The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday suspended the confirmation hearing of Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. due to pending concerns of some congressmen. “May mga concerns pa ang House eh (the House still has concerns),” Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chair of the CA committee, told reporters in an interview.
Lacson said the CA will resume Yasay’s confirmation next week.
During Yasay’s confirmation, several CA members questioned him about reports on his US citizenship. Yasay said that although he applied for a US citizenship, his application was denied.
He admitted that he became a permanent legal resident in the US but returned to the Philippines after the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution. He was petitioned by his wife, who is a US citizen.
The Secretary was also questioned on the government stand on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), to which he vowed to continue to assure that if there was an encroachment on Philippine territorial sovereignty, the government will “assert” its claim.
He, however, said that he was not very optimistic that the sea dispute will be resolved within the term of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte or even within his lifetime.
“Personally, I would hope, but on the basis of the stance, on the basis of pronouncement and on the basis of what I seen, the strategic objection of China, we may not be able to achieve it,” Yasay said.
“I hope that we would, we can never project the future. But now, on the basis of what I know, I am not as optimistic even as I continue to be hopeful that this will be resolved within the term of Pres. Dutete or even within my lifetime,” he added.
Yasay, meanwhile, said the government will remain obligated to carry out an independent foreign policy making sure that it is anchored upon the paramount national interest of the country.
He said that the government will instead pursue the other aspects to maximize mutual benefits of both countries.
Also brought up during Yasay’s confirmation was the ability of the government to save overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from the death row in other countries despite desire of Pres. Duterte to revive capital punishment in the Philippines.
Yasay pointed out that in Southeast Asia, all countries except the Philippines and Cambodia, continue to impose death penalty.
He also said that a number of signatories of the human rights council still impose the capital punishment in their countries.