DICT no more? Sotto hints Honasan may be appointed to another agency

Camille Elemia
DICT no more? Sotto hints Honasan may be appointed to another agency
Senator Gringo Honasan's appointment as DICT Secretary faces two legal obstacles

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Gregorio Honasan II might be nominated to another post.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III raised this possibility on Thursday, January 10, when asked about his friend’s qualifications to head the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

Republic Act 10844, or the DICT law, states that no person may be appointed DICT secretary unless they have “at least 7 years of competence and expertise in any of the following: information and communications technology, information technology service management, information security management, cyber security, data privacy. e-Commerce, or human capital development in the ICT sector.”

Sotto insisted Honasan is qualified for the post, saying the law does not limit the criteria to those with a telecommunications background.

“Pinag-usapan namin nung isang araw yan, pasok na pasok. Si Senator Lacson mismo nag-point out, yung background nya on technicalities ng DICT. Ang akala kasi ng karamihan masyadong tight or focus dun sa sinasabi it’s not that dapat may 7 years background sa telecommunications, not exactly that. Eh may 10 years background [sya] sa intelligence communication… He will more than suffice as far as his qualifications are concerned,” Sotto said in a press conference.

(We talked about it last night, he fulfills the requirements. Senator Lacson himself pointed out Senator Honasan’s background on the technicalities needed for the DICT. Many people think that the provisions of the DICT law are focused on the 7 years background on telecommunications. But it’s not exactly that. He has 10 years background on intelligence communication. He will more than suffice as far as his qualifications are concerned.)

But Honasan’s work in intelligence communication in the military was more than 3 decades ago, before he helped form a military rebel movement that led a revolt against dictator Ferdinand Marcos in February 1986, which led to Marcos’ ouster.

Honasan was later dismissed from the service after leading various coups against the Cory Aquino administration.

There is also a bigger constitutional issue: Article 6, Section 13 of the 1987 Constitution prohibits a senator or congressman from being appointed “to any office which may have been created… during the term for which he was elected.”

The DICT law was signed on May 23, 2016, when Honasan was a sitting senator of the 16th Congress.

In response, Sotto said: “Sabihin nila sa CA (They should tell it to the Commission on Appointments) when we hear his nomination.”

Duterte’s choice

President Rodrigo Duterte nominated Honasan as DICT secretary on November 20. He is to replace DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr.

Sotto earlier said the CA would confirm Honasan before 2018 ends. This did not happen, making Honasan’s status “bypassed.”

Sana yun [ang] plano kaso (That was the plan but) some things turned up,” the Senate leader said.

Sotto then hinted that Honasan might be appointed to another post but refused to provide details.

“The President has to nominate him again because he was bypassed [by the CA]. He has to be nominated again, malay mo ma-nominate siya sa ibang post (Who knows he may be nominated to another post?) Anything is possible,” a smiling Sotto said.

Asked further, a joking Sotto said: “Ewan ko, tanungin nyo si (I don’t know, ask) Senator Lacson… I refuse to answer.”

If Honasan’s DICT appointment still pushes through, he would bear the responsibility of fulfilling Duterte’s promise of faster and more reliable internet connection.

Honasan will be in charge of shepherding the process of setting up the country’s third telco and responding to concerns of groups that the selection process was unfair and skewed in favor of Dennis Uy, a Davao City businessman close to Duterte. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a former multimedia reporter for Rappler. She covered media and disinformation, the Senate, the Office of the President, and politics.