Sotto: Honasan heading to DICT

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 7) — Senator Gringo Honasan might be appointed as Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary as early as November 12, when Congress resumes after a one month break, Senate President Tito Sotto said Wednesday.

At a Kapihan sa Cafe Adriatico media forum, Sotto confirmed the rumors that have been swirling for months regarding Honasan's impending transfer to the DICT, saying this was discussed during the senators' meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte last month.

"Last October 29, we had a meeting with the President, Senator [Ping] Lacson, Senator Honasan and myself, together with [Executive Secretary Salvador] Medialdea and Secretary Bong Go, of course the President … Napagusapan 'yun (Honasan's appointment). Kung pwede, November 12 na si Greg. [It was discussed. If possible, Greg can go on November 12,]" Sotto said.

"I think he (Honasan) will be an asset sa DICT. Because ang nakikita lang natin doon sa DICT, communications, pero hindi eh. Ang laking factor nun sa national security," he said.

[Translation: I think he will be an asset sa DICT. Because what we only see in the DICT are communications, but it's not only that. It's a big factor in national security.]

Sotto said Malacañang long had an "overture" to invite Honasan to "help the DICT," but was put off "because we were thinking that we needed Greg in the Senate."

The Senate President added that Honasan would be a "big loss" to the Senate, but would still be useful to the upper chamber as a ranking official of the executive department.

"Every now and then, pwede namin siyang patawag. Pwede namin siyang pagalitan ni Senator Lacson," Sotto said in jest.

[Translation: Every now and then, we can summon him. Senator Lacson and I can scold him.]

Honasan, a former rebel soldier, heads the Senate defense and peace committees. Resolutions seeking probes into China's reported incursions in the West Philippine Sea, among others, are pending in the defense panel.

Sotto said Lacson, a former top cop, would "likely" replace Honasan in those committees, but added that the Senate majority would still discuss this matter.

Honasan would continue serving as a senator until his appointment is confirmed by the Commission on Appointments, Sotto said.

By tradition, the CA, composed of members of Congress, gives incumbent and former lawmakers a breezy confirmation hearing. For example, former Senator Alan Peter Cayetano got a swift nod from the CA when he was appointed as Foreign Affairs secretary.

Sotto said Honasan would hopefully be confirmed by the CA before Congress goes on break for the holidays in December, so he would not be bypassed.

"Kapag ikaw ay [If you are a] former member of Congress, you are given the courtesy of a swift approval, especially if you are a former member of the CA. Eh Senator Honasan is a current member of the CA. So I'm very optimistic that he would breeze through the CA," Sotto said.