Gregorio Honasan

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Gregorio Honasan RAM Duterte meeting (cropped).jpg

Gregorio Ballesteros Honasan II (born 14 March 1948), better known as Gringo Honasan, is a Philippine Army veteran and politician. He was a senator from 1995 to 2001, from 2001 to 2004, from 2007 to 2013, and from 2013 to 2019. He is currently the secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.[1]

As a military officer, he led unsuccessful coups d'état against President Corazon Aquino. Prior to engaging in the mutinies, he took part in the 1986 EDSA Revolution that ousted President Ferdinand Marcos and installed Aquino as president.

Early life

Gregorio Honasan was born in Baguio City, Benguet on 14 March 1948 to Romeo Gillego Honasan, a lieutenant colonel in the army, and Alicia Masip Ballesteros.[2] His parents were both from Sorsogon province. He received his elementary education from San Beda College. He initially attended the Dominican School in Taipei for his high school education when his father was assigned in Taiwan as the Philippines’ military attaché.[3] When their family returned to the Philippines, Honasan continued and finished high school at Don Bosco Technical College.

Honasan graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1971 and was accorded the title “class baron,” the highest leadership recognition in the academy.[2]

Military career

Honasan joined the Philippine Army’s special forces, Scout Ranger Regiments after graduating in 1971. He was stationed in Luzon and Mindanao in the campaign against communists and separatists. In 1974, he became Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile’s aide-de-camp and then the defense ministry’s chief of security. Honasan was also the president of Beatriz Marketing Company and a board member of the Northern Mindanao Development Bank while he was the defense ministry’s chief of security.[4]

Political career

People Power

In 1986, social unrest was intensifying in response to the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. When allegations of fraud and other irregularities surface in the 1986 snap election, Enrile and Honasan, along with the latter's Reform the Armed Forces Movement, plotted to overthrow Marcos.[5] When the plan was uncovered, the group retreated to military headquarters and asked support from then-AFP Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Fidel Ramos, who was also the chief of the Philippine Constabulary (now the Philippine National Police). Ramos resigned from his position and supported the rebels. He also asked help from the public and the Catholic Church. The hundreds of thousands that gathered to protect the soldiers sparked what would become the 1986 People Power Revolution, forcing Marcos out of the presidency.

Coups d'état

With the ouster of Marcos, Corazon C. Aquino was installed as president following the People Power Revolution. Shortly after, she conferred Honasan a Distinguished Conduct star and gave him a Presidential Government medal for his participation in the revolt. However, Honasan would be involved in a series of coup attempts against Aquino.[5] On 28 August 1987, Honasan ordered his subordinates to attack government properties, including the Malacanang Palace. The assault left 53 people dead and many others wounded, including Aquino’s son, Benigno Simeon Aquino III. Honasan escaped when government forces responded to the mutiny. He was later caught and imprisoned on a Navy ship in Manila Bay. After convincing his guards to join him in his cause, Honasan was able to escape authorities once more.[5]

Senate

After Fidel V. Ramos was elected president in 1992, he granted amnesty to Honasan. Honasan successfully ran for senator in 1995, the first independent candidate in Philippine history to win a Senate seat. Though he placed 13th in the 2001 Senate election and hence was not elected, he was able to join the upper house once more when Senator Teofisto Guigona vacated his seat to become vice president of the country after then vice president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ascended to the presidency following the ouster of Joseph Estrada. Honasan joined Juan Ponce Enrile, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Panfilo Lacson and Vicente Sotto III from April 30 to 1 May 2001 in leading rallies supporting Estrada.[6][7]

Honasan’s second Senate term ended in 2004. In 2007, he was re-elected to the Senate once more, serving until 2013. He secured a fourth Senate term in the 2013 election.

Honasan ran for vice president in the 2016 elections, with presidential hopeful Jejomar Binay as his running mate. He placed 6th after getting only 788,881 votes.[8]

Information and Communications Technology Secretary

After Honasan’s fourth Senate term ended in 2019, he was appointed secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), with President Rodrigo Duterte swearing him into office on 1 July 2019.[9]

In January 2020, the Commission on Audit reported 300 million pesos worth of cash advances and confidential funds credited to the DICT under Honasan. Undersecretary Eliseo Rio, who was then resigning from his position, also raised concerns about the confidential funds and cash advances. Later on, Honasan and Rio issued a joint statement saying the confidential expenses were “lawful and legitimate” and that Rio’s resignation was not due to any anomaly related to the funds or any misunderstanding with Honasan.[10]

References

External links