MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – A former mutineer and a hero of the EDSA People Power Revolution officially joins President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet.
Malacañang released the appointment paper of Senator Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan II as Information and Communications Technology Secretary on Thursday, November 22, several days after Duterte signed it on Monday, November 19.
Honasan takes the helm of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) from acting secretary Eliseo Rio Jr, who held the post for 6 months.
LOOK: Senator Gringo Honasan officially appointed DICT secretary. Appointment paper released today. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/GsMZr1xfz7 — Pia Ranada (@piaranada) November 22, 2018
Yet Honasan, a longtime senator and former soldier, must prove he has fulfilled a requirement for DICT secretary as stated in Republic Act No 10844, the law which created the DICT.
The 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, cybersecurity, data privacy. e-Commerce, or human capital development in the ICT sector."
Chief Presidential Counsel and Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo was asked on Thursday why Duterte appointed Honasan when he did not appear to fulfill this requirement.
"It is not for us to decide on that. It is the Commission on Appointments (CA). There will be vetting there," Panelo responded during a Palace news briefing.
Work on 3rd telco player
As new DICT chief, Honasan will be in charge of shepherding the process of setting up the third telco and responding to concerns of groups that the selection process was unfair and skewed in Uy's favor. (READ: [Analysis] Disturbing red flags in the 3rd telco selection)
Acting Secretary Rio had earlier asked Duterte not to replace him just yet to give him time to wrap up his work on the entry of a third telecommunications player in the country before Christmas.
Rio made the request around the time the National Telecommunications Commission declared gave Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company (Mislatel) provisional authority to be the third telco player in the Philippines. Mislatel is composed of Presidential Adviser on Sports Dennis Uy's Udenna Corporation and China Telecommunications Corporation (China Telecom). (READ: Blockbuster to lackluster: #TelcoSerye drama leaves people puzzled)
Honasan, if his appointment is approved by the CA, will bear the responsibility of fulfilling Duterte's promise of faster and more reliable internet connection.
Data privacy and security concerns will also be top of mind for the new DICT chief, especially with the entry of a new telco player.
Honasan joins the growing list of former military men in the Duterte Cabinet which includes Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr, and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.