Ex-rebel ‘Gringo’ still regarded as a terrorist by US

Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network, The Straits Times, 3 August 2000

MANILA—He may now be a senator, but former military rebel Gregorio Honasan, also known as Gringo, is still considered a terrorist by the US.

In a speech on Tuesday, Senator Aquilino Pimentel took up the cudgels for his colleague, Senator Honasan, who once led some of the destructive coup attempts against the administration of President Corazon Aquino.

It has been nearly six years since Mr Honasan, former leader of the Reform the Armed Forces (RAM) Movement that later reincarnated into the Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa, went mainstream.

According to Mr Pimentel, once a member of the Aquino Cabinet, the US government still views Mr Honasan as a fugitive, or, more seriously, as an international terrorist who requires heavy interrogation each time he sets foot on American soil. Mr Pimentel said the US Embassy in Manila had issued a visa to Mr Honasan allegedly coded in numbers classifying him as an international terrorist.

Mr Honasan's RAM led the reformist military officers who helped install Mrs Aquino in a bloodless coup in 1986 but, disgruntled by the way she ran the country, the group launched at least two of the six coup attempts against her administration in August 1987 and in December 1989.

Mr Honasan went into hiding after the 1989 failed putsch and was charged with rebellion.

He rejoined the mainstream after availing himself of the amnesty offer made by Mrs Aquino's successor, General Fidel Ramos.

Mr Pimentel said that the treatment given to the senator demeans the value of a diplomatic passport.