From out of nowhere, Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan now has the inside track to become the new secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), multiple sources told Newsbytes.PH.
The 69-year-old former rebel soldier was not initially in the shortlist of candidates for the post left vacant by the resignation of Rodolfo Salalima. In the list were presidential adviser for ICT Ramon Jacinto, DICT assistant secretary Carlos Caliwara, and National Telecommunications Commission chair Gamaliel Cordoba.
Honasan, who is not eligible for re-election as senator in the 2019 midterm polls, is likely to assume the post after the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno in the event that the House of Representatives transmits the articles of impeachment to the Senate.
“But by all means, this position is already in the bag. This has been reserved for him (Honasan),” said the source, noting that the lawmaker has been visiting the main office of the DICT recently.
DICT undersecretary and officer-in-charge Eliseo Rio, a former military officer like Honasan, said in a telephone interview that there is no official correspondence yet from Malacanang regarding Honasan’s looming appointment.
Rio admitted, however, that there’s a strong chance that Honasan might eventually snag the post. “Malakas ang pangalan nya,” he told Newsbytes.PH.
While Rio is older and entered the Armed Forces service much ahead of Honasan, their fathers are said to be close buddies from their days as cadets in the Philippine Military Academy. Honasan is also a graduate of the PMA, while Rio is a product of the ROTC program of the University of the Philippines.
After attending high school at Dos Bosco Technical College, Honasan took up Economics at UP where he became a member of the Alpha Sigma fraternity. He then went on to the PMA, where he graduated as “Class Baron”. In 1981, he took up his Masters Degree in Business Management at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).
According to the sources, the DICT could benefit from the appointment of Honasan who has the ears and trust of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte. “As long as he has access to the president, we’re good. His staff can take care of the technical matters,” said the source.
Another source, a high-ranking executive of an agency, said Honasan could be Duterte’s key man in the DICT that can carry out “time-bound execution” of big-ticket ICT projects.