Senators expect ‘silent workhorse’ Honasan to do well in DICT

Camille Elemia
Senators expect ‘silent workhorse’ Honasan to do well in DICT

Malacañan Photo

Senators say the immediate challenge of Senator Gregorio Honasan II as DICT chief is to assure Filipinos that the third telco would not jeopardize national security

MANILA, Philippines – Senators on Friday, November 9, expressed support for the appointment of their colleague Gregorio Honasan II to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

Senate President Vicente Sotto II expressed confidence that Honasan would be valuable to the DICT, the agency tasked to fix the country’s poor telecommunications system.

“Although we will miss him in the Senate, I know he will be of great value to the executive department,” said Sotto, a friend of Honasan.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, ans Senators Grace Poe, Panfilo Lacson, and Joel Villanueva all believe Honasan could do the job.

“Greg is a silent workhorse in a chamber of showhorses. He has always been after good policies not after good publicity…. Greg can do it,” said Recto, principal of the law creating the DICT.

Poe said she expected Honasan to do well in the DICT.

“I know Senator Honasan will be able to continue this vital work. We need someone like Senator Honasan at the helm of the DICT who is dedicated and efficient, and who will insure that our country will be able to modernize and make technological advances that can support growth and development,” she said.

Lacson, for his part, said:  “The DICT may be a young and small department in terms of personnel and budget but its role in national security and economic growth cannot be disregarded. I have no doubt that he has it in his consciousness when he takes over his job,” 

Villanueva said the DICT “needs a leader like Senator Greg who has consistently shown integrity and dedication to public service.”

Senators Francis Escudero and Francis Pangilinan also congratulated their colleague and wished him well on his new assignment.

Immediate challenge: 3rd telco

Honasan accepted the position days after the National Telecommunications Commission granted the provisional 3rd telco slot to Mislatel Consortium led by Davao businessman Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corporation and China Telecom.

Honasan’s “immediate challenge” now is to guarantee Filipinos that the third telecommunication company would not jeopardize national security, senators said.

“The immediate challenge before him is to assure the public, the Senate included, that the third telco will not compromise national security and will be able to meet its rollout schedule and service deliverables on time,” Recto said.

“Many of the problems we confront today, from traffic to illiteracy to health care, have ICT solutions which can ease the pain they cause or make them totally go away. Another area of concern is our nation’s defense against cyber attacks because an enemy with a missile is as dangerous as one with malware,” he added.

Poe said Honasan’s role is critical. “His appointment can help allay fears surrounding national security as I know him to be a cautious and patriotic guy who would put the country above everything else,” she said.

With the country having the slowest yet most expensive internet, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said it is now time to end the duopoly in the telco industry.

“It’s time to crack the whip on the abuses by the telecom duopoly. Senator Honasan is known as a passionate public servant and a disiplinarian. I am very confident that with his long experience in government, he will be able to tear down the regulatory capture in DICT and improve the quality and service of the telecom operators in our country,” Gatchalian said.

Duterte is set to appoint Honasan next week or as early as Monday, November 12, upon resumption of session. Since it would be a regular appointment or an appointment done while Congress was in session, Honasan would still be able to retain his post as senator pending confirmation by the Commission on Appointments by yearend. –

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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