MANILA, Philippines – Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II is the most senior and experienced vice presidential candidate.
At 67, he spent 17 years as a soldier, 7 years as a rebel, and 17 years as a lawmaker. A reluctant candidate, the running mate of opposition leader Vice President Jejomar Binay was known as a daring coup plotter who challenged 3 presidents, and reinvented himself as a legislator. (READ: 9 things to know about Gringo Honasan)
As part of Rappler’s #PHvote “The Leader I Want” series, we look at Honasan’s stand on key issues that the next vice president will have to address: corruption, social inequality, climate change and disasters, foreign policy, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and the peace process.
Is the former rebel leader fit to occupy the country’s second highest position? Tell us in the comments section below or tweet using #TheLeaderIWant why or why not Gringo Honasan should be the next leader of the country.
Honasan made a name for himself as a charismatic leader of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) that opposed corruption and cronyism in the military during the late President Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship.
Since then, he led and was suspected of plotting coup attempts against former presidents Corazon Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo due to corruption in government.
In a twist of fate, Honasan is now accused of corruption in the pork barrel scam. He faces a graft complaint before the Ombudsman for allegedly pocketing P1.75 million ($37,666) in development funds for the poor through bogus non-governmental organizations.
His opposition allies – Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr – were jailed over the issue.
Here is his stand on corruption:
- Honasan was the sponsor of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill in the 15th Congress. He repeatedly calls for the passage of the transparency measure to ensure public access to government records and data.
- Honasan is also the co-author of the Act to Further Strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering Law.
- At the height of the pork barrel scam, Honasan supported the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund, but said it should not be revived under a different name or process. He pushed for a shift from the lump sum to a line item budgeting system.
- In the National Recovery Program (NRP) he released in 2003, Honasan said all commissioners, deputy commissioners, and district collectors of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) must be relieved, and replaced through meritocracy to give “a fresh start” to the corruption-prone agencies.
- He suggested that all revenue officers and collectors who reach targets be given incentives but those who fail to reach targets be relieved. He wants the BOC and BIR processes to be computerized.
- Honasan called for the restructuring of Commission on Audit procedures, with post-audit done in regional offices to insulate auditors from external pressures.
- Honasan said the military must institute transparency in the procurement process to ensure that funds are used for modernization. He supports the allocation of a bigger budget to the modernization of the armed forces.
The vice president of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) identified poverty as the biggest threat to peace and order in the Philippines.
He said leaders should aim to improve the lives of the next generation to make Filipinos globally competitive.
Here are his initiatives and proposals on social inequality:
- Honasan said education is the response to many problems of the Philippines. He supported the K to 12 program but believes the government must intervene to address malnutrition in children ages 0 to 6.
- He filed a bill to provide free food for children in public schools and day care centers from government-purchased products of farmers. The measure aims to address malnutrition, to educate students, and to alleviate poverty.
- The chairman of the Senate agrarian reform committee, Honasan sponsored the bill authorizing the Department of Agrarian Reform to continue land acquisition and distribution under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) until 2016. He is also the author of the Act Strengthening Further the CARP.
- Honasan wants to generate rural employment through labor-intensive infrastructure projects like farm-to-market roads, and irrigation facilities.
- To boost agriculture, Honasan wants the immediate implementation of the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act, the release of the coco levy funds, the break-up of the rice cartel, and the crackdown on the smuggling of agricultural products.
- Honasan voted against the Reproductive Health (RH) law, saying population density is not the cause of poverty. He supports any move to repeal the law.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND DISASTERS
The senator from the disaster-prone Bicol region said that the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) made strides in improving disaster response. Yet he said the agency must improve its coordinating mechanisms.
Here are his proposals on climate change and disasters:
- Honasan has been pushing for a land use plan since 1996. He is the author of a bill instituting a national land use policy. He argues that a centralized zoning plan will identify areas for commercial, residential or recreational use, and those prone to calamities. The plan will help government move people in high-risk zones. He laments that local politicians, and real estate developers oppose the much-delayed policy.
- Honasan is the author of several environmental laws including the Clean Air Act, the Solid Waste Management Act, and the Climate Change Act.
- The senator is also the co-author of the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, which created the NDRRMC to institutionalize measures for reducing disaster risks, and to build the resilience of communities.
As a former soldier, Honasan considers national security and foreign policy as among his areas of expertise.
He has pushed for the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines even during the Arroyo administration as the country faces “border problems” with China and Malaysia.
Here is where Honasan stands on foreign policy issues:
- Honasan supports the government approach of dealing with China on the maritime dispute over the South China Sea on a multilateral basis. He backed the decision to bring the row to international arbitration.
- The senator said the Philippines must evaluate its ties with allies and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to ensure they will aid the Philippines in diplomacy and a possible confrontation with China.
- Honasan said the Philippines must approach foreign policy through negotiations, instead of “squabbling” with China in the media.
- On the Philippines’ claim over Sabah, Honasan said this, too, must become a multilateral issue involving the United Nations, ASEAN, and international groups.
- At the height of the Sabah standoff in 2013, he said the Philippines must not take “a soft stance” on Malaysia, and allow its soldiers and policemen to protect Filipino citizens in Sabah.
The 4-term senator said the government must create more jobs in the Philippines to encourage its citizens to stay, but at the same time protect distressed OFWs in times of crises.
Here are his ideas on OFWs:
- Honasan was among the senators who signed a resolution calling on the Manila International Airport Authority to recall its order integrating the terminal fee into the cost of a plane ticket until it comes up with a system automatically exempting OFWs.
- During the 2003 Iraq war, Honasan urged the Arroyo government to submit a comprehensive emergency budget for contingency measures for OFWs caught in the conflict.
- The senator said the government must prepare to rent planes and boats, and install emergency communication for OFWs in the Middle East. He said the government must be ready for emergencies instead of merely reacting to turmoil abroad.
PEACE PROCESS, AUTONOMY AND LIVELIHOOD FOR MINDANAO
Honasan was a soldier whose battles in Lebak, Jolo and Zamboanga was recognized through 3 Gold Cross Medals from former President Aquino.
Having fought in Mindanao as a young lieutenant, the senator said he supports the peace process, even after the January 25 Mamasapano tragedy that killed 67 Filipinos. Honasan participated in the Senate hearings into the issue.
“It’s important that we stay the course on the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. We cannot inflict [a halt to] the peace process. The long-term cost might be too high to bear,” he said.
Here is his position on the peace process:
- Honasan was a co-author of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which aims to create an expanded region in Muslim Mindanao with greater powers and autonomy.
- The senator though signed the committee report of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago questioning the constitutionality of the draft BBL. The report said the bill must be “substantially revised” if it is to withstand legal scrutiny of the Supreme Court.
- In the Senate hearings on the Mamasapano incident, Honasan said the military and the police must help bring justice to the “mutilated” Special Action Force troopers who died in the encounter with Moro rebels. – Rappler.com
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