MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III said in a radio interview on Saturday, November 3, that Senator Gregorio Honasan II may be leaving the Senate to head the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
Sotto told radio DWIZ that the number of senators "may be reduced" to 22 when the Senate resumes session in November. (READ: 10 things to know about Gringo Honasan)
"Malamang. Mga pagbalik namin, baka mabawasan kami ng isa. Pero mababawasan kami 'pagka na-approve na siya ng CA (Commission on Appointments)," Sotto said.
(Most likely. When we resume session, we may be reduced by one. But we will only be reduced when he is confirmed by the CA.)
Honasan was rumored to have been offered to head DICT. Asked if the rumors were true, Honasan said in December 2017 that "he cannot confirm nor deny."
On Saturday, Sotto confirmed that the 70-year-old senator is finally accepting the role, replacing DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr.
"Oo, nasabi na sa kanya 'yan dati. 'Tas parang drinibol niya eh, baka kailangan pa namin ng kasama sa Senado. Pero nitong huling pag-uusap, sabi niya, 'Pipirmahan ko na!'," Sotto said.
(Yes, he was already told before [about the appointment]. But he didn't go ahead with it, maybe we still needed him in the Senate. But recently when we last talked, he said, "I'll sign it already!")
Asked if Honasan is ready to lead DICT, Sotto said Honasan has been "doing his research."
The Senate President explained that an appointment while Congress is in session is considered a "regular appointment."
Under CA rules, regular appointment follows these stages: nomination by the President, issuance of consent by the CA, issuance of appointment papers by the President. Once the papers are out, only then can the appointee take his oath of office.
If the appointment is done while Congress is not in session, then it is considered as an "ad interim appointment." The appointee may immediately assume the role, and be confirmed later on.
If Honasan follows a regular appointment, Sotto said Honasan will still be able to perform his duties as a lawmaker pending his confirmation as DICT Secretary.
"'Pagka in session, nomination 'yan. (When it is in session, that's considered a nomination.) Ngayon (Now), you can still function as a legislator – if you are a legislator – until you are confirmed by the Commission of Appointments and take your oath, then you are deemed resigned," Sotto said.
Should Honasan eventually leave Senate, Sotto said it's still business as usual in the upper chamber.
Sotto said voting will not be affected, even if "they are only left with 22 senators." The Senate President explained that 13 senators are needed to reach a quorum, while a 2/3 vote needs 16.