The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) has proposed a P1.35 billion budget for 2018 during the Senate hearing on Wednesday, but senators are more concerned with how the said agency should be handling the spread of fake news with the presence of Assistant Secretary (ASec) Mocha Uson.
PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar said that they requested an additional P245 million to battle fake news as an answer to Senator JV Ejercito’s inquiry on their plans.
“As far as PCOO is concerned, we’re already drafting an activity that will [fight] fake news through a media literacy program that we are going to be bringing to the grassroots level,” the Secretary said.
He added that the agency supports Senator Joel Villanueva’s bill in addressing the issue.
Ejercito, however, said, “I would have wanted Secretary Uson to answer some questions,” who is currently with Senator Alan Cayetano in New York for the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.
Uson, maintaining a page online – Mocha Uson Blog, is not just known for supporting the President but also for posts that feed and spread fake news to her followers.
Andanar defended the ASec by saying that they had an agreement that her page is a personal blog that should not represent or reflect the agency she is working for.
“Kahit na po maraming puna kay ASec Mocha, literal bina-bash siya at meron ng mga #FireMocha na lumalabas (Even thought a lot criticize ASec Mocha, literally bash her, and there was even the #FireMocha), she still continues to fly with the President wherever he goes, especially in sensitive places. So that goes to show ASec Mocha enjoys the trust and confidence of the President,” the Secretary added.
Senator Nancy Binay, however, was more straight-to-the-point with Andanar.
“Ang hirap i-separate ng (It is hard to separate the) Mocha-private citizen and Mocha the ASec, lalong-lalo na… I mean how can you, Secretary Andanar, fight fake news kung may instances na nanggagaling mismo sa isang ASec ‘yung fake news (if there are instances that the ASec herself is the one who spreads fake news)?” Binay questioned.
“So I guess ‘yun ‘yung nagiging (that is your) dilemma mo, how would you balance things?” the Senator added.
ASec Uson has been repeatedly caught on posting wrong information on her account, from mismatching photos and captions, and claiming truth on unconfirmed details and data. She has also criticized journalists, questioning what ‘authentic journalism’ is and calling them ‘presstitutes’ for being biased.
Uson on her page took a screenshot of Rappler’s photo of Binay’s statement and replied, “Hindi po tayo makiki-argue pagdating sa paratang ng fake news dahil propaganda ‘yan ng mga against sa atin. Sila ang nagpapakalat ng mali-maling impormasyon pagdating sa ating Pangulo (I will not argue when it comes to fake news as that is just a propaganda by those against us. They are the one who spread wrong information about our President).”
“Kung nagkamali man po ako sa post ko dahil sa hindi pagsunod sa ‘standard’ ng pagiging journalist, pasensya na pero at least kahit kailan hindi ako nagnakaw sa bayan ko. Kayo po Ma’am? Nagtatanong lang po (If I made a mistake in my post by not following the ‘standard’ of being a journalist, I am sorry but at least I never stole anything from my country. How about you Ma’am? I am only asking),” she added.