Villarin to return UST alumni award in protest of Mocha Uson’s

MANILA, Philippines – A congressman who was honored by the University of Santo Tomas Alumni Association Incoporated (UAAI) for public service said Monday night, January 22, he would be returning the award. 

Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin, who received the Thomasian in Government Service Award on Sunday along with a few other government officials, questioned the qualifications of one of the awardees, Palace Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, whom he said had "corrupted the values that Thomasians hold dear."

"I am returning the  given to me last January 21 by the UST Alumni Association because I refuse to buy into their recent justification for awarding Mocha Uson that one only needed to be a graduate of our Alma Mater, and be part of government. If that were true, then all Thomasian civil servants should have also been given such an award,” Villarin said in a statement released Monday night. 

Another fellow awardee, Senator Joel Villanueva, also said he was "offended" by the seemingly shallow criteria for the award. 

Awards, he said, "should distinguish role models from the rest based on merit. Awards should stand for something but if they can mean anything, then they are nothing."

He said he initially decided to accept the award “in good faith.” He told Rappler earlier he only learned that Uson was a fellow awardee when he got to the venue and the assistant secretary had already received the award. He said he was prevailed upon by fellow congressmen to stay.

"But here is something that’s undeniably true: it is shameful and unpleasant for someone to accept the award when one’s actions go against the core values of Thomasians, 'truth in charity,' as well as public accountability and transparency in government,” Villarin said. 

"Uson is a purveyor of fake news, an unrepentant violator of ethical standards in journalism, and a free-flowing fountain of foul language and obscenity. Indeed, she has corrupted the values that Thomasians hold dear,” he said. (READ: Mocha Uson: Fake news victim or fake news peddler?)

The Akbayan representative said Thomasians "will always be challenged to stand for truth in channeling genuine charity for others, in whatever way they can, with or without recognition.” 

UST students and alumni, the student councilThe Varsitarian student publication, and the the UST Journalism Society have condemned the award given to Uson, while the UST administration distanced itself from the awards given by the alumni association.

As far as Malacañang was concerned, however, the award validates the appointment to Malacañang of the blogger who campaigned for President Rodrigo Duterte. –