In his recent column for the Philippine Star, no less than former Senate President Ernesto Maceda described Senator Gregorio â€œGringoâ€ Honasan II as a hardworking senator who would most likely become a hardworking vice president if he wins in the coming national elections.
Having authored numerous, mostly landmark legislation addressing urgent national concerns such as agrarian reform, disaster risk reduction, indigenous peopleâ€™s rights, clean air, drunk and drugged driving, solid waste management, dangerous drugs, firearms and ammunition regulation, and illegal explosives, Honasan said he will continue to work hard for the welfare of the nation and its people regardless of the electionâ€™s outcome.
Even if he does not emerge victorious, Honasan still has three years left on his term as senator. In a recent blog conference attended by Orange Magazine, the good senator said that whether he continues to remain in the legislature or is fortunate enough to hold a higher office, he intends to devote the remainder of his public life in making the Philippines a better place for both the present and future generations of Filipinos.
â€œIâ€™ve been in public office for 42 yearsâ€”17 years as a soldier, 7 years as a rebel, 18 years as a Senator. By the time my term was supposed to end in 2019, I shall have served as an independent Senator for 21 years,â€ he shared.
In outlining his own program in addition to that of his own party, UNA, Honasan identified several key issues as those that need immediate attention. They are the countryâ€™s territorial disputes with China, the K-12 education program, climate change, the pork barrel scandal, advances in telecommunications, real estate laws, the rotating brownouts in Mindanao and yes, drugs.
As far as China is concerned, the senator wants â€œa clear, national policy on the disputed territories that will also reflect into our foreign, economic and security concerns.â€
â€œI want to know if the treaties that we arranged in different countries continues to serve our national and mutual interest. If our bilateral agreements with other countries doesnâ€™t serve our own interests, then maybe it is much better to continue to talk to China in a multilateral arrangement.â€
On the issue of the K-12 education program, Honasan has made it clear that he supports it but it also needs to be â€œaugmented with a feeding program and the government should intervene to address malnutrition in children ages 0-6.â€
â€œThe government should provide free food for children in public schools and day-care centers. It is our job for our children to make them smarter, healthier, stronger and safer,â€ he added.
When it comes to climate change, Honasan pointed out that the government should work hand in hand with the people in ensuring more public awareness about this.
â€œWe should prepare and do everything to lessen the impact of climate change in our country by pushing and promoting renewable energy â€“ solar, wind and possibly wave technology as alternative sources of power.â€
The pork barrel scandal otherwise known as the PDAF scam is also one of the most sensitive issues that drew the loudest protests under the Aquino administration. This despite the arrest of several key politicians and alleged PDAF mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Honasanâ€™s position on this is clear: pork barrel is out, no ifs and buts about it.
â€œI supported the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF and it should not be revived under a different name or process. The Supreme Court ruled against it. They even declared it as unconstitutional so there is no room to make another one,â€ he stressed.
The war against drugs is also something the senator takes very seriously and offers some very specific albeit radical solutions. He believes that a combination of â€œgood parenthood, alternative means of livelihood and a more cost-effective and efficient rehabilitationâ€ can be an effective way to initially address the problem.
â€œMaybe we should also combine PDEA and the Dangerous Drugs Board. Put them under the Office of the President and letâ€™s create special courts that will seriously hear cases related to drugs. When you talk of supply reduction, maybe we should consider allowing the wire-tapping of suspected drugs syndicate heads. We can also look at close monitoring of a family members and we should empower communities in upholding peace and order by providing them with intelligence systems.â€
People are growing tired of poor communications system in the country. Honasan believes â€œthe entry or participation of foreign entities will end the problems confronting slow internet, signal interruptions, and other related issues but it may require some changes in our Constitution.â€
â€œThe government should enhance its regulatory functions through the NTC and the granting of franchises, including the underutilize should be done rightfully to serve its purpose which is giving an air- time allocated for public information.â€
The high cost of electricity in general and the rotating brownouts in Mindanao in particular have also become mounting concerns in recent years. Honasan believes that any solutions to this problem should be guided by the core principles of â€œreasonable prices and steady supply.â€
â€œWhat we need basically is a long term energy development program. We should put that in place not only in the case of Mindanao but also in the whole country. We have to consider that there should always be a problem in energy,â€ he stressed.
Problems involving real estate affects not just the economy as a whole but can also hinder other related areas including infrastructure and yes, traffic. For this, the senator is proposing a comprehensive National Land Use Policy or a Land Use Law.
â€œIt can be the best and a long term solution in problems facing our real estate industries. I have been pushing for this since my first term as a Senator in 1995. If there is a centralized zoning plan, we can identify the areas for commercial, residential, agricultural, industrial, government centers, educational centers, recreational use and those prone to calamities,â€ he explained.
â€œAlso, when we plan our land use, we can lay the ground work and we will know exactly where infrastructure like roads, bridges, rail way systems, subways, MRTs, LRTs, seaports, airports would be located. This may even be a solution to traffic which impacts on job security generically.â€
From the time he fought side-by-side with the people in 1986 during the EDSA People Power Revolution to the time he rebelled against the government before eventually submitting to the system and began his long and productive stint as a distinguished lawmaker, Senator Gringo Honasan has always had the peopleâ€™s interests in mind.
With his long experience in public service coupled with his well-thought of solutions to a wide array of issues confronting the country, it appears that he is the most prepared among the vice presidential candidates.
But as he himself pointed out, Honasanâ€™s service to the people goes beyond the May 9 elections as he intends to devote the rest of his public life for the betterment of the Philippines as a whole.