MANILA (Updated) -- The Commission on Appointments (CA) rejected Wednesday the appointment of Perfecto Yasay as Foreign Affairs secretary.
The 15-member CA unanimously voted to reject Yasay's appointment for failure to answer questions over his supposed United States citizenship.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, Senate foreign affairs committee chair, said he cannot tolerate the official appointment of Yasay after the latter admitted obtaining American citizenship last November 26, 1986, which he earlier denied under oath.
The CA ordered Yasay to immediately vacate his post as he is no longer competent to perform duties as the head of DFA.
Senator Francis Pangilinan earlier advised Yasay to step down as Foreign Affairs secretary in order to save the Duterte administration from further embarrassment.
Yasay, the first Cabinet member of the Duterte administration to be rejected by the CA, apologized to the panel for issuing a different statement and for not immediately admitting that he used to hold a US passport and was naturalized as a US citizen.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo was not happy with the development on Yasay's confirmation hearing.
"I understand Secretary Yasay's nomination has been rejected by the Commission on Appointments. I'm unhappy to hear about that, personally because he's a personal friend, being a classmate in the UP College of Law," Panelo said.
"Second, he is a good secretary of Foreign Affairs. But if that is the decision of the Commission on Appointments, we cannot do anything about it," he added.
Panelo was confident that Yasay's failure to hurdle CA will not affect the DFA.
Panelo said Yasay could be replaced by incumbent Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.
Rules, however, prohibit losing candidates like Cayetano, who ran in the 2016 vice presidential race, from taking government posts until a year after elections.
Panelo said an officer-in-charge may take over the DFA while Duterte is still deciding who will be the new head of the agency. (SunStar Philippines)