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Gringo Honasan: Mr. Free WiFi


As a soldier, then Col. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II demonstrated excellence and valor, receiving three of the nation’s second highest military medals:  the Distinguished Conduct Star, three Gold Cross Medals, and three Wounded Personnel Medals for wounds sustained in combat.


In the two years that he served as chief of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), former ICT Secretary Gringo Honasan has already accomplished much.


His focus on intensifying the DICT’s connectivity programs led to improvements in the Philippines' Information and Communications Technology (ICT) competitiveness. With Sec. Honasan at the helm of the DICT in August 2021 — shortly before he filed his candidacy to seek a new senate term — the Philippines recorded increases of around 800 percent in fixed broadband and around 350 percent in mobile internet speeds from its previously recorded speeds in 2016. This resulted in the improvement of Philippines’ rankings at the Global Index — 63rd out of 180 countries in fixed broadband speed, 73rd out of 140 countries in terms of mobile internet speed. In 2020, the rankings were 108th for fixed broadband and 121st for mobile.


Moreover, in the third annual edition of the Digital Quality of Life Index (DQL), the Philippines ranked 48th out of 110 countries, climbing 18 marks compared to the previous year.


Sec. Honasan prioritized the rollout of the Department’s digital connectivity programs, such as the National Broadband Program (NBP) and the Free Wi-Fi for All Program.


Under the Free Wi-Fi for All Program, the DICT in the year 2020 alone, achieved a big leap in its rollout rate by 500 percent from the yearly average of prior years.


Meanwhile, through the NBP, the DICT aims to establish a government-owned broadband network and to accelerate the deployment of fiber optic cables and wireless technologies to improve Internet speed in the country. 


In support of the Ease of Doing Business Act of 2018, the DICT implemented various digital government programs to assist the national and local government agencies to streamline their processes through online platforms, such as the Central Business Portal (CBP), which digitalizes and simplifies business registration and application for national level permits and licenses with various government agencies. Another is the Integrated Business Permits and Licensing System (iBPLS) that streamlines the processing and issuance of various permits, certificates and licenses in all cities and municipalities.


With Sec. Honasan at the helm, the DICT also further worked on intensified support for the government’s new normal response as well as implementing disaster recovery and resiliency measures.


In support of the government’s Covid-19 response, the DICT initiated the establishment of the Vaccine Information Management System (VIMS) that serves as the key processing and analytics systems for Covid-19 immunization in the country, as well as the DICT Vaccine Administration System (D-VAS). 


Legislative accomplishments


Sec. Honasan is seeking a fifth term as senator in the 2022 elections. In 1995, when he first entered politics, he became the first independent candidate in Philippine history to win a Senate seat.


As a four-term Senator, he authored laws providing for a National School Feeding Program, the increase in salaries of our soldiers and policemen, Stiffer Penalties for the Illegal Possession of Explosives, the Clean Air Act, the Comprehensive Fire Code, the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, the amendments to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program law, and the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act, among others. He also proposed the National Security Act (including the issuance of the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy), and the Comprehensive Long-Term National Peace Policy Act.


Legislative agenda 


If elected to a fifth term in the Senate, Sec. Honasan champions the need for legislation that would ensure our kababayans' KKK: Kalusugan, Kabuhayan at Kaligayahan. To address Kalusugan, he plans to expand the Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act, a law he authored during his previous term which instituted school feeding programs in public schools across the country. 


For Kabuhayan, he seeks to improve our workforce's ICT capabilities by expanding their ICT trainings to ensure their competitiveness in the global economy--which he previously instituted in DICT during his term, providing 183,699 ICT trainings in 2020 and conducting 151 capacity-building activities attended by 36,377 people in the first quarter of 2021. He plans to further increase internet speed in the country and to provide public schools with free wi-fi, free laptops, tablets and other learning tools for online learning. Sec. Honasan also strives to achieve economic stability through the establishment of the Philippine Development Plan anchored on a localized, self-sufficient, economic and employment perspective, which means basic goods are produced and consumed within 100km of each other. He shall support the continuation of the government's “Build, Build, Build” program to provide employment opportunities and revitalize our local industries. 


Sec. Honasan intends to push for the Automatic Oil Tax Adjustment Law to ensure the corresponding reduction of national oil taxes based the increase of its prices in the international market. Finally, he seeks to guarantee the income of farmers by passing a law that will require the government to purchase their crops, which in turn shall be used in the aforementioned public school feeding programs.


To safeguard our Kaligayahan, Sec. Honasan shall endeavor to make the passage of legislation aimed at peace and order a priority. To combat and deter criminality, he aims for the National CCTV Roll-Out equipped with cameras with facial recognition. Cognizant of the precarious and ever-shifting landscape of geopolitics, Sec. Honasan shall steer legislative agenda towards the adoption of a self-reliant defense posture to ensure the country's security from internal and external threats.


Magtulungan


Sec. Honasan believes that God, country and family should be the core principles of citizenship, which must be coupled with the values of faith, hope and love. He is a staunch advocate for the environment, social reforms, national security, good governance, education and public health, youth and sports development. 


Fully aware of the ills that continue to plague our country, he admits that these cannot be solved by a single person alone. Thus, he invites everyone to set aside their differences to help one another for a better Philippines for our children.  "Marami man tayong mga pagkakaiba at hindi pagkaka-unawaan, nawa'y maisantabi natin ang mga ito alang-alang sa bayan na nais nating ipamana sa ating mga pinakamamahal na anak.... kaya ikaw, ako...magtulungan tayo"!

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