MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – After the uproar created by various groups within and outside the University of Santo Tomas (UST) community, Palace Communications Assistant Secretary Margaux "Mocha" Uson decided to return the award given to her by the UST Alumni Association (USTAAI).
Quoting resigned association president Henry Tenedero, a report by the UST student publication The Varsitarian said Uson is returning the award to the alumni association on Wednesday, January 24.
Uson, in an interview with reporters on Wednesday morning, confirmed the award was returned to the alumni group earlier that day.
BREAKING: Palace Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson to return her award for government service from the UST Alumni Association tomorrow -resigned president Henry Tenedero pic.twitter.com/md2raaj9ht — The Varsitarian (@varsitarianust) January 23, 2018
The controversy erupted on January 21 after the UST alumni group gave the sexy-singer-turned-government-official the Thomasian Alumni Award for Government Service.
In a statement, Uson blasted what she called "bully" UST alumni who she said made the issue bigger than it is.
"Ako po ay humahanga sa UST Alumni Association Inc dahil sa kabila ng pambu-bully ng ilang Thomasians sa kanila sila ay nanindigan," she said.
(I admire the UST Alumni Association Inc because they stood their ground despite bullying by some Thomasians.)
She said she is voluntarily returning the award to the organization.
LOOK: Mocha Uson's statement on former UST Alumni Association president Henry Tenedero's resignation and plans to return her government service award. pic.twitter.com/wNgeI7WNyx — The Varsitarian (@varsitarianust) January 23, 2018
Uson said that some UST alumni reacted excessively on the issue, calling them "OA" (over-acting).
She said that there are more pressing issues that should be discussed, citing the dengue vaccination program controversy and the ongoing Mayon Volcano emergency.
"Let's all MOVE ON at tumulong tayo sa ating mga kababayan (Let's all move on and help our fellow countrymen)," Uson's statement, posted by The Varsitarian on Twitter, said.
The awarding was criticized heavily by several sectors within the UST community. The UST Central Student Council denounced the awarding, while The Varsitarian itself asked the alumni association officers to resign.
Other Thomasians were outraged by the USTAAI's decision, with alumni using social media to express their anger against and disgust for Uson, who has been accused spreading fake news and disinformation.
The university administration distanced itself from the award, saying the alumni organization is an entity separate from the centuries-old learning institution.