Gringo Honasan is a retired soldier, revolutionary and politician. He most recently served as secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology secretary from 2019 to 2021.
Honasan also successfully ran for Senate in 1995, 2001, 2007 and in 2013.
He has carried the label of destabilizer ever since the 1980s when he first emerged on the national stage as one of the young leaders of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement whose withdrawal of support from the regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos played a key role in the success of the people-led uprising in 1986.
In the 1990s, Honasan led several military revolts against the Corazon Aquino administration. He was captured and charged with rebellion, escaped with his guards, and was later granted amnesty by President Fidel V. Ramos in 1992.
Together with fellow senators, Honasan led the EDSA III protests in support of deposed President Joseph Estrada and condemnation of the latter’s arrest, effectively ending in the May 1, 2011 storming of Malacañang Palace.
He was also implicated in the 2004 Oakwood and 2006 marine mutinies against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In 2007, coup d’etat charges against him were dropped.
Under Honosan’s watch, the Commission on Audit flagged in its annual 2020 report that the DICT “was not able to maximize the utilization of the appropriations and allotments which may adversely affect its delivery of services to the public especially in this time of pandemic.”
Honasan vied for the vice presidency in 2016 alongside presidential aspirant Jejomar Binay but they both lost.
He is part of the Senate slates of the administration-backed PDP-Laban and the tandem of Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
Although Honasan was part of the movement that ousted Marcos, he is also part of the slate of the late dictator’s son and namesake who is seeking the presidency alongside the incumbent president’s daughter Sara Duterte.
Honasan opposes the legalization of divorce, same-sex marriage, the death penalty and voted against the reproductive health law when it was being debated in the Senate. He supports imposing higher penalties for cyber libel and the passage of the freedom of information bill.
“Connectivity, which includes access to data and information, is now classified as a right, just like food, clothing, shelter and health services. Simula nang tayo ay manungkulan sa DICT, ating pinalakas at pinalawak ang implementasyon ng ating mga programa para pataasin ang antas ng connectivity sa bansa.“
GREGORIO “GRINGO” BALLESTEROS HONASAN II
Full Name: Gregorio Ballesteros Honasan II
Birthdate: March 14, 1948 (Age 75)
Birthplace: Baguio City, Benguet
Languages Spoken: Filipino; English
– Romeo Honasan, father, colonel
– Alice Ballesteros, mother, teacher
– Six siblings, including Alya Honasan, Journalist
Spouse: Jane Umali Honasan, Medical Technologist
Children: Five children, including:
– Martin Honasan
– Klarina “Kuki” Honasan Ulpindo
– Kai Honasan
Profession/Occupation: Public Servant
- Master in Business Management, Asian Institute of Management (1981)
- Bachelor of Science in Military Science, Philippine Military Academy (1971)
- Secretary, Department of Information and Communications Technology, July 2019 – October 2021
- Acting Majority Floor Leader, Senate of the Philippines, 2013
- Senator, Senate of the Philippines, 1995 – 2001; 2001-2004; 2007-2013; 2013-2019
- Commandant of Special Operations School, Philippine Army Training Command, 1986-1987
- Colonel, Philippine Army, 1983
- Aide-de-camp of then-Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, 1974 – 1980s
BILLS AND RESOLUTIONS
- RA 10121: Philippine Disaster Risk Management Act
- RA 9592: Qualification standards in BFP and BJMP
- RA 9708: Education Requirements for Promotion in the Philippine National Police
- RA 9700: Act strengthening the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program
- RA 9729: Climate Change Act
- RA 9514: Revised Fire Code of the Philippines
- RA 9803: Food Donation Act
- RA 10591: Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act
- RA 10586: Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act
- RA 10515: Anti-Cable Television and Cable Internet Tapping Act
- RA 10168: Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act
- RA 10167: Act strengthening the Anti-Money Laundering Act
- RA 10659: Sugarcane Industry Development Act
- RA 11164: Increasing the monthly pension of senior veterans
- RA 11053: Anti-Hazing Act
- RA 9994: Expanded Senior Citizens Act
- RA 10055: Philippine Technology Transfer Act
- RA 9828: Military Service Board
- RA 9500: University of the Philippines Charter
- RA 10618: Rural Farm Schools Act
- RA 10361: Domestic Workers Act
- RA 10666: Children’s Safety on Motorcycles Act
- RA 10635: Maritime Industry Authority
- RA 10645: Expanded Senior Citizens Act
- RA 11364: Cooperative Development Authority Charter
- RA 11215: National Integrated Cancer Control Act
- RA 11314: Student Fare Discount Act
- RA 11148: Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act
- RA 11232: Revised Corporation Code of the Philippines
- RA 11037: Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act
A veteran lawmaker, Honsan has served four terms as senator. Available legislative records on the Senate website show that he principally authored at least seven laws, authored some 53 others and sponsored at least 12.
He principally authored laws increasing the monthly old-age pension of senior veterans and increasing the base pay of military and uniformed personnel in government, the Anti-Hazing Law and the Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act of 2017. He was also the principal sponsor of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Extension with Reforms Law.
Honason promoted national security policy, the freedom of information or People’s Ownership of Government Information Bill and a proposed Mini Marshall Plan for peace and development in Mindanao.
After the end of his second re-election term in 2019, he formally assumed office as DICT secretary, after facing questions about his qualifications for the position which requires at least seven years of competence and expertise in a number of scientific and technological fields.
As DICT secretary, Honasan oversaw the continued implementation of the National Broadband Plan, the Free WiFi program, cybersecurity and the national government portal. He also regularized the majority of the DICT workforce. However, during his tenure, the COA reported that the DICT failed to spend P5.78 billion of its budget for 2020, including P2.94 billion allocated for the implementation of key programs seeking to improve internet connectivity.
“It appears that the Department was not able to maximize the utilization of the appropriations and allotments which may adversely affect its delivery of services to the public especially in this time of pandemic where the DICT is in the frontline of government’s response against the COVID-19 and when most employees are working at home and students are attending classes online,” COA said in its annual 2020 report.”
Honasan has also faced several other expenditure-related controversies. He was charged and ordered arrested for two counts of graft relating to the alleged misuse of about P29.1 million worth of pork barrel funds; he surrendered and posted bail. The Sandiganbayan dismissed the charges in 2021, citing weak evidence presented by the prosecution.
In January 2020, the COA flagged DICT for directing about P300 million pesos of unspent funds to the intelligence and confidential funds via cash advances under Honasan’s orders in 2019, in violation of rules on confidential funds and causing underperformance of the department’s mandate on cybersecurity in 2019, according to DICT’s internal auditors. No charges were filed in relation to such COA finding, but senators called for more oversight of the intelligence fund allocation of government agencies as well as further investigations.
In Oct. 2020, Honasan noted that the DICT will stop confidential spending in 2021 and refrained from requesting such allocation for its 2021 budget, following the controversy over its use in 2019, He admitted that the P800 million previously earmarked for confidential spending in the 2020 budget had been withdrawn.
All throughout his life, Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Ballesteros Honasan II had been a consistent achiever. Born on Match 14, 1948 in Baguio City to Colonel Romeo Honasan and Alice Ballesteros, both of Sorsogon Province, Sen. Honasan already exhibited above average intellectual and leadership abilities even in his younger years.
During his elementary and secondary education both here and abroad, Honasan was an outstanding student who was accelerated into the higher grades at the San Beda College and Dominican School in Taipei, Taiwan and the Don Bosco High School in Mandaluyong. At the Philippine Military Academy where he took his Bachelor of Science in 1971, he received the academy’s highest leadership award and became the Class Baron.
After joining the Philippine Army in the same year, he went into combat duty in Luzon and Mindanao. It was in Mindanao where he was wounded in action at the battles of Lebak, Mindanao and Jolo, Sulu.
Honasan’s distinguished performance in the military earned him three (3) Distinguished Stars of Counter Insurgency Operations Against Economic Saboteurs and Drug Traffickers. Aside from the three (3) Gold Cross Medals for Gallantry in Action in the Battles of Lebak, Jolo and Zamboanga in 1973 to 1974, he also received awards such as Military Merit Medals, Military Commendation Medals, Anti-Insurgency Medals, Anti-Secessionist Medals and Wounded Personnel Medals for wounds sustained in actual combat, among others.
Then Lt. Honasan served as Aide-de-Camp to the Secretary of National Defense in 1974 and later became the department’s Chief of Security. And, after leading three (3) successful operations against Insurgents, Economic Saboteurs and Drug Traffickers, Honasan became one of the youngest full colonels in Philippine history.
Because of his consistent excellence in the military, he was awarded one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men for Military Service by the Jaycees.
In 1986, he was awarded by then President Corazon Aquino with a Distinguished Conduct Star for the EDSA Revolution and the Presidential Government Medal in 1986. He then became the Commandant of Special Operations School at the Philippine Army Training Command in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija in 1986 to 1987.
When Honasan finally entered politics in 1995, he became the first independent candidate in Philippine history to win a Senate seat.
As a neophyte lawmaker in the 10th Congress, he filed 144 bills and 44 resolutions. In the 11th Congress, Honasan has so far filed 64 bills and 63 resolutions.
Among his noteworthy bills signed into law were:
Republic Act Number 8368 – a law that decriminalized squatting.
Republic Act Number 8437 – which extends the period of effectivity of the Rent Control Law, from January 1, 1998 until December 31, 2001
Republic Act Number 8501 – Condones penalties imposed by government agencies that are involved in the National Housing Program, all of which have detrimental effect on intended socialized housing program beneficiaries;
Republic Act Number 8532 – Increases the Agrarian Reform Fund to Fifty Billion Pesos that will be used to finance production, credits, infrastructure and other support services and is intended to speed up the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and will benefit 4,000,000 tillers of land and the agricultural sector;
Concurrent Resolution Number 5 – concurring with the Proclamation number 21 of the Republic of the Philippines, entitled: “Further Amending Proclamation Number 347 Granting Amnesty to Rebels, Insurgents And All Other Persons Who Have Or May Have Committed Crimes In Furtherance Of Political Ends, And Violations Of The Articles Of War, And Creating A National Amnesty Commission, As Amended ” ; and
Republic Act Number 8749, otherwise known as the Clean Air Act (An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Air Pollution Policy and For Other Purposes). This landmark legislation ensures the people’s right to breath clean air via clean fuels, emission regulation, and a ban on incinerators, among others. About 20 Million residents are its projected beneficiaries.
The legislative agenda of Senator Honasan for the 11th Congress revolves around Good Government and Efficient Bureaucracy; Reforms in AFP and PNP; Industrialization and Genuine Economic Development ; Natural Resources and Environmental Protection and Management; Good Education for all and Opportunities for the Marginalized Sectors.
His legislative priorities for the 12th Congress are:
The Land Use Act – an Act providing for the national land use policy and planning network and the implementing mechanism
Clean Water Act – an Act providing for a comprehensive water resource policy and water sector development, creating the water resources management commission and for other purposes;
An Act Declaring a National Peace Policy – creating the Commission on Peace and for other purposes falls under the Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation;
OTHER NOTABLE ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
Author of the Mini-Marshall Plan for Mindanao, otherwise known as the Mindanao Aid Plan or the . The Plan was a comprehensive blueprint for Mindanao’s socio-economic development following the region’s devastation due to the full scale military offensive against the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
To date, his sponsored over 200 Medical-Dental-Surgical Missions in depressed areas of the country, serving at least 20,000 indigent patients.
Prime mover of the National Security Strategy Framework which seeks to define the country’s national security and strategy in the light of internal and external security threats and the consequent National Peace Policy.
Sponsored the computer education scholarship of 3,000 students thru the Sulong Dunong sa Kaunlaran program.
Sponsored the college scholarship of 106 out-of-school youths.
Regularly distributes relief assistance to calamity-hit areas in the country through his Gregorio B. Honasan Peace and Development Foundation founded in 1995.
Served thousands of constituents requesting for claims for PVAO, SSS and AFP/PNP claims and refund of teachers’ loans through his Public Service Program aired over RMN-DZXL and DZRH-Radyo Natin and Gringo Honasan Reports aired over RPN-9 and PTV-4
Fellow, National Defense College of the Philippines.