MANILA (UPDATE) - The Commission on Appointments on Wednesday confirmed the designation of former senator Gregorio Honasan as Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) secretary.
The 19-member bicameral body approved the appointment of the former rebel soldier as head of the agency in charge of the country's telecommunications infrastructure, at a time when the industry is shifting to 5G.
The Palace earlier defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointment of Honasan as DICT chief, as some observers pointed out that the department’s officials are required under the law to have at least 7 years of competence and experience in the field of information and communications technology.
Honasan took his oath of office on July 2, soon after the end of his last term in the Senate. Duterte had named him to the post in November.
Honasan said he hoped to increase the country's internet speed to 15 to 20 mbps from the current 3.5 mbps "soon" and provide free Wi-Fi hotspots "to allow the Philippines... to leapfrog into the digital age."
He said he would also encourage the entry of a fourth and fifth telco player to bring down internet charges. In November, government confirmed then Mislatel, now Dito, as the country's third telco.
In a statement, Malacañang welcomed the approval, saying it was "confident that Honasan would be able to implement the President's marching order of providing the Filipino people better connectivity."
Honasan replaced DICT officer-in-charge Eliseo Rio, who served as the head of the National Telecommunications Commission during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
With Honasan’s confirmation, all of Duterte’s Cabinet members have been approved by the CA.
- With reports from Dharel Placido and Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News