MANILA – Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Saturday mourned the passing of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. who died of complications arising from cancer.

“It is with sadness that I share in the grief of the family of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr., of the latter’s passing even as my family conveys its condolences and sympathies to his loved ones, relatives and friends,” Panelo said in a statement.

Yasay died of pneumonia due to a complication from cancer recurrence on Friday morning, his wife, Cecile, announced.

Yasay was the country’s first Foreign Affairs chief under President Rodrigo Duterte’s leadership.

He served as the top diplomat in the Philippines from June 2016 to March 2017. His ad interim appointment was rejected by the Commission on Appointments due to citizenship issues.

Panelo paid tribute to Yasay, describing his former colleague as “a thoughtful diplomat who articulated the country’s independent foreign policy.”

“He (Yasay) asserted the country’s sovereignty when it is intruded upon while maintaining the niceties of the art of diplomacy,” he said.

Panelo also recalled that Yasay, a former classmate at the College of Law of the University of the Philippines, was a “conscientious student always poring his law books at the library.”

Yasay, as a government official, served the country “well,” Panelo added.

“We join his family and friends in praying for the eternal repose of his soul as well as the shining of perpetual light on him, as he travels to the great beyond. May he rest in happiness and in peace,” he said. (ia/PNA)

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