Senator Gregorio Honasan II on Friday said he is accepting the post as secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology.
“For a better Philippines, a better government, for the Filipino people, and for a better future for our most precious children; I have decided to accept the offer of the President to help lead the DICT,” Honasan said in a statement.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in a media interview in Boracay, Aklan on Thursday, confirmed he offered the post of DICT secretary to Honasan.
“I think he’s considering the possibility. On my part, I invited him. I said, if you are not doing anything and if you will not run again... why don’t you join me in a quest for a better Philippines and a better government,” he said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier said the appointment of Honasan may come as early as Monday, Nov. 12.
In the Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum on Nov. 7, Sotto said Honasan’s impending appointment to the DICT has been discussed during a meeting with Duterte on Oct. 29.
Honasan will replace DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr.
Malacañang expressed optimism that Honasan would steer the DICT in “good direction.”
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Duterte administration is glad that Honasan accepted the offer to join the Cabinet.
“We are confident that the senator would provide good direction and sound management to the DICT, consistent with the President’s priority programs beneficial to Filipino consumers in the areas of information, communications, and technology,” Panelo said in a statement.
The Palace official also added the entry of Mislatel Consortium, as the provisional new major player in the telecommunications industry, would help Honasan in his functions.
Honasan, chairman of the Senate defense committee, will end his fourth Senate term next year.
He also served as a Senator from 1995 to 2001, 2007 to 2013 and 2013 to 2019.
Honasan will join the roster of former military appointees in the Duterte Cabinet such as retired Army Chief Rolando Bautista as Social Welfare secretary, former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Roy Cimatu as Environment chief, and former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Eduardo Año as the secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said Friday his first piece of advice to Honasan was to replace his “Jurassic” cellphone so that he at least appears to be a “techie.”
He also said the appointment was important, given the key role the DICT can play.
Sotto, meanwhile, said he knows Honasan will be of great value to the executive department, and expressed confidence that the Commission on Appointments would swiftly confirm him.
Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, chairman of the Senate science and technology committee, said he looks forward to working with Honasan to strengthen the ICT sector.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, principal author of the law creating the DICT, stressed that the immediate challenge before Honasan is to assure the public, the Senate included, that the third telco will not compromise national security and will be able to meet its rollout schedule and service deliverables on time.
“Many of the problems we confront today—from traffic to illiteracy to health care—have ICT solutions which can ease the pain they cause or make them totally go away,” said Recto.
Another area of concern, he said, is the nation’s defense against cyber attacks because an enemy with a missile is as dangerous as one with malware.
He described Honasan as a silent workhorse in a chamber of show horses. “He has always been after good policies not after good publicity,” he said.
“Greg takes the helm of an agency whose policies affect every Filipino who has a cellphone in his pocket and a social media account in his name,” Recto said.
“This is so because broadband is now the third utility, after water and power. It needs to be improved because every 10 percentage points increase in broadband penetration is said to boost gross domestic product by 1 percent.”