Gringo Honasan, 65, son of a military colonel, also became a military colonel himself. He graduated from the Philippine Military Academy with high honors, joined combat troops of the Philippine Army against armed Muslims and revolutionaries, and spent much of the Marcos dictatorship and a few years into the first Aquino administration’s term as a high-ranking military official.
Honasan rose to become aide-de-camp to then secretary of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile since 1974, and later became the department’s Chief of Security. Though part of the military leadership in Marcos’ dreaded martial rule, Honasan evaded peoples’ retribution when their attempted coup d’etat against Marcos, launched at the nadir of Marcos’ power, was superseded by a raging people power uprising. Not only were Honasan and his superiors, including Enrile, saved from Marcos’ tanks, they were also able to save their careers and continue with their leadership positions in the Philippine military after Marcos was ousted.
He led bloody coup d’ etats in the late 80s against what they deemed as the accommodation of “leftists” in the Cabinet of Cory Aquino. He was arrested and ‘jailed’ in a Navy ship, where he continued recruiting members for their right-wing group of soldiers called RAM.
He and at least two other military colonels were named as the commanding officers of teams of soldiers who abducted and brutally murdered labor leader Rolando Olalia and his companion Leonor Alay-ay as a prelude to a coup d’etat dubbed as “God Save the Queen.” He was pardoned for leading coup d’etats in an amnesty granted by then president Ramos (but a Supreme Court ruling said the Olalia murder was not part of the forgiven crimes).
Honasan began his senatorial career banking on his image as one of the supposed “heroes” of People Power and a reformist in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. But the reforms he had always espoused for the AFP seem more geared to making it a better killing machine of government critics and threats to the existence of this kind of government.
Honasan’s authored laws for national security, including increasing the pay and benefits of soldiers, increasing the number or percentage of generals per flag, regulating issuance and use of access devices, defining the crime of financing “terrorism,” and authorizing wiretapping, among others.
In the livelihood front, Honasan has authored or co-authored laws criticized by progressive groups, from CARPER to Oil Deregulation Law. Honasan seemed to have actively participated also in watering down the Freedom of Information Bill. Honasan has warned that information involving national security, police or military operations, foreign policy, or any sensitive information cannot be readily available to the public.
Luis Teodoro of CMFR had also warned before that Honasan may be supporting the journalists’ long-standing call to decriminalize libel, but at the same time, Honasan is pushing to make the media organizations register before the Securities and Exchange Commission.