Robredo fact-checks Uson: Why let a fake news peddler get taxpayers’ money?

Mara Cepeda
Known online propagandist and OWWA official Mocha Uson falsely claims the food packs donated by the Vice President's office to the Taal victims contained only 5 pieces of pan de sal and a bottle of water

NOT FAKE NEWS. Vice President Leni Robredo gives a relief pack to a Taal Volcano evacuee in San Jose, Batangas, on January 14, 2020. Photo by Jay Ganzon/OVP

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo slammed Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Deputy Executive Director Mocha Uson for spreading false information about her office’s donation to Taal Volcano victims.

On Thursday, January 16, Robredo called out Uson for sharing an article claiming the food packs given by Robredo’s Angat Buhay anti-poverty program to the evacuees in Batangas contained only 5 pieces of pan de sal and a bottle of water. (READ: Robredo’s Angat Buhay donates food packs, face masks to Taal victims)

“Parang masyado namang petty na pag-awayan pa namin iyong laman. Pero iyong pinakapunto ko: bakit hinahayaan natin na iyong nagpapakalat ng fake news, sinusuwelduhan pa ng pamahalaan?” Robredo said in an ambush interview in Caloocan City.

(It would be too petty for us to fight over the contents of the packs. But my point here is: why let a peddler of fake news still receive salary from the government?)

“Pera natin ito. Hindi naman ito pera ng kung sinong government official. Pero para hayaan mo na pera natin iyong ginagamit para lasunin iyong isip ng ating mga kababayan, tingin ko malaking kasalanan iyon,” she added. 

(That’s our money. This isn’t the money of some government official. For us to let the people’s money be used to poison the minds of our countrymen, I think that’s a big sin.)

The Vice President also hit the OWWA deputy executive director on her personal Facebook account, posting a screenshot of Uson’s false claim. 

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Uson – a known online propagandist of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration – claimed in a Facebook post on Wednesday, January 15, that Robredo supposedly visited the evacuation centers in Batangas just for “photo ops.”

“Hindi nakapagtataka na galit na ang mga tao sa mga istilong bulok na ganito. Hindi din kasi ito ang unang pagkakataong inuna ni Leni ang pagpapa photo ops kaysa sa pagtulong sa mga biktima ng trahedya,” read Uson’s post. 

(No wonder the people are angry at this rotten style. This isn’t the first time that Leni prioritized photo ops over helping the victims of a tragedy.) 

In her post, the OWWA official shared an article by mindation.com quoting a certain social media user named Artanacla Oallop, who alleged the Vice President’s donation only consisted of bread and water. 

But Uson is wrong. Through Angat Buhay and its partner organizations, Robredo and her staff were able to distribute 2,101 food packs to residents temporarily sheltered in evacuation centers in the towns of Sta Teresita, San Jose, and Sto Tomas. 

Each food pack contained 1.5 kilos of rice, assorted canned goods, and two packs of noodles.  

The Vice President and the Angat Buhay partners also distributed 1,000 face masks to the evacuees. 

‘Insult’ to Angat Buhay volunteers

On Thursday, Robredo said Uson’s lie was an “insult” to the volunteers who helped her office repack the donations.

“Parang insulto naman ito sa dami ng taong nag-donate sa amin. In fact, noong Lunes na gabi, nagtawag kami ng volunteers. In less than an hour, ang daming dumating sa opisina na volunteers, at iyong mga volunteers iyong makakasabi kung ano iyong laman noong relief packs,” the Vice President said. 

(This is an insult to the many people who donated to my office. In fact, last Monday night, we called for volunteers. In less than an hour, a lot of volunteers arrived at our office, and they can say what’s really inside those relief packs.)

The threat of a hazardous Taal Volcano eruption remains on Thursday as “intense seismic activity” persists despite “weak emission” of ash plumes. A total of 566 volcanic earthquakes have also been recorded since 1 pm on Sunday, January 12, the day Taal started erupting. 

The eruption has so far affected at least 14,918 families or 65,184 persons in the provinces of Batangas and Cavite. – Rappler.com

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.