Gregorio "Gringo" Ballesteros Honasan II
Photo from Gringo Honasan's Facebook page.
He is a notorious for nearly toppling a presidency in the 1980s. Soon after his infamous coup d’état’, he went into hiding and capitalized on his newfound reputation to win elections. Does Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan II have a good shot at winning the Vice-Presidency later this year?
"Comfortably warm, constantly dynamic."
Honasan was described in his PMA yearbook as having "enough determination and perseverance in achieving his goals, coupled with characteristic humility and compassion for the less fortunate" — someone who is "comfortably warm and constantly dynamic". His Twitter profile projects an image of a family man, according to (“Father of five wonderful children, spoiling and doting grandfather of four grandchildren"). Honasan’s initial reluctance to pursue the vice-presidency was also reportedly due to his family’s disapproval.
Honasan is perhaps most prominently known as the soldier who attempted to overthrow the Corazon Aquino government at least twice. Some find this ironic considering the major role he played, together with figures such as Juan Ponce Enrile, in installing Aquino into power. Regardless, Honasan went on to become a Senator of the Republic. The 2016 elections will find out just how much his reputation as a ‘rebel’ has stood the test of time.
"Patas ang Laban"
Gringo Honasan's campaign platform is anchored on the slogan, “Patas ang Laban” (literally, ‘Level Playing Field’), which he says complements his running mate Jejomar Binay's platform. According to his supporters, Honasan wants people to live with dignity "by integrating poverty reduction, respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms". In his party’s mind, he is the best Vice-Presidential candidate to solve the issue of peace and order.
Other important aspects of Honasan's platform stress the achievement of ‘progress’. Progress, according to him, is achievable through socioeconomic policies that aptly respond to the needs of the people, while implementing measures to hold governing authorities accountable.
Hounded by corruption, too
Not unlike his running mate, Gringo Honasan also faces corruption allegations that threaten his candidacy. In August 2015, the Department of Justice led the filing of a corruption complaint against him for alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). In contrast to Binay’s case, however, this issue has not been as prominently featured in the media.
Another issue that still potentially hounds Honasan is his involvement in numerous coup attempts after the EDSA Revolution. More recently, he was also implicated in the attempts to overthrow the Arroyo regime, though he has denied any involvement.
Honasan has already (and historically) used these instances to project an image of bravery against ‘the powers-that-be’. Whether his personal brand of bravery will continue to strike a chord with voters, the way it did in his senatorial runs will ultimately be determined on May 9.