Bb. Pilipinas Int'l criticizes Mocha Uson appointment, gets cyberbullied

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 11) — A series of tweets by Binibining Pilipinas International 2017 Mariel De Leon criticizing newly appointed presidential communications official Mocha Uson landed her in hot water among millions of Uson's followers.

It began when De Leon first retweeted a news report about the performer-turned-blogger's appointment on Tuesday to the position of Assistant Secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

When asked by netizens what she thought of Uson, De Leon replied, "Biased and disrespectful. She insults those who are against her."

"There are so many other unbiased, educated, and respected (and respectful) people who deserve her place," she added.

De Leon also hit fake news, saying that it "will bring our country down deeper than the dirt on our feet."




Her comments attracted replies from trolls and supporters of Uson, who has a following of more than five million on Facebook.

They called the young beauty queen unfit to wear the crown and "retokada" or having had plastic surgery, and urged others not to support her in the upcoming international pageant.

Uson took to Facebook on Thursday to respond to De Leon, writing, "Sorry po Bb. Pilipinas. [I'll] take note po of your tweets at pagbubutihin ko po para sa bayan at para sayo po."

[Translation: Sorry, Ms. Philippines. I'll take note of your tweets and do well for the country and for you.]

She also reposted and commended a blog that called De Leon "just a beauty queen who lives in a superficial world, whose brand of influence is through fancy words."

Related: Duterte defends Mocha Uson's appointment

De Leon, who won the title of Binibining Pilipinas International last April 30, ended on a conciliatory note, saying that she was willing to be "educated."

De Leon is the daughter of veteran actors Christopher De Leon and Sandy Andolong. She added that she was not "[all] showbiz," and that she was "not afraid to voice [her] opinions on the matter" and "be criticized for it."

Most of her tweets have since been deleted. "There is no point in making such a small issue this big... This is just Twitter."

She also issued a statement with an apology on Twitter on Thursday, wishing Uson "success in her job."


Appointment earns ire

Uson has been accused by netizens opposed to Duterte and by mainstream media of peddling fake news through her online blog, Mocha Uson Blog. Uson has been a staunch supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte and his controversial war on drugs.

Among the others who also slammed the appointment included Paula Defensor Knack, a known Duterte supporter, former Department of Environment and National Resources Assistant Secretary and sister of the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.

"I do not personally know her, but it should be given to more qualified people with far better credentials because the times and the issues call for people with stature who can speak for the President and gain respect in international fora and media," Knack wrote in a Facebook post. "The Office of the President is not a student council."

Uson replied also on Thursday to Knack, saying that she will take the criticism as a challenge.

Uson has since vowed to fight fake news in her term as assistant secretary.

Actress Jasmine Curtis-Smith also tweeted her alarm to the appointment, saying, "But the track record..."



Among those who hit De Leon was Manila Times columnist Sass Rogando Sasot, who said being PCOO assistant secretary entailed "understanding and having an actual experience in community engagement online."

"Now tell us, how is Mocha not qualified to do the job?" Sasot wrote on Facebook. "But before that: What made you qualified to gauge someone's qualification in that field?"

Sasot even slammed De Leon's background in culinary arts from New Zealand.


"[Mocha] finished a medical degree and got into one of the top med schools in the PH. I believe your degree is related to cooking?" she added.

Uson finished with a degree in medical technology at the University of Sto. Tomas, though she had her rise to fame as a dancer before turning to politics.

Support team

De Leon is not without support, as her tweets reached a few thousand favorites and retweets. Some lauded her for her bravery online, with one saying she was "[definitely] not just another pretty face."

Binibining Pilipinas Intercontinental Katarina Rodriguez also came to De Leon's aid on Thursday. "Just wanted to remind you all that each of us are entitled to our own opinions! Especially [with] religion [and] politics," she tweeted.

Rodriguez's tweets, retweeted by De Leon, appealed that everyone "respect one another" in political discussion.



Congressman and Duterte Teddy Baguilat also called De Leon "a beauty queen and more."