It seems only President Rodrigo Duterte can do something about Mocha Uson.
Officials of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) revealed at its budget hearing at the House of Representatives Thursday that, as a political appointee, only the President can decide on whether controversial Assistant Secretary on Social Media Esther Margaux “Mocha” Uson official stays or goes.
“[Assistant Secretary] Uson falls under the administrative jurisdiction of the Office of the President as a political appointee,” PCOO Chief of Staff and Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Marvin Gatpayat said.
At the hearing, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Ysagani Zarate pressed PCOO Secretary Jose Ruperto Martin Andanar on what has been done over Uson’s many gaffes and posts that drew widespread criticism.
Asked by Andanar to reply to the question, PCOO Assistant Secretary for Operations and Legislative Affairs Ana Maria Paz Banaag said that Uson had been issued a memorandum by PCOO New Media and External Affairs Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy to remind her of rules and policies for government officials.
“A small fact-finding activity was also held,” Banaag said.
Uson again drew widespread criticism of the Presidential Communications Group for her video endorsement of Duterte’s federalism campaign with a blogger that referred to vagina and breasts.
Banaag said that the PCOO officials and employees shall soon undergo gender-sensitivity trainings in response to the frenzy of criticisms it received from Uson’s video.
Questions about Uson drew the greatest interest among those who attended the budget hearing, eliciting laughter from even PCOO officials and staff present.
Arts and media alliance Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI) submitted to the committee a letter questioning the PCOO’s proposed PhP1.41 billion budget for 2019.
“Taxpayers bear the burden of paying for the PCOO’s work, whether it is done, not done, or not done well by the agency,” LODI explained.
The group asked if Uson and blogger Drew Olivar’s controversial video was taken inside the PCOO offices and of government personnel and facilities were used in filming, editing and uploading the video.
Explaining the official’s absence during the hearing to personally answer questions pertaining to her, Andanar said Uson is accompanying President Rodrigo Duterte in his official visits to Israel and Jordan.
Andanar made a quick exit and did not answer questions from journalists after the hearing. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)