A colorful personality has evidently emerged from the Duterte administration that could rival former President ‘Noynoy’ Aquino’s sister, Kris Aquino, in her most controversial form. She is none other than Presidential Communications Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson.
There would be no need for Communications Secretary Martin Andanar to disown the blogs of Ms. Uson, if he could confidently answer first some essential questions:
1. What are the specific functions and responsibilities of Asec Uson at the PCOO?
2. Wasn’t Ms. Uson appointed to her post because of her blogging and the contribution she made during the 2016 election campaign?
Can Secretary Andanar draw a distinction between Ms. Uson and her blog? What is she without her blogs?
3. Isn’t it a key function of Ms. Uson to help sustain or expand public support online for President Rodrigo Duterte? Doesn’t that function depend on the potency and reach of her blogs and her many followers? Won’t Andanar’s disowning of Mocha’s blogs deprive her of her sword?
This questioning would not be necessary if Ms. Uson had not made herself such a figure of controversy – seemingly a government civil servant but also just a private citizen, an assiduous communicator for Malacañang and eager propagandist, an indefatigable communicator but also a very erratic one.
We must admit, until Ms. Uson surfaced on the scene, most Filipinos could not remember or recognize a more colorful personality at the Malacañang communications office. Her predecessors and colleagues were mostly conventional. Not a single communicator stood out in Noynoy Aquino’s massive and well-funded strategic communications office.
In contrast, Ms. Uson is active, omnipresent, digging her nose into every issue, and often putting a foot in her mouth.
Traditionally, the time-honored function of Malacañang communications is to disseminate information about the activities and policies of the incumbent President, and to correct misinformation or disinformation (“fake news”) that may be dished out by the opposition and critics
To be fair, Ms. Uson does not claim to be a journalist, and therefore when she ventured into this war zone, she was without the expertise and training of communications study and active work in journalism. She does not seem to possess the discipline of communicators and journalists, which include ample knowledge of subjects, disciplined research, fact-checking and self-criticism.
It is correct for Secretary Andanar to say that the blog of Asec Uson is not an official page of the PCOO and does not represent the government’s views.
But he should tell the public candidly if she was hired explicitly to promote broader mass support for the President with her millions of followers online and counter the attacks by the opposition and critics.
He should answer squarely the charge of some that Ms. Uson is a propagator of fake news. Saying that she is “only expressing her views” is a lame excuse. Ms. Uson is responsible for all her communications. Similarly, the PCOO should also be responsible when she misfires.
What is the solution to this mess? We submit that the issue should be taken to the place where it should have begun: in a clear description of her responsibilities and functions as a PCOO assistant secretary. Additionally, Mocha should be asked to memorize the code of conduct and standards of a member of the government service.
This clarification is a must because Asec Uson is “real,” she is not “fake.”