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Asec or blogger? Choose only one, Nancy Binay tells Mocha Uson

Camille Elemia
Senator Nancy Binay reminds Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson that all government officials are bound by the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees

MANILA, Philippines – Decide if you want to be a blogger or a government official.

Senator Nancy Binay tossed the choice to Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, who is accused of spreading fake news through her popular blog, during a Senate hearing on fake news on Wednesday, October 4.

During the hearing, Uson insisted that her blog is her own account and not under the government. She also said that the rules of fairness do not apply to her, as she is a blogger and not a journalist.

Binay then reiterated her observation that Uson could no longer separate her private affairs with her government duties, citing Republic Act Number 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

“Madame chair, for clarification na lang (just for clarification). Since we’re all government officials, we are bound by RA 6713 and under Section 4. Nakasulat doon (it’s written there that) we cannot use the excuse of doing things in our capacity as private individuals,” Binay said.

So parang malinaw na malinaw na at this point in time, di mo na puwedeng ihiwalay ‘yung pagiging blogger mo sa pagiging Asec. So I guess, malinaw na talaga. Baka it’s high time to decide kung gusto mo maging blogger o kung gusto mo maging Asec,” Binay added.

(So it’s very clear that at this point in time, you can no longer separate being a blogger to being an assistant secretary. So I guess, it’s very clear. Maybe it’s high time to decide if you want to be a blogger or you want to be an assistant secretary.)

Uson responded by saying she was just exercising her “right to freedom of expression,” just like any individual. 

Yung pagb-blogging ko po (In blogging), I’m just exercising my right to freedom of expression or speech. At lahat naman po tayo may kalayaang ihayag ang sarili (And we all have the freedom to express ourselves),” Uson said.

During the hearing, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) sought to distance itself from some of the contents of the blog of Uson, who is assistant secretary in charge of social media. Malacañang consultant and suspended lawyer Trixie Cruz Angeles also admitted before senators that part of her job is to “feed” information for Uson’s propaganda blog.

PCOO Undersecretary Marie Banaag told the Senate panel that the PCOO is not associated with Uson’s posts about opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s supposed offshore accounts. Trillanes filed criminal and administrative complaints against Uson over the post.

“If I may comment on Asec Mocha’s status. As reiterated, Asec Mocha’s blog is personal to her. When Senator Trillanes filed a case against Asec Mocha, it was not the PCOO. She will always be liable to whatever contents or posts [it] would have,” Banaag said.

On Wednesday, Uson also claimed she is a “victim of fake news” despite being caught sharing inaccurate and misleading information on her page several times. – Rappler.com

 

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com