A heated exchange between senators and Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Margaux “Mocha” Uson erupted during a Wednesday hearing of the Senate committee on public information and mass media on on the proliferation of fake and misleading news and false information.
United Nationalist Alliance Senator Nancy Binay said that it is high time for Uson to decide if she wants to take the path of being an Assistant Secretary or that of a blogger.
Citing Republic Act 6713 under section 4, Binay said that government officials can’t use the excuse of doing things in their capacity as private individuals.
“Para malinaw na malinaw na [Just to be very clear] at this point in time hindi mo na pwedeng ihiwalay yung pagiging blogger mo sa pagiging Asec. mo [you can’t separate your profession as a blogger and as an Asec.],” she said.
Uson who is known as a vocal supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, defended herself in front of lawmakers, saying that she is just exercising her freedom of speech.
“Lahat naman po tayo ay may karapatang ipahayag ang ating mga sarili [Everyone of us has the right to express ourselves],” she said.
“Unang-una po, karapatan po ng blogger yun sa kanyang opinion, madam chair kung, gusto po n’yang hingin ang side ng isang tao. Opinion po ang blogging unlike po sa mainstream media [First of all, it is the right of a blogger in her opinion, madam chair, if he/she wants to ask for the side of a person. Blogging is an opinion unlike mainstream media],” Uson added.
Undersecretary Joel Egco who also attended the hearing explained that Uson was the PCOO Assistant Secretary for social media. He clarified if they still have their right to express their opinions despite holding government positions.
Poe responded, “ Yes you have, If you speak officially on a government side, you have.,unless you clarify that it’s your personal opinion but you should not use the government portal.”
The Assistant Secretary who regularly expresses her opinions in her social media account stressed that she was also a victim of fake news.
She recalled how she was attacked by ‘bashers’ online due to a report that said that she has been appointed as social media consultant for the Bureau of Customs, a claim then Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon denied.
Uson also said that it is the duty of a journalist to get both sides of a story, a statement Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino slammed.
“Sa dinami-dami ng mga blog mo tungkol sa amin dito. May isang beses ba na humingi ka ng side naming [With all your blogs about us here. Did you ask for our side (of the story), even once]?” Aquino said
“With all due respect, your honor, I am not journalist. I am a blogger,” Uson replied.
“Yes or no, may isang beses ba na humingi ka ng side namin [did you ask anyone here atleast once]?” Aquino reiterated.
Uson refused to answer and said, “I invoke my right against self-incrimination.”
“So fairness ang hinihingi mo Asec Mocha. You’re asking that these organizations be fair to you so ang sinasabi ko lang hinihingi mo yung fairness pwedeng bang bigyan mo rin kami ng fairness [So you demand fairness Asec. Mocha. You’re asking that these organizations be fair to you, what I’m just saying, if you are asking for it can you give us fairness as well]?” Aquino pressed on.