MANILA, Philippines – Some 7 months after President Rodrigo Duterte signed his appointment as Information and Communications Technology Secretary, former senator Gregorio Honasan II finally took his oath of office on Monday, July 1.
The oath-taking ceremony took place right before the start of the July Cabinet meeting in Malacañang. It finished around 6 pm.
"[He] took his oath as DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology) secretary earlier. He is now in the Cabinet meeting," said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea in a message to Rappler.
Senator Panfilo Lacson had earlier spoken of the ceremony on Twitter.
"My heartfelt congratulations to my classmate, colleague, and friend, DICT Secretary Gregorio 'Gringo' Honasan who is about to take his oath of office anytime now, before the scheduled Cabinet meeting in Malacañang today," Lacson had said.
Honasan's appointment had been formalized back in November 2018. At that time, his credentials to lead the DICT were questioned.
Republic Act No. 10844, the law which created the DICT, states that the DICT secretary must 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."
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, asked back then about whether or not Honasan fulfilled the requirement, said the Palace would leave the Commission on Appointments to decide on the matter.
Aside from the concern over Honasan's qualifications, there is 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.
At the start of 2019, Senate President Vicente Sotto III hinted that Honasan's appointment may not push through after all and that he might be nominated for a different post.
As DICT chief, Honasan will be in charge of ensuring successful operations of the 3rd telecommunications player and fulfilling Duterte's promise of fast and reliable internet throughout the country.
Data privacy and security concerns will also be top of mind.
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.