Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. introduces President Rodrigo Duterte at the Reunion of the Knights of Galahad on February 19, 2017 at the President’s Hall in Malacañan Palace. ACE MORANDANTE/Presidential Photo


By Melo M. Acuña

Former foreign secretary Perfecto R. Yasay, Jr. passed away at 7:27 a.m. today due to pneumonia triggered by the recurrence of cancer. He was 73.

On her Facebook account, Cecile Joaquin Yasay said her husband had remission from cancer 10 years ago but the ailment recurred.

Yasay was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to head the Department of Foreign Affairs after the latter’s inauguration in 2016. The two shared a room at the YMCA dormitory when they were students.

“Mr. Yasay has left a legacy of integrity and patriotism in public service,” said Nino Reyes, former executive assistant at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Yasay was the secretary of foreign affairs when the Philippines won an international arbitral tribunal decision upholding the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the South China Sea and rejecting the historical claims of the People’s Republic of China.

He earned his law degree from the University of the Philippines and passed the Bar examination a year after his graduation. When Martial Law was declared, he went in exile to the United States and joined the Movement for Free Philippines of then senators Jovito Salonga and Raul Manglapus and former National Press Club President Eddie B. Monteclaro.

He passed the New York State Bar and set up his temporary law office in Manhattan, New York.

He was appointed by President Fidel V. Ramos as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) where he instituted reforms in the two stock exchanges and underscored the developmental role of the SEC in the Philippine capital market.

Yasay testified in the impeachment trial of President Joseph Estrada, helping depose the ex-movie icon. He said Estrada called him up over a stock manipulation controversy being probed by regulators.

He ran for vice president in 2010 under Bangon Pilipinas presidential bet Eduardo Villanueva, but lost to Jejomar Binay.

He left behind his wife Cecile Joaquin Yasay, former executive eirector of the Commission on Population and his children Oliver, Raveena, Stephanie and stepsons Nino and Richie Reyes.