Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto R. Yasay, who died on Friday, was praised for his integrity while serving the Philippine government.
Current Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. said: “Jun Yasay has donned the garment of immortality. More important, it makes him finally impervious to pain.”
Locsin added: “He recommended me for my UN job. He hurt no one and helped everyone he could.”
Yasay was appointed by President Duterte to the top diplomatic post immediately after the Chief Executive’s inauguration in 2016.
As Duterte’s first foreign affairs chief, Yasay best articulated the new government’s “independent foreign policy,” and has improved the multilateral and bilateral relations of the Philippines with the world’s community of nations.
Yasay has left a legacy of integrity and patriotism in public service, according to Nino Reyes, former executive assistant at the Department of Foreign Affairs.
He was the country’s top diplomat when the country was awarded the Hague’s Arbitral Tribunal decision, a historic one, declaring the Philippines as having sovereign rights over the South China Sea, rejecting the claim of the People’s Republic of China.
Yasay resolutely defended the country’s victory over the dispute on sovereign rights, and was cited by former American State Secretry John Kerry on “how he properly paced himself in upholding the country’s quasi-judicial triumph,” as when China bulked over the major decision, which had vital implications on jurisprudence on the law of the sea.
At the onset of the Duterte Presidency, Secretary Yasay was on the front pages of our broadsheets and headlines of broadcast new, when he spoke before the august hall of the United Nations General Assembly in October 2016, resonantly declaring that the Philippines has been adhering to the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, answering charges of extra judicial killings by the government.
Before his passing, Secretary Yasay was chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Philippine Christian University. Early on, he was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Central Philippine University where he finished his AB in Political Science.
Yasay earned his law degree from the University of the Philippines, and passed the Bar Examinations the next year. At the declaration of Martial Law, Yasay went on 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 while he was on exile, and set up his temporary law office in Manhattan, New York.
“Jun Yasay’s patriotism is renowned among many of his friends and associates,” said Cecile Yasay, “as he continued the struggle for the return of freedom and democracy in Philippines.” Cecile Joaquin Yasay belongs to the illustrious Joaquin clan. Her dad is Enrique “Ike” Joaquin, who was trusted by former President Corazon Aquino with sensitive tasks during her administration. Cecile’s uncle is the famous National Artist Nick Joaquin.
After the EDSA People Power Revolution, Yasay returned to his homeland to help rebuild the countlry. During the term of President Fidel V. Ramos, he was appointed Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), where he initiated reforms in the two stock exchanges, and underscored the developmental role of the SEC in nurturing the Philippine capital market.
Early on, the younger Yasay had manifested his leadership in youth organizations. In 1969, he was the first youthful official of the World Alliance of YMCAs, elected by the entire assembly of the World Council of YMCAs held in Nottingham, England. On that same year, there were two more “firsts” — the first man landed on the moon, and the first Filipina was named Miss Universe.
“Jun Yasay’s articulateness, amiable character that had charmed other foreign ministers, and love for country will be missed,” a friend said.
Yasay left behind his wife Cecile Joaquin Yasay, former executive director of the Commission on Population, and his children Oliver, Raveena, and Stephanie.
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