MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Give the topic of federalism a rest.
This was Consultative Committee (Con-Com) spokesman Ding Generoso's request to Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson after she posted a video of a lewd jingle and dance about federalism.
"I think for now she could lie low.... Maybe give the issue a rest and see what can be done in the future," Generoso told Rappler in a sit-down interview on Monday, August 6.
Generoso, who was the one who first suggested tapping Uson to help promote federalism, called the federalism jingle and dance performed by Uson's co-host "unfortunate."
"It's rather unfortunate that something like this would come out. It's something that I wouldn't want to put [on] the internet.... This type of presentation is definitely not the type that I, having been a journalist myself, would be happy about," he said.
Up to PCOO
Asked about Uson's status in the information drive, Generoso said he would leave it to the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) to decide. The PCOO is just one of the many agencies tasked to help with promoting federalism after the Con-Com submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte and Congress their proposed federal constitution.
However, Generoso said he can't stop Uson from posting about federalism, whether or not the content harms the Con-Com.
"I'm not totally saying that she should not. Nobody can really stop her from talking about it. It's all her decision also whether to talk about it or not. We have freedom of expression," he said.
Has involving Uson's name with federalism been worth it after the backlash from the lewd jingle?
"In a way there are positive outcomes like, for example, people are now talking about federalism," said Generoso.
On Monday morning, the words "federalism" and "Mocha Uson" were trending on Twitter.
If Uson's video accomplished one thing, it was to raise awareness about even just the term "federalism," said an upbeat Generoso.
"Before, the surveys said only 3 out of 10 Filipinos have heard of the word federalism. Now, probably there are 5 out of 10. Maybe it is associated with something that is not really that positive but still, in an advocacy campaign, this is how I look at it. There are levels you have to hurdle. The first level is plain awareness," said the spokesman.
Info drive still a go
However, moving forward, Generoso said he would most likely require Uson to first show him all materials on the Con-Com draft constitution before publicizing them.
"I should see everything. At the very least, I should see if the material is in comformity with the content, with the cause of federalism," he said.
The information drive will still push through despite the controversy, with Generoso suggesting 30- to 60-second videos to simplify federalism and the draft charter.
He also wants a "social media page on federalism" in order to reach the many Filipinos active online.
PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar on Monday blamed Generoso for supposedly bypassing him by speaking directly with Uson about the federalism information drive.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea himself is supposedly annoyed by Uson being associated with the campaign when there has been no official designation about her role in it.
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 email@example.com.