Like a “good soldier,” United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) Vice Presidential bet Senator Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Ballesteros Honasan II is running for the second highest post in the land to support party mate Vice President Jejomar Binay, even against his family’s wishes
“It’s the honorable thing to do,” he said in a blogger conference in February 2016.
But even with such reluctance, Honasan said he has more than enough experience under his belt to vie for the title.
Among the vice presidential candidates, he has the longest exposure to the public consciousness: 18 years as a senator, 17 years in the military, and seven years as a rebel.
Honasan served as the aide-de-camp of then-defense minister and now Senator Juan Ponce Enrile—a father figure to the bemoustached senator.
A member of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM),he helped Enrile plan a mutiny against the dictator and late President Ferdinand Marcos. Though foiled, it still helped launch the EDSA People Power Revolution, toppling the Marcos rule and installing Corazon “Cory” Aquino as the country’s first woman president.
But Honasan also rebelled against Aquino, his then commander-in-chief, leading two unsuccessful coup attempts against her administration. He was imprisoned in a ship moored in Manila Bay but escaped later.
He also went underground under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration, when he was accused of masterminding the failed 2003 Oakwood mutiny that was led by young officers such as Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV, who is also running for vice president this May 9 elections.
In 1995 he was elected senator, “the first truly independent candidate in Philippine political history to win in national elections,” as cited on his website. He was re-elected in 2001 andin 2007.
Still, he believes his winning qualification is his role as a family man.
“Pero ang pinakamahalaga kong qualification: ako ay isang mabuting padre de pamilya at asawa, at isang mabuting ama. Kapag tinanong niyo ang mga apo ko, ako ang the best na lolo,” Honasan said in his closing statement during the first Vice Presidential debate on April 10, at the University of Santo Tomas.
(But my most important qualification is: I’m a good father and husband. If you ask my grandchildren, they will tell you that I’m the best grandfather.)
This emphasis on family values aptly coincides with his platform: holistic security.
Honasan added men of all statures go home to their respective families, and the Philippines need a home that is safe and secure. He goes on to the basics: from safety, food,and shelter to foreign and economic policies.
Under his time as legislator, he has authored or co-authored several bills dedicated to such, among them the Clean Air Act of 1999; Clean Water Act; the National Security Policy; Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act of 2009; the Solid Waste Management Act of 2000; and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms Law (CARPER), among others.
But how will he do it?
His latest TV ad shows a suspected criminal taking a beating from the authorities, and Honasan said: “Taking all criminals will not end crime because its root cause is poverty. To end crime, let’s end poverty,” the senator said in Filipino.
The commercial seems to take a swipe on leading presidential candidate (based on latest polls by Social Weather Stations) Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte who is known for his notoriety and promises to end crime in six months if elected.
But Honasan had earlier cleared such claims as candidates are supposed to tackle issues and not attack one another.
“The job of leaders, candidates especially presidential and vice presidential candidates, is to educate the people, to teach them what they should stop dreaming about and to start praying hard and working hard for,” he said in a TV interview with ABS-CBN news anchor Karen Davila in April.
This cool and focused demeanor was in full effect in the first vice presidential debates, especially when his fellow candidate Trillanes asked him on his alleged corrupt activities. Instead of partaking on the heated arguments, he insisted on keeping an objective local media as there are many “corrupt elements” in the industry.
“Politicians get a trial by publicity, rendering our courts irrelevant. When your name gets printed on the front page, you’re done. It affects public leaders and their families as well,” Honasan said.
Still in the cellar
Honasan runs with the slogan “Patas ang Laban” or level playing field, but his standing on polls have been consistently weak, staying at the cellar with mere 5%.
But like a soldier, the senator maintains he has the capabilities to be the country’s co-pilot come May 9.
“I’m human. I want to win…. What matters, this is not a 100-meter dash. This is a marathon. What matters is that one-inch before the finish line tape, that’s what I’m aiming for,” Honasan said.
Entrepreneur Philippines profiles the leading presidential, vice presidential, and senatorial candidates in the upcoming May 9, 2016 elections. We aim to help voters know these candidates through their platforms focusing on the economy, entrepreneurship, tax reform.
Elyssa Christine Lopez is entrepreneur.com.ph's editorial assistant/writer. Follow her on Twitter@elyssalopz.