Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) secretary Gregorio “Gringo” B. Honasan II filed on Friday, Oct. 8, his certificate of candidacy for senator in the 2022 elections, effectively resigning from the DICT.
Honasan is expected to meet the officials and employees of the DICT on Monday, Oct. 11, at the agency’s central office in Quezon City to formally say goodbye. Undersecretary Jose Arturo “Brady” de Castro has reportedly been designated as officer-in-charge pending the announcement of a new secretary.
Honasan’s two-year run as DICT head was lackluster and controversial, with his promise of bringing the local ICT industry closer to the national agenda ending in a big disappointment. His decision to appoint and surround himself with top lieutenants with almost no experience in the ICT sector also did not help in advancing the agency’s programs.
But the biggest controversy to rock his brief tenure at the agency was when former undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr. resigned from his post in February 2020 and questioned the disbursements of P300 million in confidential funds of the DICT.
It was also during his tenure that the global cybersecurity ranking of the Philippines plunged from 37th in 2017 to 61st in 2020 based on the latest Global Cybersecurity Index published by the International Telecommunications Union, an organ of the United Nations.
A statement from the DICT, however, claimed that Honasan’s stint was marked by “accomplishments and strides in advancing ICT-driven connectivity in the Philippines”.
“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,” he said.
Under Honasan, the DICT said the country’s connectivity programs led to improvements in ICT competitiveness. The Philippines’ fixed broadband speed now ranks 63rd out of 180 countries in the Global Index, while mobile Internet speed ranks 73rd out of 140 countries, it said.
The department said Honasan was able to do this by prioritizing the rollout of digital connectivity programs such as the National Broadband Program (NBP) and the Free Wi-Fi for All Program.
“Ang inyong DICT ay naglabas din ng Common Tower Policy sa ilalim ng Department Circular No. 008, s. 2021 at ng Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 1, s. 2020, upang mapaikli namin ang timeline para sa proseso ng pagtatayo ng mga common tower,” Honasan stated.
During Honasan’s term, the DICT said it also partnered with the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and various government agencies for the issuance of the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 1, s. 2020, which streamlined the permitting and issuance of necessary clearances for building common towers.
The DICT said it also spearheaded the development of the VaxCertPH portal for the issuance of digital and uniform vaccine certifications.
The ICT agency said also Honasan’s leadership was instrumental in improving the its operational efficiency by strengthening the DICT’s human resource and internal organization by regularizing the majority of its current workforce.
“When Secretary Honasan first started, only 300 plantilla positions were carried over from the predecessors of DICT that were placed, or roughly 30% of the organization. As of September 30 2021, 899 personnel have now been appointed to plantilla positions and around 75% of the Department’s plantilla positions have now been filled up,” the agency stated.