MANILA, Philippines – Despite repeated allegations of spreading fake news, Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson claimed she is a “victim” of such practice, too.
Uson, who has been caught spreading inaccurate and wrong information on her Facebook page and blog even after she was given a government post, made the claim during the Senate hearing on fake news on Wednesday, October 4.
“'Andito ako para suportahan ang hearing na ito dahil ako po ay biktima ng fake news (I am here to support this hearing because I am a victim of fake news),” Uson said in the hearing.
She recalled reports in maintstream media that she was appointed as a Customs consultant for social media. After the report went viral and drew flak from netizens, then Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon issued a statement denying the appointment, and said he had "confirmed" Uson's Customs post to another journalist "in jest."
"Dahil po doon, nabash ako online (Because of that, I was bashed online),” Uson said.
She also slammed the Facebook page, “Madame Claudia,” which supposedly posted a check paid by the Department of Budget and Managament to Uson.
Uson also denounced mainstream media for spreading “wrong” information against her, like when she supposedly took a selfie inside a mosque. (READ: Mocha's post on Marawi stirs controversy)
She reiterated that she did not take a selfie at the grand mosque in Marawi. Her denial was also written by the mainstream media.
A video she took at the mosque and posted on her blog showed Uson inside the mosque not wearing a hijab, as required of women entering the holy place. Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong flagged her for supposedly taking a selfie and failing to remove her boots during her visit to the Grand Islamic Mosque.
Uson said she was bashed again because of this, and that she had apologized for her act.
The Palace communications official said she attended the probe because she wants to find out who is spreading fake news.
“[Para] alamin kung sino nagpapakalat ng fake news, dapat may accountability, dapat may mukha po (To know who are spreading fake news, there should be accountability, there should be a face),” she said.
Senate public information committee chair Grace Poe then replied to Uson, “At least alam mo nararamadaman ng isang nabibiktima (At least you know what the victims feel)."
Uson has repeatedly criticized journalists, calling them "presstitutes" or journalists paid to write biased and inaccurate news.
Uson has been caught posting wrong information online. In May, she posted a photo asking for prayers for the Philippine Army which turned out to be a photo of the Honduran police. Uson defended her post, calling it "symbolism."
Uson, together with other pro-administration groups and personalities, recently posted details of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV's alleged offshore bank accounts. Trillanes disproved owning two bank accounts in Singapore by personally going to that country.
President Rodrigo Duterte later on admitted that he just "invented" those bank account numbers as "bait."
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org