The albatross around Duterte’s neck

ASSISTANT Secretary Mocha Uson is clearly unfit for public office, and the sooner the Palace realizes this and stops wasting time making excuses for her, the sooner it can get around to doing really important work that is based on facts, not the fake news she purveys.

There is a tendency among administration officials to circle the wagons around Uson, particularly since the most vocal among her critics come from the opposition. That is unfortunate because rational, right-thinking members of the administration and their supporters should realize that Uson is a liability that cheapens their own work, tarnishes their reputation and erodes their credibility.

Exhibit A is the presidential spokesman—once a credible human rights activist—who incredibly held Uson up as a model for Filipino women because she had overcome her past as a sexy dancer and a blogger dishing out sex advice to become what she is now—a foul-mouthed assistant secretary, disowned by her own alma mater and widely regarded as the queen of fake news.

This is not a title bestowed lightly, and Uson has done much—all of it verifiable—to earn her reputation.

In May 2017, when Uson was appointed assistant secretary, she called for prayers for Filipino soldiers in Marawi City, but accompanied her Facebook post with a photo of praying Honduran forces. When called out for the error, she said she never claimed that the photo was of Filipino soldiers, and used it only for “symbolism.”

In August 2017, Uson shared an article about a decorated police officer who was killed on the job and challenged Vice President Leni Robredo and opposition senators to attend his wake, too, after they commiserated with the family of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, who was killed in a police drug raid. But it turned out that the policeman in question had died a year, making it impossible for Robredo and the senators to attend his wake or funeral.

In October 2017, after Marawi was declared “liberated” from Maute group terrorists, Uson posted an image of clean city streets, claiming that Duterte’s government moved really fast and that “22 barangays were already cleaned.” It turns out that the photo was from May 25, 2017, just the third day of the Marawi siege.

In January 2018, she posted a video lambasting her critics and said they were diverting the nation’s attention from important developments such as the eruption of Mayon Volcano, but erroneously identified its location as Naga City. Such a slip might be understandable for a sexy dancer, or an ordinary blogger—but is downright embarrassing for an assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

This abbreviated list does not include false information that she spread before her appointment to the PCCO, including falsely accusing St. Scholastica’s College of forcing its students to attend a rally to protest the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos, or sharing the photo of a dead girl said to be the victim of rape by drug addicts—but which turned out to be a photo from Brazil taken in 2014.

In defending his appointment of Uson, the President said, “She’s bright, she’s articulate,” and should not be deprived of the “honors that she deserves.” He said it was his turn to believe in the likes of Uson after she and her group Mocha Girls campaigned for him for free.

The President may feel he owes Uson a debt of gratitude but the Filipino taxpayers who pay her salary certainly do not. She is not all that bright, and not even particularly articulate—unless that is the word now used to describe the gutter-level ad hominem attacks she seems to prefer.

Topics: Mocha Uson , Leni Robredo , Rodrigo Duterte , Ferdinand Marcos
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