‘Asec’ no more: Mocha Uson’s reasons for quitting

October 3, 2018 - 1:15 PM
Mocha Uson's selfie with OFWs
Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson poses for a selfie as she joined President Rodrigo Duterte in welcoming Overseas Filipino workers who availed of the amnesty from from Kuwait at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City on Feb. 12, 2018. (PPD/Alfred Frias)

(Updated 2:25 p.m) Margaux “Mocha” Uson announced her resignation as assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, citing difficulties with the approval of the PCOO’s budget and the controversies surrounding her work.

Uson announced her decision to vacate the post at a Senate hearing on the PCOO’s budget on Wednesday.

The actress and blogger-turned government official claimed that she would make the “sacrifice” of resigning after a number of lawmakers critical of her held back the PCOO budget for 2019.

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She explained that members of the House of the Representatives were scrutinizing the proposed P1.41 billion budget for the PCOO after she appeared in a video with supposed members of indigenous groups posted on her blog in September 2019.

A number of indigenous rights groups criticized Uson for the video, pointing out one of those people on the video was actually the leader of a paramilitary group accused of being involved in the killing of a Lumad leader in 2015.

Stephen Baldwin at Malacanan Palace
President Rodrigo Duterte poses for a selfie with Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, Hollywood actor Stephen Baldwin, and Sec. Bong Go during a courtesy call at the Grand Hyatt Hotel Manila on Aug. 1, 2018. (PPD/Toto Lozano)

The lower house also deferred deciding on the PCOO’s budget after her absence from the hearings to attend a United Nations General Assembly.

Uson, whose controversial video posts since her appointment have been scorned, related that she was told to go easy on her criticism of the opposition so as not to endanger the PCOO’s budget.

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“I have been told over the years to ignore some lawmakers so that the budget of the PCOO would not be held back. It angers me but that is the current system. It is rotten but I have to go with it,” she said in Filipino.

“I will sacrifice so that the PCOO’s budget can be passed. I have decided to resign,” she added.

Uson also said that she will continue to counter critics of President Rodrigo Duterte through her blog.

Some administration critics have questioned why she was allowed to resign—instead of being fired—despite the many complaints and criticism she received while working in the government.

Rep. Tom Villarin (Akbayan Party-list) accused Uson of lacking accountability and criticized her for refusing to appear at the budget hearing she was asked to attend.

Uson’s next moves

Since her appointment as communications assistant secretary in May 2017, Uson’s influential blog, which has around 5 million followers, has been at the center of controversies.

She was one of the pro-administration bloggers questioned at a Senate hearing on “fake news” disseminated through social media in September 2017.

READ: A ‘fake news’ list and an edit war on Mocha Uson’s Wikipedia page

PDP-Laban founder and Federalism Consultative Committee member Aquilino Pimentel Jr. in September 2018 called on Uson to “return to the entertainment industry” following the controversial “Pepedederalismo” video she released with fellow blogger Drew Olivar.

The Philippine Federation for the Deaf in the same month filed a complaint against Uson with the Office of the Ombudsman after she and Olivar appeared in a video where they were seen making fun of the deaf.

During an interview after her announcement, Uson said that she was open to running for office in the May 2019 elections. She said that she will consider her supporters’ wishes in deciding whether or not to run in the elections.

“I will take the fight to the Senate and the Congress. This is not the end,” she said.

“The ordinary citizen needs to have a voice,” she answered when asked about the topic of her entering the political arena.

She also said she will return to and focus on blogging. She added that she will use the blog as a platform to speak out against ‘trapo’ (traditional politicians) as well as those who were credit grabbers and used their offices for their personal interests.

“I have a blog where I can say what I want. This will be war,” she added.