Philippine lawmakers yesterday rejected Perfecto Yasay’s appointment as secretary of foreign affairs, eight months after he was appointed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, citing “compelling issues” surrounding his qualifications.
Yasay was removed from the post after a unanimous vote by a plenary session of the Philippine Congress, which came hours after a confirmation hearing in which he was grilled about his citizenship at the time he took the job.
The full details of what was behind the 15-member panel’s decision to effectively sack Yasay were not immediately clear. Yasay is a member of Duterte’s inner circle.
Numerous allegations have been made against Yasay, a US-educated lawyer, including that he illegally held US citizenship when he was appointed.
Lawmakers in his earlier hearing had pointed to inconsistencies in statements he made before the congressional committee and in media interviews this week about whether he had been a US citizen, had held a US passport and the status of applications he had previously made to be naturalized.
Yasay was not present for the decision and an aide who answered his cellphone said there would be no immediate statement from the former secretary.
Philippine Senator Panfilo Lacson said the Philippine Commission on Appointments was unhappy with Yasay’s conflicting comments under oath and their decision was final.
“We all know how close attorney Yasay is to the president. It was the view ... that he was not telling the truth, he was not forthright in the question-and-answer portion of the hearings,” Lacson told reporters.
Philippine Cabinet ministers must undergo a confirmation hearing, but these often take place long after they begin work.
Lacson said the decision proved that the commission was not just a rubber stamp.
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