Philippine basketball

Duterte may appoint Honasan DICT chief as early as Nov 12

Camille Elemia
The decision was made during a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on October 29, says Senate President Vicente Sotto III

JOINING THE DUTERTE CABINET SOON. President Rodrigo Duterte is set to appoint Senator Gregorio Honasan II as the new DICT secretary next week. Malacañang file photo

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to appoint Senator Gregorio Honasan II as the new secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) when sessions resume on Monday, November 12.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III announced this on Wednesday, November 7, and said the decision was reached during an October 29 meeting with Duterte. Those present were Duterte’s close aide Bong Go, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, and Senators Panfilo Lacson, Honasan, and Sotto.

Sotto said Duterte had long offered the post to Honasan but “it was put off because we are thinking that we need [him] in the Senate.”

Honasan, however, would be able to retain his post as senator pending confirmation by the Commission on Appointments.

“Last Octover 29 we had a meeting with the President, it was discussed. Napag-usapan yun na kung puwede November 12 na si Greg…. Para di ad interim para nomination; in other words, pag na confirm siya at nag oath siya saka na lang siya mag-resign [as senator],” Sotto said at the Kapihan Sa Manila Bay forum in Manila.

(It was discussed if Greg could start on November 12 so it would be a nomination and not an ad interim appointment. He can only resign once he’s confirmed and has taken oath.)

“When we resume next week he would still be in the Senate,” he added.

Why can Honasan retain his post? There are two kinds of appointments: regular appointments or those  done while Congress is in session and ad interim appointment or those made when Congress is on recess.

In the latter, the appointee may immediately assume the role, and confirmed later on.

But in the case of Honasan, it would be a nomination. Sotto said Honasan would follow a regular appointment so he would still be able to perform his duties as a senator pending confirmation.

Sotto said the CA would likely confirm Honasan before Congress goes on Christmas break. Traditionally and as “courtesy,” Sotto said CA members are lenient towards appointees who are former members of the Senate.

“He would be an asset in the DICT kasi ang malaking factor doon ang (because a big factor there is) national security, even the entry of third telco,” Sotto said.

From 24 down to 21 senators: With the impending departure of Honasan, the number of active senators would be down to 21 by yearend. Detained Senator Leila de Lima could not participate in voting while former senator Alan Peter Cayetano left the chamber in 2017 to head the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Sotto downplayed this setup, saying this would be the case only until June 2019, when 12 newly elected senators join them.

Why not wait for term to be over? Sotto said there might be “more complications” when an acting head continues to head the DICT.

Honasan’s entry as DICT chief would mean another former military man in the Duterte administration. Duterte had earlier justified the “militarization” of his administration, saying he preferred former soldiers as they followed orders and hardly debated with him.

Asked if Honasan, a former soldier, would just say yes to his superiors, Sotto only said: “May ganoong mentality talaga ang pananaw ‘pag (There really is such mentality when it comes to) military man. They follow orders then later they can ask questions.”

Honasan is a 4-term senator who graduated from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in 1971.  (READ: 10 things to know about Gringo Honasan)

Along with his PMA classmates, he later set up the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) that recruited soldiers to rebel against the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. 

Honasan, however, also led several failed coup attempts against then president Corazon “Cory” Aquino.

In 2006, Honasan went into hiding after he was charged for rebellion for supposedly leading the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2006 foiled coup attempt against the Arroyo administration. The charges against him  were dismissed in 2007, just a few months after he won as senator in the May poll. –

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email