The Soldier, the Rebel, the Revolutionary Gringo Honasan

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Sitting across the table of this man might actually get someone starstrucked, feared, proud, or curious. I've had the privilege of interviewing him a couple of years ago when he ran for Senator and we got to know him a little more personal that time. Today, we heard he was running for the second highest position in the land and I really wanted to know of all people, he was running with Binay, a question that resonated in the room but most people were afraid to ask. And so we did.

He knew since day 1 that  he would probably end up just answering that same question and defend the current vice president each time he's in the pedestal. In the beginning he wasn't really keen on being the nominee but in the hierarchy inside the UNO party just had him next in line. During the search, he was asked and felt a little hesitant. The Vice President position wasn't really a joke for him, it was a big undertaking and during the previous interviews, we felt that he wanted to spend more of his years less in the public eye and office, but in the arms of the most important people in his life... his family, his kids and grand children.

When asked why Binay, he said "I've gone against 3 Presidents, I was a soldier and didn't know what to do... but this coming elections, after 42 years, I know exactly what to do. I believe in the platform and program of the Vice President. I want him to be judged through due process and by applying the rule of law, in the proper courts. I know the standards are high with public officials, before public opinion renders judgement, I've gone out of the system in the past to solve problems because laws were not being followed. That's mob rule, that's not freedom, if that's the case, why don't we all just abolish the judiciary and close law schools... and remove the profession and practice of law, that's a huge saving in the budget. Let's all just go to MOA, Luneta or Araneta Coliseum and just raise hands if we want to choose who's guilty or not. Let's decide by consensus, referendum if necessary, but if we do not want things like that, let's all go back to the rule of law. It takes time, it takes effort, but let's not make that an excuse for trial by publicity. 

I've been a victim of that, like the PDAF issue. The amounts are ridiculous that I already know it's already partisan politics in the beginning. Corruption is serious, the issue of corruption must be met from the head, it's as old as mankind.What's happening now is a breakdown in control mechanisms, this is why there are tons of people who abuse it. I am not the one who will risk 42 years of public service, risking my life, my family, my honor, my future for 1.7 Million pesos. I could have easily just borrowed that money from my compadres, that's just money to buy a high end Innova. Would I gamble everything for that? Well, I guess it just comes with the territory. I've already said, until proven otherwise, I have full confidence in our justice system , again until proven otherwise."

" I don't want to be melodramatic, I was praying hard to communicate to you what this is all about. I'm a senior citizen, this is not about you or me, but the future of the country. I was a very reluctant candidate, because after all from the little you know about me, I was a soldier for 17 years. The starch in my body, my mind, my heart is to show for it. I think you know that I was a military rebel also, depending on what information you got, I can account for 1986, next month is the historic EDSA People Power revolution, and this is my 18th year being a Senator of the republic. Modesty aside, when I first ran in 1995 and won, we became the first truly independent candidate to win in the national Senatorial elections but I guess there are valid reasons for that. I think the public has a hand in that, instead of trying unsuccessfully trying to overthrow the government, they put me in the Senate and see how I can help make laws reforming society and government from the inside instead of outside the system. That's one perspective. "

"I've been called a coup plotter, a power grabber, self righteous messiah, but one thing that can't be taken away from me and my group is the consistency of our struggle. In 1986, we didn't break away from the military against Marcos, we broke away as a movement for the government. In other words, the one we're doing is systemic changes and not just changes in personality. So that's the other reason I have decided to run for the second highest position in the land. Because this would be the last time I would stand in the national platform and say to those who were born and not born during that time that when the Filipino people get together with their soldiers, under moral leadership, change is possible. Systemic changes and re-engineering of the society and government can actually happen and take advantage to tell our people how change takes place. 

Second, I decided to run because I am the Vice President of UNA. The party I am leading and helping organize after running in 4 recent national elections as an independent. I was looking forward at retiring in 2019, when VP Binay was high in surveys, there were tons of VP's that wanted to be his running mate and I think that's how the law of nature works. The nature of politics is that when he was high as 40% there were tons of them who wanted to run with him including a whole senatorial lineup. One year after the senate investigations, he was in a bump and everyone was gone. One Sunday morning as the executive committee was meeting, they just said "Senator Honasan, what you you think?" I laughed and I said "What do I think of what?" they said "Maybe you can run for Vice President" and I replied "I told my family that in 2019, my 4th term ends..." and I told them that I would be with my family that whole time, 17 years as soldier, 7 years as a rebel and 18 years as a Senator, that's 42 years of public service already I was thinking the country wouldn't ask more from me."

"I had to confront that issue with my family and explain to them, even my youngest daughter. She cried and said that when she was born I wasn't there, when she was christened I wasn't there, when she graduated from High School I wasn't there, on her debut I wasn't there. She's only had these past few years to make me her friend, so I had all that against me. I told her I'm a good soldier, I don't expect her to embrace this decision but asked her to try and understand. She told me they wouldn't be very supportive, we don't agree, but once you run and whatever result it may be, just come back to us alive. They told me to come home and never come back to it. They wanted me to make more time to enjoy my 5 grand children. That was the first situation, second I told my party that I don't have star complex, I have no ego to contend with if I'm the last choice or just a prop, we cannot afford ego with our leaders. I want to feel that I'm not just a wallflower, give me the moral, the logistical support, the prayers, that will allow me to wage a national campaign, and put anybody in front of me and I'll beat them.

Both of these were met, and I'm a good soldier, I wouldn't just leave anyone in the air like the others. I know the feeling, I'm always independent. In 1995 I was almost declared as a nuisance candidate, everyone had a negative feeling, but I had 9,000 volunteers, an army. I landed number 9, I did it again in 2001 to fill up the vacancy of former Senator Fernan. I was jailed and accused by the administration then of inspiring the Oakwood Mutiny. That I did a lot to encourage then Colonel Trillanes. I was only given a few weeks to campaign, and I won, landed number 10. The last election I was number 13, in a convincing margin. This is about your future and the problems of our country are serious, and it needs serious answers.

"I suppose I know that all of you are younger, a generation apart, you are the future. But you are your own future, we can only show you by example so you could be dependable. I do that for your generation and my own children, the changes must happen between elections, it will be given to you by UNA, not just the Vice President Binay or any personality. I want to help a party that will organize and present a platform for the future characterized by party discipline. Actually I don't think we even have a party right now, you name me a party supporting this or that. If our candidates do not make these changes between elections, people will have national impatience, and go into national self help. If you don't want to do these changes, the people will do it and call it People Power. There are a lot who say people are already tired of doing it, maybe, and now I ask for your help and your precious time to take it out there."

He adds "I'm not a techie, winning is secondary, I want to promote unity after May, develop a common national agenda that will be characterized by a system of priorities. I am looking forward to meet other candidates from other parties while it's still fluid so we can talk about what to do after the elections. We don't know yet who will win, so it's better to talk about it now. The other difficult way to to force your candidate to win by cheating, this country would become ungovernable, this country is such a beautiful one, any thinking sector that I've talked with said we know how blessed our country is because we just wake up and see we're growing 6-8% GDP... can you just imagine how bigger that could be if we all get our act together? The potential if we can hammer out a long term economic policy, a long term foreign policy, a long term security policy, how pivotal, how strategic, how we can develop issues like poverty, hunger, ignorance, health, security, that's what we're facing right now. That's why in May, if the elections do not warrant clean results, then I'm afraid things will become worst before they become better. That's why I'm asking for your help not for my candidacy but to find that Vice Presidential candidate that's for the country, for people to make an rational, intelligent, informed decisions based on facts and not on perception."    

I told him point blank that I didn't have any Vice Presidential candidate yet in mind and he didn't force me to vote for him. He's got a stellar number of laws passed which he authored, co-sponsored and supported during his term. He's also a good man, I can see it in his eyes when he talks to me and I can feel how sincere he was to give public service a priority when he had to. I'm not in any way shape or form endorsing him, but he's already proven to be a good choice. Choice, we need tons of that. He also emphasized the need for rational informed decisions instead of bloating out his accomplishments during our interview. That to me tells a lot. Make sure you read up and learn about the one you're voting because there's a lot on the line. It's our country and our future, he's right.

For more information about him:
Gringo Honasan for Vice President
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