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After flip-flop on U.S. passport, Yasay says he ‘never lied’ before CA

Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr admits having a naturalization certificate but insists he was never a US citizen

‘NO LIES.’ Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr claims he did not lie under oath before the Commission on Appointments despite flip-flopping on his ownership of a US passport. Photo by Camille Elemia/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr is insisting that he “did not lie” before the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) when he told its members, under oath, that he never owned a US passport.

Yasay insisted on this after CA members said his confirmation is likely to be rejected.

“I did not lie. There was no basis for me to lie. All supporting documents that I submitted [to the CA] are not only consistent with what I said. What I said are consistent with these documents,” Yasay told reporters on Tuesday, March 7.

"I just would like to assure everyone I have never lied in my testimony. I will continue and reiterate the same statement that I have made. I would hope everyone would be fair and not accusing me of lying because I never lied,” he added.

A day before his confirmation hearing, Yasay was at the Senate to visit CA members, including Senator Loren Legarda. He claimed the meeting was only about “climate change.”

On Monday, March 6 – after months of repeatedly denying ever owning one – Yasay admitted in an interview with ANC that he indeed owned a US passport.

"I had an American passport, but that has already been returned together with my naturalization certificate," Yasay said.

This is the exact opposite of what he said under oath on February 22, when the CA grilled him about his citizenship.

Now, Yasay said he was only referring to the passport indicated in a newspaper report. The transcript, however, showed otherwise:

SATO: So just for the record, Mr Speaker, ah, Mr Secretary, so this passport number (121190223) was never your passport as an American citizen?

YASAY: Yes, your honor. All I’m say – what I’m saying is that I do not have any information about that passport at all.

SATO: You don’t have any information, so that means you never held that passport?

YASAY: Yes, as far as I know, personal knowledge, I never held any American passport.

Yasay also denied ever owning a US passport to Rappler on November 22.

“I did not own a US passport, all right? I really – you know, I know you’re from Rappler, and I would like to say this about what you’ve always been trying to do. But I’m putting an end to these speculations and I hope you will respect that. Thank you,” Yasay said in November 2016.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, CA chairman, raised questions on Yasay’s contradicting claims, saying his "words do not match documents."

"At saka (And) from what I hear sa interview, he disqualified himself. Paano nangyari ‘yun (How did that happen)? How could you disqualify yourself from something you applied for? ‘Di ko maintindihan (I can’t understand it). So let’s ask him for his theory," Pimentel told reporters on Tuesday, March 7.

Yasay admits naturalization

Yasay admitted he took oath and became a naturalized US citizen in 1986.

“Oh yeah, I did not only have a US passport, I had a naturalization certificate which I all returned to the authorities,” Yasay said.

But during his confirmation hearing, he repeatedly denied that he became an American citizen and that he had a US passport.

“When I had applied for naturalization, at that time my application for naturalization was given due course….I was not qualified because at that time I already had plans to abandon my permanent residency in the US to return to the Philippines. This was in November 1986,” Yasay said during the CA hearing.

He also earlier told Rappler: "I am a Filipino and I have always been a Filipino. I have never been a US citizen."

Yasay said he unilaterally renounced his US citizenship through a letter to the US government in 1993, just a month before he was appointed associate commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Yasay told the CA the US government “accepted” his affidavit but gave no proof.

He only formally renounced his US citizenship on June 28, 2016 – two days before he was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as the country’s top diplomat. The secretary claimed he did this just to bolster his earlier renunciation in 1993. – Rappler.com