‘Morality, uprightness’ not considered for Mocha Uson’s award, says UST alumni head

Mara Cepeda
‘Morality, uprightness’ not considered for Mocha Uson’s award, says UST alumni head
'Ang turo kasi ng magulang ko sa akin, magmahal at magrespeto ka ng tao maging sino ka man,' says UST Alumni Association president Henry Tenedero in defending their award for Mocha Uson


MANILA, Philippines – The president of the University of Santo Tomas Alumni Association Inc (USTAAI) said the association did not consider morality nor uprightness when it gave a controversial award to Palace Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson.

USTAAI president Henry Tenedero stood by their decision to give Uson the Thomasian Alumni Award for Government Service in an interview with GMA 7’s Unang Balita on Tuesday, January 23.

‘Yong core values na nabanggit sa plaka – ‘yong competence, commitment, compassion – relative ‘yan eh. Sino ang puwede magsabi na walang competence? Kasi noong kino-consider namin [kung sino ang bibigyan ng award], sa totoo lang, hindi na namin tiningnan ‘yong morality, uprightness,” he said.

Uson earned a degree in medical technology from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), then attended medical school in the same university for two years before dropping out to pursue a career in the music industry.

She gained popularity as the leader of the Mocha Girls, an all-female dance group. She previously gave sex tips in a series of online videos.

Uson is a rabid supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte. She is known to spread pro-government propaganda and false information against Duterte’s critics online.

But Tenedero said he was taught to respect people regardless of their background. 

Ang turo kasi ng magulang ko sa akin, magmahal at magrespeto ka ng tao maging sino ka man. ‘Wag mo mamahalin ang taong matalino, mataas ang IQ, magaling etc. At kapag ako ay nagsisimba, ‘yan din ang naririnig ko sa mga homily o sermon ng mga pari na kailangan love thy neighbor,” he explained.

Other Thomasians were outraged by the the USTAAI’s decision to award Uson, with alumni using social media to express their anger and disgust against the spreader of fake news. 

The UST Central Student Council denounced the award. UST’s official publication The Varsitarian even asked officers of the USTAAI to resign.

Henedero said he is hurt over the negative reaction his association has been getting over their award to Uson.

To be honest, masakit sapagkat ilang beses po ako na-interview ng Varsitarian during the day and then kahapon meron pa ring pumunta sa akin. Pinilit kong in-explain ang mga proseso. Hindi ko alam kung bakit kailangan nila sabihin iyong mga ganoong bagay, katangahan, koruspyon, at lahat,” he said.  

(To be honest, it hurts because The Varsitarian interview me repeatedly. I kept on explaining the process. I don’t know why they had to say those things, the one about stupidity, corruption, and everything else. 

In its editorial, The Varsitarian said that by giving Uson the controversial award, the USTAAI “has manifested banality of evil and perpetuated a libel on UST.”

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said Uson’s award “validates” her appointment in government. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.