Mocha Uson's Milan trip with Cayetano
While her role in government and her controversial blog came into question during a Senate hearing on fake news, Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson was in Milan, Italy, with Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.
Cayetano was in Milan for the January 27-28 command conference of over 30 Philippine ambassadors to countries in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
Uson's Facebook blog showed she attended the meeting as well and met with some overseas Filipino workers based in the Italian city. She posted videos of her walking through Milan's top tourist spots.
In a gathering with the Milan-based Filipino community, Uson even had the audience shout "Naga!" instead of "Cheese!" for a photo, in reference to her mistake of identifying Naga, and not Albay, as the location of Mount Mayon.
It was not the first time for the Palace communications official to become part of a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) event overseas not attended by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The mandate of PCOO executives is typically limited to presidential events, but Uson is not the typical PCOO official. Even if he has his own communications team at the DFA, Cayetano had been requesting her help in his overseas engagements, apparently banking on her popularity among overseas Filipinos.
Uson was also with Cayetano when he represented the country at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2017. (READ: What's Mocha Uson doing at the UN General Assembly in New York?)
"Asec Mocha was actually requested by the Office of Secretary Cayetano and so we sent her there. We know that Asec Mocha has good relations with OFWs and most of the Duterte supporters also. And also to help Sec Cayetano with his media," PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar told Rappler on January 11.
During the Senate hearing on fake news on Tuesday, January 30, Andanar reiterated Uson's popularity among OFWs – the market she's supposed to cater to, along with classes C, D, E – in her job as PCOO Assistant Secretary in charge of social media.
While in Milan, Uson posted a photo of an award or recognition presented to her by the "Associazione F.C.S.I Filipino Community" from Salerno, Italy.
This again allowed her to poke fun at how outrage from the University of Santo Tomas community forced her to return an alumni award.
It's clear in her posts that her role in the trip is to highlight OFW support for Duterte. Just like what she did in New York last year, she only interviewed Duterte Diehard Supporters (DDS), those who are avid readers of her blog or other pro-Duterte blogs.
Uson would often ask her interviewees about their thoughts on Duterte critics like Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, and they would respond by either condemning or making fun of the President's detractors.
Uson's continued service in the official communication arm of the government while she continued to run her private blog pointed to a possible conflict of interest, Senator Grace Poe said at the Senate hearing on Tuesday.
"To be under the Office of Communications, the official communications office, not just of the President but of the Republic, wouldn't this be in conflict? I think Asec (Uson) would be permitted more freedom to speak out should she be in the private sector, Sir," Poe told Andanar at the hearing.
Is Uson, who flies abroad on the wings of taxpayers' money, representing all Filipinos in need of government assistance, or just those Filipinos who support the President? – Rappler.com
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