Podcast and transcript: Blog Watch talk with @gringo_honasan

Disclosure: Blog Watch does not receive any compensation or payment in cash or in kind for any of our interviews and social media coverage.

Here is the recorded video of our livestream interview with Gringo Honasan .

Audio podcast

Gringo Honasan’s legislative agenda:

1.National Land Use Policy
Senator Honasan sponsored National Land Use Act which aims to establish a National Physical Framework Pan for the management and allocation of the country’s natural resources. The plan will categorize land resources into 4 categories: protection(for conservation), production(for crops, fishery, livestock and poultry), settlements development(for residential purposes), and infrastructure development (for transportation, communication, water resources, social infrastructure)

2. People’s Ownership of Government Information(POGI) Act of 2012
Senator Honasan proposes full disclosure of information on Government projects, transactions, documents & records pertaining to public interest.

Interview transcript

Mom Blogger (MB): Good evening Gringo. Can I call you Gringo?

Gringo Honasan (GH): Yes, of course…

MB: Welcome to blog watch.

MB: What we want to focus here is platforms…

GH: Ahh okay…

MB: Yes, and… can we… or later? ‘cause I would have wanted you to write in 140 characters the focus of your platform…

GH: I put it in one word.

MB: Ah okay…

GH: Children.

MB: Ohh children…

GH: Yeah.

MB: Ah okay, can you explain?

GH: The next generation of the Filipino citizens and leaders. Everything I have done from the time I spent 17 years as a soldier, 7 years as a rebel, and 15 years as a senator, I found the vocabulary after 65 years to zero in to what my life is all about. It’s all about my children and other Filipino children. Every law I have had passed was really designed to make the next generation, children, smarter, healthier, happier, stronger and safer. So that by the time their term comes when we won’t be around to guide them, they’ll be competitive with the Germans, and the Singaporeans, and the Americans, and the Chinese of their generation.

MB: Specifically, what will be the bills or legislative agenda you will pass for the children, for this 16th Congress?

GH: I’ll be continuing what I tried to do for the last 15 years, at least the legislative measures, either sponsored, co-sponsored, author, or have passed some in the pipe line.

 

Clean air, clean water, solid waste management, national security policy, fire code, amendments to the dangerous drugs act, amendments to the local government code, freedom of information, landaus policy, two extensions of the agrarian reform program the center piece program of the mother of the President, industrialization, anti-driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol…

MB: Is there a possibility?

GH: Yes… gun control law… I’ll try to recall because…

MB: I have a list here in your weekly Pilipinas…The laws and advocacies…

GH: So, if I name anyone of these laws I’d put it under the heading I’ve mentioned.

MB: Children…

GH: Keeping them stronger, make them stronger, smarter, healthier, happier and safer wherever they are. They are most precious, strategic, and renewable resource and this is something we can agree of.

MB: Of course…

GH: Yes, that’s the point…In my life time I’ve seen two occasions for the Filipino people gathered by the millions for something not against something. EDSA I 1986 February 22 to 25, and the visit of the Pope, EDSA II was the visit… I don’t know if there is such a thing as EDSA III.

MB: What happened to the people’s ownership of the government information POGI act?

GH: We call it the POGI bill, People’s ownership of the Government Information Bill
we passed it before Christmas in the senate.

The house apparently has issues to resolve. Malacañang could not certify it as urgent. For whatever reason I’m not going to be presumptuous enough to comment.

MB: That is my second question…why? Is there any way that the citizens can push the agenda in the 16th congress.

GH: They can, if you lobby hard enough and relate it to the current 90 day campaign for the May 2013 election that should… among the decision makers both in the congress and in Malacañang

MB: I heard that the freedom for information is not really… by the palace because it doesn’t relate to the “common tao” or it’s harder to push because it’s not for them it will not be them

GH: once a senior senator when you’re in the administration you don’t want the Freedom of Information Bill because it gives you obstructionist ammunition to block programs and platforms.

If you are in the opposition you want a Freedom of Information Bill because it gives you where with that to delay certain measures that do not suit your parties and political teams.

MB: So you’ll re-file this bill on the 16th?

GH: On the Freedom of Information Bill, it actually radically changes the bureaucratic landscape. It gives/ brings government back to the people. That’s why people’s ownership of government information bill. In certain exceptions, national security, foreign policy, executive privilege, private contracts, police operations, litigation, it doesn’t tell our people or the requesting party that ‘no we won’t give it to you’. It just simply says that ‘we can’t give it to you at the moment because a decision has not yet been made and it might jeopardize our public or national interest.
Transparency it’s very well with the ‘Daang matuwid’ but apparently this is not appreciated. If a requesting party brings an office or a public official to refuses to give information to court, the burden of proving the issue is brought on the shoulders of the denying party. It’s the office or the public official who should prove why the information
was not given originally it was the other way around you have to prove in court why you need the information and if you use that information so, here we go again with the core principles/ core constitutional principles with every right or freedom comes a certain responsibility if you use that information for criminal activities then you will be face with the revised penal code and the corresponding penalties.

MB: well, because a lot of us think already that the chances of that ever being pass in any administration because the people who are going to pass the law are the ones who will be affected by the law, so what will it take do you think for that kind of law to ever pass because we already see that kung gusto talaga may paraan. There had been bills that had been rush and had been really push and certify as urgent but when it comes to FOI and political dynasty mukhang hindi gumagalaw talaga eh.

GH: I’m not insinuating that the class war is real. This is the bottom line e. Anti-dynasty. During the time of President Ramos it was certify as urgent. Now why it was not passed I think you know the answer. Why naman would legislators legislate against their own interest?

MB: Correct.

GH: So the reason now is there is no enabling law. The attitude is let’s allow the people to decide. But to me that’s technical and legal problem e. If we believe after provoking a plenty debate on the marriage and the disadvantages of allowing families to control our political life then I guess we have to situate it precisely in the rational order of priority if its impacts on core principles of democracy. But on the other hand, if you look at our history, if the people do not want you anymore they will go to the states to remove you they have done that to the two presidents.

MB: Do you think that is a ….after….

GH: That’s a bad habit. That’s a bad habit that we have acquired and we can’t be victims of our own collective impatience. I know because I was in EDSA in 1986. So I think the remedy is to strengthen the institution, move towards educating our people beyond the 4 walls of the class room para they will have possession of issues But how can you do that naman and address the 50 % who continue to wallow in poverty. When you discuss decision, we say saka na natin pag-usapan yan. Naglalaba ako eh, nag bebenta ako ng barbecue. Diba? Mamaya na, kain muna tayo. It’s a convergence – of all this issues that will allow us to address more fundamental issues. Now case in point I don’t know how you feel about the k12 we supported that, k12 is a program of the department of education but I have guys this with secretary brother Armin that is more basic than that. Why? Because unless you intervene between the ages of 0-6 through nutrition even if we give our children failing to intervene who want classroom and one teacher each and one super computer each it would be in a case of underdeveloped minds and underdeveloped bodies and it’s not going to work. So the nutrition programs should be integrated in our educational system. By the way the information we are getting is alarming.  The World Health Organization extrapolated and determined that in the Philippines 80 – 100 children between the ages 0-6 die every day from malnutrition or malnutrition related process. We’ve called the NEDA and the members of the cabinet to tax for that. We haven’t gotten an answer yet —best effort — to come up with a seven peso nutri-pack Pinoy pocket, patterned – Brazil program …

MB: Yun ba yung nagkaroon ng scam? Yung inanalyze nila yung ano….. hindi talaga – nutri?

GH: Hindi. It’s actually… fiber, grains but for 7 pesos. Good for the nutritional requirements of one adult intake. But we ask them during the last budget hearing, lack of funding raw… So that is another thing I might want to push if I manage to go back to the Senate.

MB: So your one of the stronger advocacy this time around will be something nutrition program for ….

GH: I’m going to look for those 80-100 children a day. I’ll look at the demographics. Para ang intervention ay more precise at more focus but if you notice based on my responses so far there are really fundamental problems that we are facing the basic problems one problem I have encounter  we have failed to upgrade our data system or information system. Agrarian reform we tried to extend it I ask for data they gave me a balik-bayan box. Full of data which I do not have the capability to sort out centrepiece program more than one generation old centrepiece program of the late President Corry Aquino and we do not have current, complete and updated data. In issue National security ganoon din. NEDA has been tried to be utilized. The head of NEDA is the president of the Philippines the NEDA secretary is only the director general but he holds the rank of a cabinet so if the president said I want this program to move, it will move because NEDA is the ultimate receptacle for all data related to national development economic development especially.

MB:

GH: I probably educate myself first about it and if I believe that this can be incorporated in the core advocacies that I have, I can probably help for it because under this conditions we are in a developing country I guess we have to fall back on our 2 basic stance – human resources especially young and our almost unlimited access to information. If you combine these two and adopt the slogan of the present administration convergence and PPP Public Private Partnership, maybe we can get something going. But to me the problem also is apparently we have been victimized by our own bureaucracy in the sense that there is no continuity. New president, new policy; New governor, new policy… Like President Marcos’ slogans – Isang bansa, Isang diwa, Sa Ikauunlad Ng Bayan Disiplina Ang Kailangan, New Society, even revolution…. And then President Cory came in – democratic space. Then after Cory came President Ramos – Philippines 2000… And then after President Ramos came President Erap – Para sa Mahirap, and after Erap came GMA – Strong Republic. Now we have Daang Matuwid. Basically it’s a medium term development programs because if you super impose it over the single term allowed for our Presidents then if we accept the thesis that 6 years is too long for a bad president and too short for a good president then we move into the direction of charter change. How did charter change develop a negative connotation? It happened I think during the time of President Ramos when towards the end of his term somebody asked, so this is a medium term program Philippines 2000, I supposed you have a long term program… But President Ramos has to continue as President. Ever since whenever people talk about charter change, oh it’s only designed to extend your term. I think the initial response to most of our problems is not economic but political. Now another is… can you imagine Jinneth that up to this point we have not decided where and when to bury the body of the late President Marcos? Can you imagine the amount of political baggage we carry? And I asked young legislators, young mayors, young leaders in fact and I said so we have this problem. What’s the solution? They quoted a Latin phrase, they said, “Tabula Rasa”, blank slate. The issues that already in the court with evidence on going let it be para justice will be served no. But those issues that are consequences of parties in politics, it’s about time we bury this culture of anger and hatred which apparently happen t my memory after ’86. Up to now we still bashing hated person. Okay, I am not ready to accept the proposal that all the problems we are facing now were invented by the past administration. This is all because of lack of vision, lack of political unity, lack of a comprehensive long-term national peace policy not to end only the ARMM conflict but to… you know somebody commented that we are a nation at war without sense. Now we have a Sabah situation. This is a situation or a problem that might generate the much needed unity that we need to confront a common… So I’m just putting this on the table as observation not original as my part but derived from the people I have talked to.

MB: Do you think……………..

GH: Yes… That’s why I took issue with the Freedom of Information Bill. It will strengthen. It will radically change the bureaucratic landscape. Somebody steps up to you, a public official in a public office…And it’s your duty to give the person who owns government and the information you have, give that information to him with certain exceptions. So I agree with…

MB: ……………..

GH: Ahh charter change…You have to decide what reform you want. To me personally after winning a senator for 15 years I think we can really re-engineer our bureaucracy starting with Congress. Why a bicameral Congress? Diba? Why a Senate? It does not reflect cost effectiveness in a developing country.

MB: Do you think we can do this through the legislative process?

GH: Not only a legislative process but coordination among the 3 branches of government – the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary.

MB: At this point we don’t need someone like…….…

GH: Maybe more, somebody more likely… who is by the way an adviser to the People’s Republic of China, the success story trying to help a big country. But more than that it’s a question of national priorities. It’s also a question of maybe more love of country. Our demographics kasi we seem to be more loyal to our family, to our clan, and to our province, and to our region, when it should be in the other way around. That… across the political landscape because I think in other more developed countries the contribution is not from the national government. It’s not top to bottom, it’s bottom up. Even from the revenues from the provinces, they have support, national government which is in charge only for centralized planning but execution is done at local government level.

MB: It’s nation building…

GH: Yeah… But these are all motherhood no? What do I know, former soldier, former rebel no, but I tried to educate myself and settle down at a certain core…

MB: Pwede follow up? One of our blog watch colleagues is not here but she’s asking question online. She’s asking, if you were the President right now how would you handle the Sabah situation? Then I will follow up that with my own question because I just wanted to clarify. You said earlier that this might be a time for all of us to be united against a common enemy. Who were you referring to as the enemy?

GH: You know Jen I avoid terms like enemy because it conjures images…But anyway… Let’s go back to your question no. As a constitutional principle the right to life is paramount. When one life is invoke, freedom of speech, expression and press take a… We are talking here of 800, 000 Filipinos in Sabah and 20M Filipinos in Mindanao. So initial step, I will look for the 800, 000 Filipinos. Where are they? How are they? A denial from the Malaysian government will not suffice. Second, these two issues have already developed no before it was only the issue of our legitimate claim to Sabah by the Sultanate of Sulu. Now that’s a separate issue already. The issue now is alleged, torture, violation, summary executions which might impact on the ongoing peace process and on our relationship with a neighbour in our back door Malaysia. It will impact on our foreign policy and our security policy. And to top it all, China and the Global community are watching. What would I do? First, avoid sending conflicting signals like, let’s all go home, this is not the way to do it, we emphasized the Sabah claim, but when you get home we will prepare charges against you. There were members of the Royal Army of the Sultan of Sulu, they fought between a rock and a hard place. And don’t send a… I’m not referring to anybody… don’t send a negotiator from Manila to deal with somebody who’s not even authenticated, unauthorized spokes man of the Sultan. But at all cost avoid an escalation of the ARMM conflict that has now developed into a protracted Guerrilla war. But as in the case of the Scarborough Shoal  in China, let’s not allow this to remain as a bilateral issue no because there are other countries involved. I speak from my experience 30 years ago we had a bungled Jabidah project and as a soldier I had to fight together with a lot of rebels and soldiers for 20 years.

MB: You were there when it happened?

GH: No, after. As a consequence of the fail Jabidah project, I think the estimate is about 300,000 lives were lost; rebels, soldiers, and more importantly– worst– innocent civilians. I was on it several times over there.

MB: How about the MNLF conflict?

GH: MNLF conflict? Yes, early 70s.

MB: Yung ano po? Kasi, basically your military forte has been on the security also–

GH: Yes

MB: What’s your view on national cyber security? And with it, yung cyber crime law that has been passed? Do you think it’s enough? First of all, what do you think about the cyber crime law, kasi there’s been a lot of, well, opinions about it, and what’s your opinion about this? And second of all, cyber security? About our militante? Kasi if you notice right now, there has been lot of skirmishes, sometimes if you follow, or not really if you follow, often times, what happens is that there has been waves of hacking, waves of getting information quickly across country. The latest of this is the China and the US.

GH: Well, do not—I signed the committee report and the president signed that into law, but I am happy, that when almost 20 petitions got into the supreme court, the highest court of the land decided to hold its implementation for 120 days and now it’s indefinite. I’m happy that that has happen because that’s the way democracy works, and public interest is jeopardized, and this is brought before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court rules and I understand that a series of amendments has been, are being prepared to make the law more responsive. But having said that, even that more technologically advanced countries, admit difficulty in regulating cyber terrain. In wall street journal and security sites of the US, the most powerful country in this planet can be halt, and so, I guess, we are as vulnerable. So the only way is probably to use more responsibility and help to protect our secure sites. I don’t know technically how that can be done. But I guess we will have to run it through the mill again. So that there be more inputs based on meaningful experience and we can come up in a more responsive way. But.I understand that there’s a reaction on the libel provision which send a chilling effect on the freedom of the press, freedom of expression, freedom of speech  which is a legitimate concern. That’s also the reason on the issue why when… By the way, we just happened to be the current chief of the Senate committee on the public media, what we are trying to do, I provide the counter part to Congressman Talmones for decriminalizing libel for journalist. I expanded it to decriminalizing libel, period. For everybody. Part of the agenda was to deal with the right of reply, which according to the resource person that speak and invited to that hearing, must be dealt with as a separate issue. Because there are legal and constitutional implications. So we decided to separate it. What we did is to decriminalizing libel. Before I forget, we invited some people from media, and politicians, specially elected officials are naturally afraid of the media. We ask them, the only regulatory intervention of Congress, when we talk of media is through the granting  of franchises to operate. Aside from that, we have to toss the ball back to media and ask them to organize para they can impose professional standards and ethics on their members. To do that, everyone must be a member, which is not the case. Kasi KBP, not all are members. So they are not covered by any sanction and imposition of any standards.

MB: I just want to check, before we go away from the cyber crime, would you support the legislation of the magna carta of media?

GH: Yes. But you know, I cannot allow my mouth to move faster than my brain. So, I suppose to study this and I’m a little slow on this, so I have to really understand why the highest court rule? I cannot rise higher than the legal fountain from where we all drink.

MB: Can we send you a copy of the magna carta? Because when it was filed by Senator Santiago, but if we go back to the rules of it, that was actually the first crowd-sourced draft bill. And the people who actually crowd-souced it came from the IT, Legal profession, the blogger, and this all went as a group. And basically the reason why we are strongly supporting the magna carta is because it does address cyber crime, and in fact it is more complete than the recent cyber crime law but it removes the controversial issue.

GH: I got this from my children, they are more competent. And you know, they tell me “you know papa, the social networking brings out the best and the worst in us”. From my children ito ha. So as long as I am able to confront this issue, I would support, instinctively, something like that. I don’t know if you all witnessed the impeachment proceedings, when I raised the issue of the trial inside the court room and the trial by publicity going outside. Well, even the trial inside the official court was consummated or finished, they had already reached a verdict. Now I feel very strongly about this because I raised the issue not only legal and constitutional rights, right to life but also the right to honor. When you are accused, tried and convicted by the trial of publicity, what about your children? And I am a victim of that when I was underground for seven years.

My threshold for my pain is a little high, after 65 years but not my children. Not other Filipino children. Like when they go to school, after their Lolo or their father gets tried being accused. Why naman destroy their future? Wala naman silang kinalaman sa isyung ito. That’s the only issue I had. Fair is fair. Social networking or no social networking, magna carta or no magna carta. I want to protect the children. Make them happier naman. And don’t be tried naman in the future because their Dad or Lolo has been accused of something that has not been proven through due process and the rule of law.

Now I’ll jump into what some of our bloggers might have wanted to ask, about my life as a rebel.

MB: Can I read it to you? Specifically on the life as a rebel. Because they are also listening online so to give them credit. Rihanna asks – Does he think the…he…against Cory then were mistakes or does he stance on those acts? Number 2, Kumbatyero asks, is the coup from within more effective? Another one asks, Cesoses, it is why he said the coup d’etat…the Philippine economy already on the upswings under Cory, 20 years later does he regret?

Did you order the killing of…?

GH: Okay. Well, to the question of… No. Let’s go back to the… Ofcourse we call it, what we call them military apprises but we don’t have to deal with…no. Okay, the only regret I have is I did not have other tools at my disposal. If I were a lawyer, I probably be a human rights lawyer. If I would be a businessman, if I were a businessman during that time, I probably organize a socially responsible businessman. But I was a soldier, my training was management of violence. So my only regret was the loss of lives consistent with the constitutional principle I learned. Let me go straight to the numbers. In 1987, 150 lives were lost. In 1989, 300. But I will have to ask this also para we can put it in perspective. Has anybody been held accountable for the 8000 filipinos who died after some government officials allowed the denudation of the forest in Ormoc? It was 80’s… Okay that happened in the same decade no. Have we quantify the loss of lives resulting from those who lost their jobs because during the same decade we do not have energy development policy and factories have to shut down because of lack of energy. Third issue, I remember during the same period, some farmers wanted to see their President. And what was done to them? We shot them and that is called the Mendiola massacre. I’m asking for the close of these issues so that we can really give life to the principle of consistent application of justice. But I’m not using this as an excuse. But we were granted amnesty under the administration of President Ramos. But even if the death penalty was still existent, I am willing to face the consequences. But I want the people responsible for the Ormoc, the 8000 lives no, and the Mendiola massacre and the not quantified and unqualified families who lost their jobs, to also face what is coming. Now, why did the apprising happen? The very same reason, what happened in 1986. The original plan was have a military operation against the Malacanang. Now, why am I raising this issue? Because of my perception that double or multiple standards have being applied. So if it benefits the new holders of power it is okay, but if does not it’s wrong… Now we have to clarify that also. Last issue, I don’t lay any claim to primacy in terms of who were the real heroes in 1986 – the heroes are the people, the Filipino people. But in a previous life time, I have the scars, physical scars, emotional, to show for how I fought as a soldier to preserve our democracy. And many of my brothers in arms died and top it of with the civilians who died. That’s why I have taken the entire perspective, from a soldier I am now in the position to make laws that’s responsive. But if this is going to be taken against me then it’s okay, I will face the consequences even in terms of public opinion. But I want the questions I raised answered also. If I’m going to be in front of the firing squad, I want these people responsible to be beside me – Ormoc, mendiola massacre, those who lose their jobs and who lose their children.

MB: President Cory was very popular, so anything that would go against her will look really bad, but was it about the leadership or something….?

GH: No, no. You know in 1986, the reform armed forces decided that we were going to choose the time and the place to die because the plan was to assault the Malacanang. I was going to lead 30 men against 2000 people guarding the palace and Red Capunan was going to lead 200 people against about 5000 men. So our point, even if we died in the process we would have shown our people and the world that there were still descent elements in the military. Okay, now, but the problem is we survived because people power happened. So ’87 and ’89, the apprisings were just a continuation of… We don’t fault President Cory for that, now, there is a question about our econmy was going up. We asked professor Winnie Monsod, when I was underground we arranged a meeting with her through the late Congressman Bonie, we asked her – Ma’am were we responsible for the collapse of the Philippine economy? – you know what her answer was, she said, you know you are not that good, it was already on its way down, you just accelerated the process.

No we are not looking for a reason; in fact we are not looking for the government to over throw. We’re are just asking for reforms and good government because when people claim they know about the military, my response usually is until you have seen violence at its worst not only  the violence of the ARMM conflict, until you get shot. Well, fatally you don’t need to talk about it, but in my case I survived no. I have bullet wounds and bullet scars in my body. But I’ve seen civilians died in the conflict. I saw that first hand. It’s usually soldiers who want an end to the violence because they are out there in the front lines. Weakness — too deeper forms of violence, just like hunger, like social injustice, like abuses from all sides of the ideological or even in the revolutionary spectrum.

MB: You must know other way….?

GH: We appealed to our leaders.

MB: You did?

GH: Yes

MB: But have you succeeded—- would you have set up a military coup d’etat?

GH: No.

MB: What could you have done?

GH: What we were recommending during those days it was former Administer Enrile and Ramos who became President, we were suggesting a national unification council that will be composed of former President Cory, Cardinal Sin, some credible representatives from sectors in our society. As a transition mechanism to bring us slowly back to democracy instead of throwing wide open… elections immediately which could have induced a political culture shock like what we experienced. This is just my observation, I can discuss it naman with those who… Everytime we install a leader, through people power which becoming a bad habit or through elections, after installing them, we impose the burden of governance on the people we install which is contradictory to the speeches we make about re-engineering the system that…this corruption and this…for too much practice in politics when in fact, the easy part was installing them, election or people power.

The more difficult part is after we install them, and now there is a call for more involvement in our political and national…

MB:

GH: Yes you have to be there, one way or the other. That’s why I make a lot of issue about the Freedom of Information. It will allow us to be… the FOI bill.

And if I may add, it will allow us to you know to deal with this in a more… manner. I’m still getting some…about the…who attempts based on limited information. Why naman did you do it? We have families also diba. They are vulnerable.

Kami we’re soldiers no, our job description is you must be prepared to give your life and do what is necessary.

MB:

GH: That’s moving too fast forward. Probably that’s a practical reason why people brought me to the Senate as first independent Senator in the Philippine political history.

MB: Was there a reason… because of your background?

GH: They probably said this… guy is..unsuccessfully… Let’s put him in the Senate where we can see him, and can help make better laws.

MB: Do you think your past rebel acts at that time was a source of inspiration also for all the other movements who are trying to do things outside the sort of a democratic way?

GH: If I had known then what I have known now, I would probably try to stand on higher moral and political ground by advocating peaceful, legal and constitutional means. But I cannot bring back naman the time. So now I would discourage anybody because there is so much democratic space now. Diba? And I have the benefit naman of experience and I’m still alive to talk about it no.

MB: So what would you… to the soldiers now because I’m sure you still have connections naman to the AFP, to the military… What would you tell them now?

GH: I probably go straight to them and ask, why? Why would you want to do it? Because what is the antidote to military, adventurism, coup d’etat, insurgency, secessionism, you know the antidote to these ideas is a better idea which is good government and reform. I mean, if I tell you now that the only solution is a violence, a revolution, none of you will believe me because from where you see it, the people seem to be getting the part of democracy then we have no problem. But one of you believes me even secretly then we already have two problems. That person and me. So I believe that what keep you, everybody and even government in high ground is legal, constitutional and peaceful means. But I cannot answer for the future. Somewhere than the road and this has been validated by, as you mentioned the… incident. Somebody will decide in his heart and mind that the fundamental, the root causes of social injustice, poverty, hunger, homelessness, and 80 to 100 Filipino children dying everyday have not been addressed. He or she probably decides there is no other way.

MB: Are you saying sir that even if… you fought before are still present today and you are just using other different means of…?

GH: Yes. Sabi nga nila, older and wiser. That is why I became a politician, a rebel and a soldier so that my children will not become a rebels, politician and  soldiers. That’s the same prayer and hope for other Filipino children. By the way, nobody said it would be easy. If this is a case of national impatience, especially with each other nobody said, I never heard anybody said that it’s going to be a walk in the park.

MB: Has there been any point…?

Have you disagreed in terms of Philosophy and also in terms of policy?

Before you answer that Sir may follow-up…

GH: Let’s talk with Senator Enrile. I’m independent, he belongs to political party. Taken in many occasions, opposing views but of course that is not highlighted because of the gate keepers… the media…that s the subject of some news items that you get one you actually have two, and Robin to his Batman, you know… I don’t really mind this because the reason why I have known him for half of my life is because of the mutual respect and independence we have given to each other. I’ve never into position to whisper in his ear something that did not warrant an input from me. He was arrested. I went underground for 7 years. On the landaus policy, he’s actually preparing an opposing view to some amendments. I am the principal shepherd of that bill. So it’s a misimpression that wherever he is I will be. But having said that, I still consider him as my mentor and father. Now if that is wrong, then I am… I have learned so much from him. He’s not perfect no as I am not. The reason we lasted this long is because of this space between us that does not intrude exclusively on the core values that we have

.  

MB: So what else aside from that is legend as far as you’re concerned or what have you learned about yourself just recently?

 

GH: I’m a serial two plotter whose career is a federiza antarnist by victory except in 1986. Im a very strong advocate of non violence because i know i have done many things in the name of duty.

 

MB: Why should we vote for you?

 

GH: Because I have done my part with the mandate that was given to me for the last 15 yrs as a Senator. I cannot separate this, as I’ve said earlier from my career as a rebel for 7 years and a soldier for 17 yrs. These experiences have helped me make, I think, better laws. I am way past making promises, all I need to do now is to continue the work I’ve started. I don’t want to give you a manner of self promotion but I did not only talk. I put my life in the line, and the lives of those I hold dear over and over and over again. So I’m way beyond rhetoric also. If it serves to my mind and my heart public interest, not for anybody else but for the next generation of Filipinos. And I need a stand on their record in this record. I will accept the verdict of the Filipino people. No if’s and but’s. Like a good soldier, when they say “Sen. Honasan, the country cannot ask more from you.” I will salute and go home to a five children, four in-laws, three grandchildren, and one coming in July.

 

MB: In relation to my question, since you’ve said that you just wanted to continue what you’ve done… So what one law have you championed and act that you’re proudest?

 

GH: The land dues. Well, I consider it passed technically because it’s the first 30 year plan in Philippine legislative History. It will allow us to move into industrialization, determine what finite land and water resources we want for residential, industrial, agricultural, commercial, government centers, educational centers, each one to be under the Office of the President. It will outlive 5 Philippine presidents. It will be taught in schools so that our next generation of citizens and leaders will have equity in this. If I can make hear it the SOIV which is also technically passed in the Senate. And I am confident that whatever happens will get this but if you’re looking at my other sources of drive in terms of legislative records. I’m still proving the agrarian reform law which is not only the redistributing land to the poorest among the poor around agricultural sector but moving into industrialization. My own are of competence is national security and since the policy environment, and then this could coordinated with the other foreign policy or economic policy. I think what really discourages long term foreign investors is our lack of predictability. We’re full of unpleasant surprises, your president, your policy. So we’re trying to induce substance of predictability not the so-called act of money but they come in, make their past back and then pull out, which reminds me that in the recent World Bank ratings, we have dropped from 136 out of 185 countries to 138 from 2011-2012. Why? Hypo stability is highest in Asia because of the induces like registration, taxes, contracts, permits. So, I tend to put this all together, continue shepherd degrees with the natural oversight functions of the SEC. By the way, even if, not even the Senate President can guarantee the passage of the bill. It’s a collegial and consensual body. I remember the late Sen. Raul Roco, who was my seatmate, I was between him and Sen. Jun Magsaysay, sabi nya “Greg, you were elected not as soldier of lawyers or people from different professions but we’re here to vote. Kung life and death is youth. So just be sure that when you vote you are equipped with your best life because whatever the outcome is, people will suffer, people might lose their lives, people might live changed or might be divide by basic nutrition. If we make a wrong move that’s reflected in the government.

 

MB:

 

GH: I think I’ve learned so much from my experience.

 

MB:

 

GH: That’s categorically putting it, I can speak only for myself, I would advise other potential voters to think hundred times before considering other options. As I’ve said earlier, there’s so much democratic space. There’s so many other legal free school options. And I think this is a country that’s so beautiful, and we are such a good people that many of us have shown the capacity to risk everything. People look at heroism in various forms, I think more of us, individually or collectively could be more heroic than mothers who have to feed their children and work at the same time. Traffic enforcers who direct traffic and help manage traffic, rain or shine. Soldiers who risk their lives and policemen. Overseas Filipino Workers about 50million risking the uncertainty in other countries to support their family at home. We should be more viable.

 

MB:

 

GH: By making more responsive laws, like as I’ve said, Freeedom of Infromation Bill and the manuscript which would help actually, dalawang term. Solve this day to day, problems that are related to Management of traffic more basic business like food.

 

MB:

 

GH: I talk to a lot of people from other sectors and they all have an interest in comment. Sabi nila, if you look at our recent history it seems like most of the Filipinos never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. But, the other side naman is I talked to the same “This country’s so blessed that all we have to do is wake up in the morning and continue beating our economy is growing from 4 to 6%. Now can you imagine what will happen if we get our act together, reduce the political noise. Go to issues like productivity.

 

MB:

 

GH: It doesn’t happen that’s why the first comment was more appropriate. We always miss an opportunity but I guess I cannot give up on this country. We all have families, we have children, we have younger brothers and sisters. By the way, yung recent times that’s at least what I have read, heroism was not defined in. Iconic terms, heroes, by age of definition, where “any man or woman, young or old, help deal for the next generation. That has been proven time ago.

 

MB:

 

GH: When you talk on revolution kasi, the images are usually violent. Revolution denotes change, rapid change if possible but that’s going to be a consequence of the decisions that we will have to make as a people. It has to be a product of a national concensus, in which case, we’ve to look at the thresholds of democracy. That is enlightened leadership, that is characterized by the highest level of statesmanship contract to the democratic democracy that we’ve created and make these decisions faster and facilitate the implementation of these decisions that will refect. So when talking of many variables, yung natives natin, that’s going to be a timeline. And of course it threshold that for what we’ll be required to implement this change. I think it should stop with the paradigm that when we say revolution it connotes violence. That’s I think a heal of past to pause, precisely of Information Technology. We can get to more people faster during this millenium. And I think that should be harness for the good of our people. I think in the political, economic, social and even ideological landscape has changed. But the problem kasi is we equate noise with productivity and work. The noisier you are, you believe that people will get the impression that you work really hard, no. You can work quietly just like what you’re doing but you’re reaching out to minds and hearts of our people. I just want to tend to disagree that when you say revolution, it connotes a violent arm, kaakibat. That’s the traditional methodology. I think in that we are gathering options now.

 

MB:

 

GH: The arm component was generated by youth- Information Technology, but the arm component was only used for psychological purposes, to generate the leverage so that it woulbe hereditary to your both sides, politically and in terms of military capability. That was the source of leverage because you can’t use words only, it must be backed up by some degree of force from the threat of source. It has looped into more peaceful direction despite the occasional lapses of violence.

 

MB:

 

GH: Both because my job description is a general security officer. I was not a police investigator. My duty was to secure the minister but I am confident of one thing, that the son had nothing to do with the death of the reported girl friend of his sister. I know because I can account for the time I was there but I do not enter the room to look at evidence that’s not supposed to be tasked. Now whatever conflicts there are about the version of Senate President Enrile and Jackie is outside my prerogative and my capability to resolve. As far as I am concerned, I protect the girl and was still alive, all members of the family. So I did my job. It was not my job to look for evidence and find out who did. But one thing I am sure, I can account for all members of their family. And none of them were nowhere near the so-called scene of the crime.

 

MB: But who were you with before the crime happened?

 

GH: Jackie and the legislative of the crime. In fact I was there during the time to accompany them and I did my job up to a certain time until the investigators were supposed to go back. Whatever these conflicts are, that’s beyond my capability to resolve.

 

MB: What can you do Mr. Honasan about our education system that led to the death of a UP student in Manila?

 

GH: My impression was on the limited information that I got is that it is a plain and simple tuition fee issue. There are other valuables to be considered, like the capability of a family to a psychological make-up of the student and I don’t have enough to make a judgement but I would boost the rationalization of the tuition system, make this affordable so that one less source of stress especially for students who have to rely in the State Universities. And I’m saying this as a law maker, I’m not saying this as a social science teacher or as a police investigator. I’m just making this judgement based on what I’ve read. On the tuition itself. This one variable, make the tuition fee’s more affordable because a lot of poor families send their children to State Universities precisely because of the affordability of tuition fees. Now if this is the factor that lead to this unfortunate incident, I think we have to put this altogether, para we can decide what policy decision to work on.

 

MB: Did you have a nutrition platform before? If you did, what were the appropriate actions you’ve done?

 

GH: Called the attention of NEDA, the Dept. of Science and Technology, and I’ve done this for the lasy five years and I think they’ve acted and every budget deliberation were asked the same questions.

 

MB: Was it a bill?

 

GH: No, it’s an initiative to encourage the appropriate departments to coordinate. By the way, we have some basis, we tried to look at the Brazilian model in 2003, the former president decided that every Brazilian will eat three times a day. Now, it’s a woman, Pres. Vilma Rosette, you know what the problem is in Brazilians now? Obesity. So, from three times a day to obesity. Brazil is fastest country in responding to poverty, they’ve also adapted these 100km principle where one village produces food. 30% of which are applied to schools within a 100 km radius. Based on what I know at the moment, I think we have reached the treasure to globalization. I think telling comment is that speech delivered to audience is developing countries will produce what they eat and they don’t eat what they produce. This is a sad commentary only about globalization. I think that’s the disadvantage of developing countries precisely that’s why I think the movement is now back in the Philippines. And I think we’re equipped to do that. Our demographics, indicate this only need at the moment. Some political will, some sense of national priority, some coordination, more focus on our most important, precious and strategic resource, renewable resource, which is our children.

 

MB: How do you assess the performance of many legislators?

 

GH: They seem to be holding their own but I would like to see more of them contribute in whatever capacity to make sure building without distinction anymore between former soldiers, lawyers, entertainers. I think our basis for standardizing the requirement for public service would be where our moral compass is not in our brain which is very susceptible to what we hear, what we see but our hearts is where our moral compass is.

 

MB: What kind of music you listen this recently ehich suits your personality?

 

GH: I listen to music performed by my children. I think this is a blessing to me. Me eldest son, Eric, will be having his first baby this July after 6 years of marriage. My 2nd son is married to Marivic. My son is an artist. He used to perform, to write, to compose, and to arrange. They have two children, my 1st two grandchildren.

 

MB: What is the legislative agenda for the youth that we can hold in up to?

 

GH: I want to start where it should be started, so that we’ll cover not only the youth but their parents as well. A straight path will not suffice what we need. I’m still independent so going back to daang matuwid, I think daang matuwid should have electricity, source of power, reasonable vices, 2 cabinet secretaries. More job, more foods on the table.

 

MB: What can you do to improve this kind of living condition?

 

GH: The AFP, the first thing you have to do, is modernize our way of thinking. It has to be driven by a clear national security policy, that would be converted into marching offers. For how our soldiers will be quartered, how they will move, communicate in this necessary issue. That is my satarting point. Of course, their salaries must be not only competitive but realistic.

 

MB: If you were to pick one candidate you’d want to be engaged with in everything, who would it be?

 

GH: All 32 of them because all the candidates, I think, are qualified. I’m not all 32, I’m excluding myself because I don’t want to be presumptuous. I’m not saying that you have to go beyond making promises where you only need to validate is you’ll keep your promise, it’ll put you in the Senate. That should make us a little distinct in the sense that I am not making any new promises, I just wnat to continue. So if they’re talking about record, performance, acting beyond the rhetoric and the promises and the speeches. I will stand by my record. So I cannot single out any candidate because maybe others would be driven by different standards. As I’ve said earlier, strategic, renewable resource out there.

 

MB: If you will to rate the present Senate in terms of performance, on scale of 10-1, what will be the highest?

 

GH: Despite the perceptions of personality conflicts, I’ll give it a rating of 8. We have a good output. Of course, what was highlightes in the news was the personality conflicts. Each and everyone of them tried their best, participatedn despite the perceptions.

 

Disclosure: Blog Watch does not receive any compensation or payment in cash or in kind for any of our interviews and social media coverage.

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado is a Content Strategist with over 13 years experience in blogging, content management, citizen advocacy and media literacy and over 23 years in web development. Otherwise known as @MomBlogger on social media, she believes in making a difference in the lives of her children by advocating social change for social good.

She is a co-founder and a member of the editorial board of Blog Watch . She is a resource speaker on media literacy, social media , blogging, digital citizenship, good governance, transparency, parenting, women’s rights and wellness, and cyber safety.

Her personal blogs such as aboutmyrecovery.com (parenting) , pinoyfoodblog.com (recipes), techiegadgets.com (gadgets) and beautyoverfifty.net (lifestyle), benguetarabica.coffee keep her busy outside of Blog Watch.

Disclosure:

I am an advocate. I am NOT neutral. I will NOT give social media mileage to members of political clans, epal, a previous candidate for the same position and those I believe are a waste of taxpayers’ money.

I do not support or belong to any political party.

She was a Senior Consultant for ALL media engagements for the PCOO-led Committee on Media Affairs & Strategic Communications (CMASC) under the ASEAN 2017 National Organizing Council from January 4 -July 5, 2017. Having been an ASEAN advocate since 2011, she has written extensively about the benefits of the ASEAN community and as a region of opportunities on Blog Watch and aboutmyrecovery.com.

Organization affiliation includes Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation

Updated Juky 15, 2019

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