Updated 20:07 PM PHT Wed, March 8, 2017
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Commission of Appointments (CA) rejected on Wednesday the nomination of Perfecto Yasay Jr. as Secretary of Foreign Affairs - the first appointee of President Rodrigo Duterte to have received such a decision.
No member objected to the recommendation of the foreign affairs committee.
Yasay faced the Commission on Appointments for the second time Wednesday morning.
The committee and the commission in plenary session decided on his fate based on documents, submitted by Yasay himself, to prove his claim that he was never a U.S. citizen. They also used as basis other documents gathered by the committee members and the affidavit Yasay executed on February 22, the first time he faced the committee.
"I gave him the opportunity …whether he was an American citizen or if ever he became one at any point in his life. He said, 'I never acquired American citizenship,'" Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato said.
Yasay admitted to the committee that he indeed held a U.S. passport in 1986. But he claimed it became null and void after he declared his intent to return to the country.
"I have always admitted that I was granted US citizenship... in November 1986 …became void because of the reasons I have stated in my affidavit," Yasay said.
Sato then referred to a document that stated Yasay renounced his US citizenship only in June last year - a month before President Duterte announced Yasay as his Foreign Affairs secretary.
"You fooled the United States when you applied with a preconceived intention not to reside permanently…were you truthful to your oath…country?" she asked.
Yasay also apologized for "inadvertently" misleading the commission on the status of his citizenship, saying it wasn't his intention give false information.
"Let me quickly apologize for having inadvertently misled the commission on this matter. It has never been my intention to deceive this commission about this citizenship status. Simply put, I did not lose my status as a Filipino," he said.
Sato, a Liberal Party member, also pointed out a remark by Yasay during a radio interview that some members of the commission are challenging his nomination to destabilize the administration.
"It pains me that anything and everything that cannot be answered will be attributed to the destabilization plot. This is unpardonable, Mr. Chairman," she said.
In the heat of discussion, the committee members went into a closed-door session.
Hours after, during the CA plenary session in the afternoon, the committee unanimously decided to reject Yasay's nomination for lying under oath and that he failed to declare his U.S. citizenship in 1986.
What's next for Yasay
CA Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Panfilo Lacson said Yasay is expected to immediately vacate his post.
He added it is up to President Duterte if he wants to appoint Yasay to another position. But Yasay's U.S. citizenship and his non-disclosure may hound him regardless of any position in the government.
Lacson said the rejection of Yasay shows the legislature is not a rubber stamp of the executive.
Another CA committee tackled on Wednesday the nomination of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez. But after more than two hours, the committee suspended proceedings because of a number of opposition. The confirmation hearing will resume tomorrow morning.