Honasan aces CA confirmation as DICT head

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    FORMER Sen. Gregorio Honasan yesterday breezed through his confirmation hearing at the Commission on Appointments (CA) as secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

    With no questions asked, the CA committee on information and communications technology endorsed Honasan’s confirmation to the plenary, which subsequently unanimously approved it.

    Honasan took his oath of office as DICT secretary on July 2 after he ended his term as senator on June 30 this year.

    No opposition was submitted against his confirmation before the powerful body despite observers earlier raising legal issues regarding his qualification.

    The members of both the House and the Senate contingents of the CA did not bring up these issues before the committee on information and communications technology.

    Honasan’s former colleagues heaped praises at him in their sponsorship speeches.

    Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said the fact that “he would always ask for the data and information the agency has on a particular issue” would show his capability to lead the highly-technical agency.

    “That’s how he values the importance of data in governance and I am sure he will carry this meticulous attitude in the department,” Zubiri said.

    Sen. Cynthia Villar alluded to the legal questions and said “there is no doubt Honasan qualified for the position.”

    “If there were still doubts in opinion of others, we are confident he will dispel them as he carries out his duties and responsibilities in DICT,” Villar said.

    Sen. Grace Poe cited Honasan’s experience in “lead[ing] a group of progressive soldiers dreaming of systemic improvements” as the leader of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement that mutinied against the regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos which paved the way for the first People Power uprising.

    Honasan later on led a series of coup d’etat attempts against the turbulent government of the late president Corazon Aquino in 1989.

    “It is but certain that such kind of leadership, passion, and determination will surely benefit a relatively young department which is the DICT,” Poe said.

    Honasan’s appointment came at a critical time as the Philippines telecommunications industry shifts to 5G technology.

    Art. VI, Sec. 13 of the 1987 Constitution prohibits a senator or congressman from being “appointed to any office which may have been created… during the term for which he was elected.”

    Republic Act No. 10844, or the law creating the DICT, was enacted in May 2016, midway through Honasan’s recent term as senator.

    Sec. 11 of the said law also requires that DICT officials have “at least seven years of competence and expertise in any of the following: information and communications technology, information technology service management, information security management, cyber security, data privacy, e-commerce, or human capital development in the ICT sector.”

    Honasan defended his qualifications: “I was not placed to be the digital lineman.

    “The technical expertise is there and the marching order of the President is very clear – connectivity,” he told reporters.