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PCOO Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson resigns

Pia Ranada
PCOO Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson resigns
(4th UPDATE) Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson announces her resignation during the Presidential Communications Operations Office budget hearing at the Senate

MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – After a year and 5 months of government work marred by controversy, Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson has resigned.

Uson announced her resignation on Wednesday, October 3, at the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) budget hearing at the Senate.

This comes after lawmakers, citizens’ groups, and Uson’s own colleagues at the PCOO called on her to step down or for President Rodrigo Duterte to fire her.

On Tuesday, October 2, the House of Representatives once again deferred plenary deliberations on the proposed budget of the PCOO for 2019 because  Uson was still absent.

“Dahil po diyan, ako na po ang magsasakripisyo para maipasa na po ang budget ng PCOO. Ako po ay nagdesisyon na magresign na po (Because of that, I will make a sacrifice so that the PCOO would be approved. I have decided to resign,” said Uson, reading from a prepared statement.

“Para sa mga bumabatikos sa akin, ‘wag kayong magkakamaling nagtagumpay kayo (To my critics, don’t be mistaken that you have won),” she said, adding that she resigned so that there would be a “fair fight.” (READ: Mocha Uson after resignation: ‘Suntukan tayo, bakbakan tayo’)

The “last straw” for Uson had been lawmakers deferring the PCOO budget approval because of her absence. 

Uson had been repeatedly criticized for her social media posts that were inconsistent with her role as a public official in the PCOO, the primary government information dissemination arm.

Special Assistant to the President Bong Go said Duterte – who had repeatedly thumbed down earlier calls to sack the PCOO official – would accept Uson’s resignation.

“I’m sure tatanggapin naman po ng Pangulo ang kanyang resignation. Nirerespeto po naman ang kanyang pagre-resign at nagpapasalamat rin kami kay Asec. Mocha sa kanyang naging serbisyo po sa gobyernong Duterte. Naging good ally po siya,” Go said.

(I’m sure the President will accept her resignation. We respect her resignation and we thank Asec Mocha for her service to the Duterte government. She was a good ally.)

Controversies

Since her appointment in May 2017, Uson has been hounded by controversy, all thanks to her posts on her Facebook page which she uses in her government work and which catapulted her to fame during the 2016 elections when she used it to promote the candidacy of then Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Her latest blunder, posting a video where she encourages pro-Duterte blogger Drew Olivar to mockingly mimic sign language, earned her a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman for violating the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.

Before that, a lewd federalism jingle and dance, also performed by Olivar, was also slammed, even by allies of the President.

Apart from these incidents, Uson has also shared inaccurate content and information on her Facebook page, prompting opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to file criminal and administrative complaints against her before the Office of the Ombudsman. (READ: Mocha Uson: Fake news victim or fake news peddler?)

Uson had also flouted a Malacañang order when she continued to perform at casinos  with her group, Mocha Girls.

Uson’s antics has gotten the PCOO in trouble, with its chief, Secretary Martin Andanar, often called to Congress hearings to explain her acts. In late September, the approval of the PCOO’s budget was deferred because Uson was absent from the plenary hearing at a time when lawmakers wanted to question her.

Andanar has said he had no power to impose sanctions on Uson. Duterte, the appointing authority, had rejected calls to fire her,  saying he respected her freedom of expression

But critics point out that freedom of expression has limits when it harms the rights of others and when the person in question is a government official bound by the code of ethics for public service. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.