SENATOR Alan Peter Cayetano is reportedly not going to replace Perfecto Yasay Jr. as the new Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) secretary.
President Rodrigo Duterte previously offered the DFA chief post to Cayetano, who was also his running mate in the national election last May.
He appointed Foreign Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo as the acting foreign secretary after the Commission on Appointments’ (CA) rejected Yasay’s nomination for the post.
When asked about the foreign secretary post, the president said on Monday, March 13 that the issue has yet to be discussed.
“Nothing, we haven’t talked about it. But, you know, Senator Cayetano is a very brilliant man. He would be needed by the Senate. Don’t discount him,” Duterte told reporters in mixed Filipino.
While a final decision about the role has yet to be made, Duterte noted that the DFA can be headed by an acting secretary in the meantime. Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella echoed that, saying Manalo will continue to hold the position.
Sought for comments, Cayetano remarked on Tuesday, March 15 that he is willing to wait for Duterte’s final decision.
“The preference of the president during the campaign was for me to join the Cabinet. Now the need changes, we have bills that we want to be passed in the Senate, so I’m helping out,” Cayetano said.
Reiterating that the call is up to Duterte, the senator added: “So I told him, ‘Boss, don’t decide yet. Later on, sometime in April and May, whatever your needs will be at that time, I’ll follow you.’ I’m dedicated to helping ensure the success of the administration.”
“It’s a few months away. Duterte’s often asked me, but I toss the question back to him. I tell him, ‘Don’t give me a choice. Be the one to tell me where I can help,’” Cayetano said.
On March 8, the CA foreign affairs committee unanimously voted to reject Yasay’s ad interim appointment for “not telling the truth” and for “not being forthright in the question and answer portion of the two hearings.”
During the first confirmation hearing on February 22, Yasay denied that he became a U.S. citizen when asked by Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato about his citizenship.
Under oath, Yasay also claimed that he “never held any American passport,” saying that the U.S. government had rendered him “not qualified to become a U.S. citizen” in January 1987.
But at the second hearing, Yasay admitted that he became a U.S. citizen in 1986. He explained that he said his U.S. citizenship was null and void because the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act “provides that anyone who has preconceived intent to abandon his residency at the time of application is disqualified to that grant.”