#FireMocha – Manila Standard

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Netizens are calling for the dismissal of Communications Assistant Secretary Margaux “Mocha” Uson after she committed yet again another media gaffe.

The hashtag #FireMocha trended on Aug. 23 after Uson posted a graphic of a police officer’s wake with the words “calling Leni, Bam, Trillanes, at Hontiveros. Kailan niyo dadalawin ito?”

This was a snide reference to the visit of opposition leaders Vice President Leni Robredo and Senators Bam Aquino, Antonio Trillanes, and Risa Hontiveros to the wake of Kian de los Santos, a 17-year-old student slain by police in a drug raid.

Supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte—of which Uson might be the most rabid one—claim that the “dilawan” (“yellows”, in reference to the opposition) are selective in displaying their sympathies in line with their anti- drug war agenda.

Uson erred in failing to check her source—the policeman in the photo died a year ago. After netizens bashed her for the mistake, she deleted it, but too late, netizens had receipts—screenshots taken before the deletion.

On Aug. 27, Uson posted a rant on Facebook. She did not acknowledge her mistaken post and instead fired back at her critics in all caps, which on the Internet is equivalent to shouting:

“Wala akong pakialam sa inyo. Dahil ang pinagsisilbihan ko lang ay si Pangulong Duterte at ang mga taong tunay na may pagmamahal sa bayan.”

Her sulky attitude reflects a recalcitrant streak that can’t take criticism gracefully. She entirely misses the meaning of “public service.” This hysterical tantrum coming from a high-ranking government official was appalling. To say that she serves only certain people goes against the very mission of a public servant, which is to serve all Filipinos.

It’s no use complaining to her boss, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar, who was quoted by CNN Philippines yesterday as saying: “Si Mocha kasi, she just moves forward.

“It shouldn’t be #FireMocha, it should be #MochaOnFire. She protects the President, and whether we like it or not… we have to accept the fact that it’s her unique selling proposition, her huge following online.”

On the Monday (Aug. 28) episode of “Bawal ang Pasaway kay Mareng Winnie” he said he had not chosen Uson to join his team at PCOO; she was Duterte’s pick. The latter has said that Uson’s appointment was “bayad utang” for her services to his campaign.

Andanar said his “rationale for agreeing to get Mocha” was for her “base…sa masa, sa social media, with five million followers…Presidential Comms only had a million followers.”

Andanar brushed off the #FireMocha campaign, saying it was “all political.” However, he admitted that she needs “konting review pagdating sa journalism ethics…Well, she’s not a journalist.”

I saw that photo of the policeman’s wake on Facebook and the headline was about how the policeman died in the line of duty in connection with the drug war.

Because Kian’s death was trending, Facebook’s algorithms burped up similar articles, among them the one about the slain policeman. It happens frequently, and some netizens who just read headlines or fail to read the article carefully repost thinking it is current events.

I recall a similar incident some years back when a veteran columnist in another broadsheet wrote a horrified—clutching-pearls opinion piece based on an article she’d read in The Onion, failing to realize it is a news satire website and all its articles are comedy commentary.

As we say in the biz, nakur-yente sila.

In Uson’s case, hers was another in a series of easily avoidable blunders that call into question her competence and capacity for the post she has been appointed to.

It’s the Peter Principle at work. This management principle states that “people rise to their level of incompetence” —and Uson has reached that level as a public servant.

Because she has five million followers, she was hired. Because she has five million followers, she can’t be fired.

Never mind that her own boss admits she is not a journalist, when the position calls for someone with professional communication experience.

Never mind that Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in May 2017 that her views remain her own and do not represent that of the Palace, despite her being a government employee in presidential communications.

Never mind that her errors require frequent defense from the Palace and Andanar; she is turning into a liability rather than an asset.

Never mind that her posts serve to divide rather than unite the country.

Because in this age of social media, head count matters. She has five million followers. That’s her main claim to fame. #FireMocha had better get those numbers and more if they are to have any say in the matter.

Dr. Ortuoste is a California-based writer. FB: Jenny Ortuoste, Twitter: @jennyortuoste, IG: @jensdecember, @artuoste

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