Meeting the Prodigal Son of Philippine Politics

Just when I thought it would be a difficult interview with the man who was tagged as the rebel or prodigal son of Philippine Politics, Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II shooed away any intimidation and hesitation I had as soon as he answers my first question with a smile and confidence.

Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II

One of the greatest benefits of blogging is definitely meeting people you never thought you’d meet. Not that I want to meet everyone, but if given a chance to meet people who are aspiring to lead a country, and their intentions sounds generally good, then why not, right? I wasn’t excited to meet Senator Honasan, to be honest, but it was a pleasure meeting him to discuss some of his aspirations for the country, which he believes could be great if taken seriously.

For those who are not yet aware, Senator Gringo Honasan is one of the few aspiring candidates who wish to occupy the seat of the second highest position in the government this 2016 Election, the Vice President. The running tandem of probably one of the most controversial presidential candidates for the upcoming national election, Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, Sr., Senator Honasan filed his candidacy last October 2015.

I would consider our meeting as a very straight forward one. Known to many as a very vocal person in terms of his goals and frustrations about the country and the system that’s running it, Senator Honasan shared to me, and to selected online community members, some of his ideas and why he thinks Vice President Binay is the best choice for the presidency this election. Majority of us didn’t agree with him about Binay, but I would consider his ideas very supplemental and close to reality, hence our conversation went so well – informative and entertaining at the same time.

During this gathering, I learned that if given a chance he is elected as the next Vice President, he wants to focus on the Peace and Order of the country. A former AFP soldier, Senator Gringo Honasan started his political career in 1995, where he ran as an independent candidate. The first independent candidate in the Philippine history to have won a seat in the Senate, Senator Honasan, given his credentials and outstanding performance in his first term, was re-elected in 2001 and again in 2007 elections.

Senator Honasan posing for the camera with me together with these two biography books that features him and his brothers in the Military. Thanks, Senator!

“Being a Vice President is definitely a challenge. The job of the Vice President is to wait kung ano ang trabahong ibibigay sa kanya. May usapan kami ni Vice President Binay that I will handle Peace and Order - everything related to security in its generic sense - if we won. Security na hindi lamang para sa pulis at sa military. Security nating lahat na kailangang pagtulung-tulungan,” Senator Honasan said.

Senator Honasan hopes to bring security to every family where they don’t have to worry going home late at night or even leaving their family in the middle of the night to work. He believes that it is a vital factor in our country most especially now.

“I’m the kind of father who wants to see his sons and daughters at home safe and sound, and I want every Filipino family to have the same setup,” he added.

In his explanation about Peace and Order, he also tackled the issue that’s been loitering about Mindanao for decades now.

“The problem that we have in Mindanao is not about religion – its good governance. I’ve been there and I saw that Muslims, Christians and Lumads are all wearing the same clothes – malong. Food, clothing shelter, education and services - if the government can provide all of these things, we won’t have the same problem in Mindanao now,” Senator Honasan mentioned.

In relation to Peace and Order, Senator Honasan despite his “No” vote on RH Bill still believes that we should have a law in moderating our population and harnessing the production capacity of the nation.

“We must have a population policy – a clear population policy that can harness the productivity of our people. If we are able to harness the productive capacity of our people and give most of our people, if not everybody, gainful employment so that they can feed, clothed, shelter their children and if you add send their children to school, give them medicine or send them even to a barangay health center, I think we are on our way towards a long term, serious policy plan,” he added.

On the issue of Employment and Quality of Education, Senator Gringo believe that if we’re able to harness the productivity of our people and the proper and reasonable distribution of land, we won’t have problem with employment. He said that one of the long-term plans that he wants to push once he occupy the seat of the Vice President is to focus on the “Land Use.”

“I am the chairman of the Committee on Agrarian Reform in the Senate for as far as I can remember. Hacienda Luisita is not even two hours from where the President sits. It covers about three municipalities, about 5,000 hectares, can you imagine, the land is just there? We have amended the CARP law at least three times. But what it needs is a serious long-term policy plan. My objective is to bring back the 14 million and if the program is clear, whoever is the president, then it’s clear. Quality of Education, K to 12, I don’t have a problem with that. The time to intervene is between the ages of 0 to 6 through nutrition. If you don’t feed the kids well, after the age of 6, even if you give them one laptop and one teacher each, diminishing returns - underdeveloped mind, underdeveloped body. So, it is important to include the nutrition program on K to 12,” he cited.

Aside from Land Use, Senator Honasan also mentioned the issue on Charter Change or Cha-Cha. “Kapag sinabi mong Charter Change - Naku! Pampalawig lang yan ng termino! - But it’s about how you confront the issues so that we can conduct an inventory, promote the Land Use Policy, he added.”

One of the topics that made us all more interested in our conversation was the issue on Freedom of Information (FOI). And as the fine senator shares his opinion about it, “Freedom of Information tayo din ang nag-sponsor niyan here in the 15th Congress. FOI, Transparency. In fact, we changed the acronym of FOI to POGI BillPeople’s Ownership of Government Information Bill.”

“I hope that in the next administration, I would, I would push for it. Transparency kasi. ” he said sadly.

Senator Gringo Honasan believe that in the idea of “unifying and healing”, something that he looks forward as we elect a set of new leaders of our country. “The time for changes is between election,” as he mentioned when we are about to wrap up our small talk.

“I have decided to run for the second highest position in the land because this may be the last time I will stand on a national platform to speak to the Filipino people. And my message to those who were born during that time and those who were not yet born is when the Filipino people get together with their soldiers under moral leadership, change is possible, that the systemic changes and the re-engineering of our society and our government that is required for real reforms can actually happen,” he concluded.

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