MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang consultant and suspended lawyer Trixie Cruz Angeles admitted on Wednesday, October 4, that she helps "feed" information for the propaganda blog of Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson.
In a Senate hearing on fake news, Angeles said her job title at the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) is "social media strategist."
She said the nature of her job is as "consultant."
"Actually what we do is we assist Asec Mocha, among other things, in dealing with her social media account," Angeles explained.
"May I clarify, my position at Asec Mocha's office is not to handle her accounts but simply to feed to her priority government information that she can put out in her blog," Angeles later said.
This means a government consultant, who works in an office funded by taxpayers' money, is helping produce a personal propaganda blog that has been repeatedly accused of spreading fake news. (READ: State-sponsored hate: The rise of the pro-Duterte bloggers)
Reacting to negative feedback on Twitter, Uson also said of Angeles, "She doesn't handle my social media accounts."
"Wala pong kinalaman si Atty Trixie Cruz Angeles sa aking social media account (Atty Trixie Cruz Angeles has nothing to do with my social media account)," Uson said.
It was under oath that both Angeles and Uson made their contradicting statements – Angeles said she assists Uson in "dealing with her social media account," while Uson said Angeles had "nothing to do" with it.
Read excerpts from Wednesday's Senate hearing on fake news below:
GRACE POE: Ma'am, my question is, what is your job description now in PCOO?
TRIXIE CRUZ ANGELES: Actually what we do is we assist Asec Mocha, among other things, in dealing with her social media account.
GRACE POE: What is the goal? What are you trying to do? What are you trying to influence people with?
TRIXIE CRUZ ANGELES: Well it's not really–, actually, my real title is social media strategist. I would like to correct this one. However, the term social media influencer – well that isn't me, that would be Asec Mocha.
GRACE POE: So if you're a strategist, what is the goal of PCOO?
TRIXIE CRUZ ANGELES: The goal of PCOO is to give out government information. So things like the passing of certain laws which are necessary for us to disseminate. For example, today, the release of the postponement of barangay elections.
NANCY BINAY: Kasi nabanggit ni Ms Angeles, are you an Asec, JO (job order), consultant, so what's your item?
TRIXIE CRUZ ANGELES: I think it would be akin to consultant (or) contracted service.
NANCY BINAY: Apparently this is already an underground economy na hindi ko alam if it's a billion industry already. Siguro si Ms Angeles can shed light to us.
TRIXIE CRUZ ANGELES: Ma'am, I'm not sure about the extent. What I know is that in order to do my job, I have to talk to some of them, at least to understand what's going on, for instance, when you spot trends, et cetera, if this trend is manufactured or not. Before I continue, may I clarify, my position at Asec Mocha's office is not to handle her accounts but simply to feed to her priority government information that she can put out in her blog.
MOCHA USON: Gusto ko lang pong linawin na si Atty Trixie Cruz Angeles ay hindi po–, she doesn't handle my social media accounts, kasi po ito 'yung kumakalat ngayon sa Twitter. So wala pong kinalaman si Atty Trixie Cruz Angeles sa aking social media account. Thank you, Madame Chair.
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.