probably not a Filipino.
Juliet Labog-Javellana’s report dated February 27, 2017 clearly showed that Yasay only lost his American citizenship last year – on June 28, 2016. The government has not produced any document, and neither has Yasay for that matter, that he has reacquired his Philippine citizenship since then. An appointment to a government position is not proof of reacquisition.
Did he tell his former college roommate Duterte about his citizenship status?
And if he did, what did Duterte say or advise him to do?
An ordinary person may be forgiven for not knowing immigration and citizenship laws, especially those of the United States.
But not Perfecto Yasay.
“He represented Filipinos in deportation and de-naturalization cases in the United States. He also hosted a radio show in New York, giving legal advice to its listeners and served as visiting professor of law at the University of Hawaii’s Richardson School of Law.”
This means, Yasay knew when an American citizen ceased being an American and how a Filipino reacquires Philippine citizenship.
Javellana’s article showed an affidavit that Yasay said he wrote back in 1993 when he swore that he had already renounced his citizenship earlier. The funny thing with that affidavit is that it has no official stamp that it was received by any US government agency.
Yasay said he had sent it by registered mail. Yasay must have known that this registered mail thing wasn’t legally valid because he had followed it up by formally filing a renunciation of his American citizenship before an American consul in Manila. Only last June 2016.
Did he tell Duterte about this? In 1993 – the year Yasay wrote an affidavit about his renunciation – there was no such thing as a dual US-Filipino citizenship, except for those lucky Filipinos born in the US of a Filipino mother or father, or anywhere else of an American father and Filipino mother.
So in 1993, after Yasay wrote that affidavit, did he reacquire his Filipino citizenship?
Yasay will have to show proof that he did because in 1995, President Fidel V. Ramos appointed him associate commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He could not have been appointed to that post if he was not a Filipino citizen.
Then in 1996 Ramos appointed Yasay SEC chair.
Later, Yasay ran for senator in 2001 and 2004. A senator is an elective position reserved for Filipinos ONLY.
On October 20, 2016, Duterte had to reappoint Yasay ad-interim as foreign secretary because Congress took a break. All presidential appointments that have to be confirmed by the bicameral Commission on Appointments lapse whenever Congress takes a break.
On October 22, 2016, someone asked me whether Yasay had a green card or was a dual citizen. I mentioned this in the following post –
Pssst, Duterte supporters, US and EU consular officials can read your FB, Twitter posts dissing their countries
This became a hot topic on Facebook. By then, Malacañang Palace would have been alerted and we could reasonably assume that someone would have done a due diligence on Yasay, or Duterte himself would have asked Yasay about it.
But when Yasay’s appointment lapsed again in January, Duterte again reappointed him – FOR THE THIRD TIME.
The last administration was severely castigated for appointing mga kaklase (classmates) at kabarilan (shooting mates). Should we now suspend such outrage because it’s a different administration?
The oath of every Philippine president includes a solemn promise to “execute its laws”, including its citizenship laws.
Which is why it is important to determine – at what point did President Duterte know or was told that Yasay’s appointment most probably violated Philippine laws? And if Duterte knew this at any time before he reappointed Yasay THRICE, can Duterte be accused of a cover-up?
Which also raises other very interesting questions: If Yasay cannot show proof of reacquisition of Philippine citizenship, can he be deported?
If he shows he did reacquire just before Duterte appointed him, can he be sued for violating passport, election and civil service commission laws? And for masquerading as a citizen all these years?