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President Duterte was not surprised by the Commission on Appointments’ rejection of the appointment of Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay.
The President admitted he knew beforehand Yasay could no longer be saved in the CA proceeding during a meeting with Senate President Koko Pimentel and House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez in Malacañang last Tuesday.
Duterte’s meeting with the two Congress leaders was held on the eve of CA’s decision to disapprove the ad interim appointment of Yasay amid questions about his US citizenship.
“They also told me that the issue of Yasay is no longer, ‘di na ma – beyond talking. Cannot be saved anymore,” Duterte said during a media interview in Davao City last Thursday night.
Following the CA decision, the President decided to let go of Yasay and appointed Undersecretary Enrique Manalo as acting secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The President, however, has defended Yasay over his alleged American citizenship, saying he was forced to become an asylum-seeker in the US during the Martial Law regime.
“Definitely, I can say that Yasay was there not of his own choice to live in America but rather, they were seeking asylum. They were forced to live in America in order for them not to go to jail,” the President told reporters during an earlier visit to Davao del Sur.
Duterte recalled that Yasay left the country to elude arrest when Martial Law was declared several years ago. Duterte and Yasay were roommates during their college years.
“The next thing I knew, they surfaced in America. Maybe because they were given temporary asylum. And of course a travel document for them to travel, to other parts of the world but they were avoiding Philippines because they were wanted here,” he said. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)