MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang will not raise any objections if the Office of the Ombudsman decides to dismiss Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson over a complaint filed by the Philippine Federation of the Deaf (PFD) for making fun of sign language.
"'Pag sinabi ng Ombudsman sibakin, hindi po natin tututulan 'yan (If the Ombudsman says she should be dismissed, we won't object to that)," said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque in a Palace news briefing on Thursday, September 20.
Malacañang, he said, would respect the Ombudsman's decision on Uson. Ombudsman Samuel Martires, like Uson, is an appointee of President Duterte's.
"Let's wait for decision of the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman can already order the dismissal of anyone in government because it is both an adminsitrative and criminal case. Igagalang lang po ng Palasyo ang proseso (The Palace will just respect the process)," he said.
But will President Rodrigo Duterte act on his own and fire Uson, as De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, urged him to do?
"As of now, no," said Roque.
The PFD has accused Uson of violating the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons which prohibits the public ridicule and vilification of persons with disabilities. PFD officials also said she breached the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and the Anti-Cybercrime law. (WATCH: Deaf employee reacts to Mocha Uson and Drew Olivar’s lewd sign language video)
Uson posted a video on Facebook of pro-Duterte blogger Drew OIivar mimicking sign language and making sounds as if imitating the deaf, while the Palace official could be heard laughing in the background. (READ: Nancy Binay to Mocha Uson: It's a crime to make fun of PWDs)
The two have offered their apologies but the deaf community wants them punished for their offensive actions.
The controversy comes at the heels of a lewd federalism jingle performed by Olivar upon Uson's encouragement, a video of which was posted on her Facebook page which she also uses in her role as communications assistant secretary.
Uson received a memo for this from superiors in the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) reminding her to observe the code of ethics for government officials and personnel.
Many, including lawmakers, have pointed out that there appeared to be no effort in government to hold her accountable for actions that have reflected badly on public service. (READ: Is Mocha Uson above reprimand?)
The camp of PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar has said that Andanar has no power to sanction her as this power is in the hands of Duterte alone, being the appointing authority. (READ: Zarate reminds Andanar: Mocha Uson paid with public funds)
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.