By Denise A. Valdez
FOLLOWING his nomination by Malacañang late last year to take the reins at the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Senator Gregorio B. Honasan II seems uninterested in the post as his appointment lapsed due to his failure to submit required documents.
“(Mr.) Honasan was not able to complete all the documentary requirements because he was very busy of the several hearings and meetings in Senate,” Benhur L. Salimbangon, who heads the Committee on Transportation and Communications at the Commission on Appointments (CA), said in a mobile phone message on Tuesday when asked for updates.
The Palace submitted Mr. Honasan’s nomination papers on Nov. 22 last year, a check with the CA showed. But it also revealed Mr. Honasan had not submitted any of the required documents for the CA to evaluate when the nomination lapsed on Dec. 15 as Congress took its Christmas break.
Required documents include his resume as well as results of psychological evaluation and medical exams.
When the Congress resumed session on Jan. 14, the CA said it had not received reappointment papers for Sen. Honasan from the Palace.
Congress is currently on a Feb. 9-May 19 break and will have only May 20-June 7 to act on pending legislative measures.
Last week, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said he learned Mr. Honasan did not like the post of DICT secretary due to the department’s perceived “lack of teeth.”
“Ang alam ko, kaya ayaw niya, parang wala raw kasing teeth. Parang magfe-fail lang siya. Wala raw ngipin (From what I know, he doesn’t want it because it doesn’t have teeth and is bound to fail. He said it didn’t have teeth),” he said in a Feb. 20 interview after a press briefing.
“Sabi ko naman, eh di magpagawa ka ng Executive Order, lagyan mo ng ngipin ’yung mga suggestion mo. Pero ewan ko, hindi na ata interesado (I told him, ask for an executive order that will give teeth to his suggestions. But I don’t know, it seems he’s no longer interested).”
Mr. Honasan declined to comment.
Eliseo M. Rio, Jr., who has been the acting secretary of the DICT since former Secretary Rodolfo A. Salalima resigned in September 2017, said Mr. Honasan was not reappointed because of legal restrictions.
“Hindi siya na-reappoint ng Presidente because… Alam mo, meron sa Constitution natin, Article 6 Section 13, na (He wasn’t reappointed by the President because… You know, Article 6 Section 13 of our Constitution says) a senator or congressman cannot be appointed to a government agency that was created during his term,” Mr. Rio said in a Feb. 19 interview.
Art. 6 Sec. 13 of the 1987 Constitution reads in part: “No Senator or Member of the House of Representatives may hold any other office or employment in the Government… during his term without forfeiting his seat” and “Neither shall he be appointed to any office which may have been created or the emoluments thereof increased during the term for which he was elected.”
The DICT was formed on May 23, 2016 through Republic Act No. 10844, which was passed while Mr. Honasan was a member of the 16th Congress as a senator.
While the final decision rests in the hands of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Mr. Rio said he is prepared to take on the role should he be appointed by the Palace. “Siguro, yes, because marami na akong naumpisahan na gusto ko ring matapos di ’ba (Probably yes, because I’ve begun several projects that I also want to finish),” he said when asked if he would accept the job.