MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) urged the government to "take action" against Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson and blogger Drew Olivar for mocking the deaf community and Filipino sign language.
"The De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde in support of the Philippine deaf community condemns the behavior and actions of Mr Andrew Olivar and PCOO Assistant Secretary Margaux Justiniano 'Mocha' Uson in the video posted on the Mocha Uson Facebook page on September 4, 2018," DLS-CSB president Brother Dennis Magbanua said in a statement on Wednesday, September 19.
"We call on the government to take action against Mr Olivar and Asec Uson, and impose appropriate penalties as provided by law," Magbanua added.
Uson last week shared a video on her Facebook account which shows Olivar mimicking sign language and making sounds as if imitating the deaf. Uson could be heard laughing in the background.
Magbanua said Uson's actions were "unbecoming of a government official," and contrary to what is provided under Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
"We urge this government to consider the removal of Asec Uson," Magbanua said.
DLS-CSB also urged radio station DWIZ, where Uson and Olivar have a show, "to enforce values of truth, respect, and decency in broadcasting not just from their program hosts but from their guests as well."
'Very offensive, disrespectful'
"We in the Benildean community find their actions very offensive and disrespectful to the Filipino deaf community," the DLS-CSB president said.
Magbanua added that the acts of Uson and Olivar were also in "clear violation" of Republic Act No. 9442 "which penalizes verbal, non-verbal ridicule and vilification against persons with disability."
He also cited the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to which the Philippines is a signatory.
"The mimicry of sign language and or the deaf's voice, as well as the statements of incitement and insult from a government official and a blogger, are definitely discriminating agains the deaf, their culture, and language," Magbanua said.
"The De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, as an inclusive education institution that houses the School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies and the Benilde Deaf School, remains vigilant and will continue to hold accountable those who demean and ridicule the Filipino deaf community and Filipino sign language," he added.
In a statement on Friday, September 21, Miriam College criticized the Malacañang official and Olivar for the “utter disrespect” they showed to the Filipino deaf community.
“Persons in government service and of influence should and must at all times have the highest responsibility to push for the development and inclusion of persons with disabilities in whatever capacities they hold,” Miriam College said.
It was the second time Uson and Olivar figured in a controversy involving offensive behavior. In August, a lewd federalism video posted on the Mocha Uson Blog featuring Olivar drew strong criticism from lawmakers, federalism advocates, and even fellow officials from the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
Read the full DLS-CSB statement here:
– With a report from Sofia Tomacruz/Rappler.com