Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. admitted to holding an American passport on Monday, March 6, months after denying ever having one and being questioned by the Commission on Appointments.
“I had an American passport, but that has already been returned together with my naturalization certificate,” Yasay told Karen Davila on ANC’s Headstart.
This admission came after Yasay, in an ambush interview with Rappler on November 28, 2016, denied owning an American passport.
“I did not own a US passport, all right?” he said.
On February 22, Yasay was once again grilled about whether he owned a US passport or not, something which he also denied under oath.
He told the CA: “Your honor, Mr. Chair, the information about allegedly my having an American passport given that particular number came from the publication by-, in media, and even in the internet, by a media outfit known as Rappler, and I do not have any information about the truth of that allegation.”
Upon further questioning by Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez Sato, Yasay said, “What I’m saying is that I do not have any information about that passport at all.”
He also added, “I never held any American passport.”
Rappler talked to a US-based immigration lawyer, Ted Laguatan, who said that “only US citizens can have US passports.” He added, “If a person holds a valid US passport, he is undoubtedly a US citizen.”
Laguatan is a recognized expert-specialist in immigration law by the California State Bar.
As per the US Code, “No passport shall be granted or issued to or verified for any other persons than those owing allegiance, whether citizens or not, to the United States.”
The US State Department also states, “US passports, either in book or card format, are issued only to US citizens or non-citizen nationals.”
Laguatan told Rappler that non-citizen nationals “are rare,” citing that they refer to people who have “ties to two American possessions – Swain Islands and American Samoa.”
According to Senator Panfilo Lacson, Yasay swearing under oath about telling the CA that he did not own an American passport could make him liable for perjury.
“That could be a cause for a complaint for perjury,” Lacson said on February 27.
Rappler noted that Yasay became a US citizen on November 26, 1986, but only renounced his American citizenship on June 28, 2016. He “formally renounced his US citizenship before a consular officer at the US embassy Manila, Philippines,” as indicated in the documents he submitted to Sato on February 22, 2017.
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