Mocha Uson meant well with viral video, but federalism deserves more seriousness – Palace

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 6) — Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson didn't mean to offend Filipinos with her viral video on federalism, but a topic as serious as the proposed charter change deserves intellectual discourse, the president's spokesperson said on Monday.

"I think Mocha Uson had the best of intentions kasi gusto niya talaga na mapag-usapan ang federalismo ng mga tao... Pero sana po ay gawin nating mas malalim ang usapin ng federalismo. Commensurate with the importance of the Constitution," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a regular media briefing.

Uson, one of those tapped to help in the multi-million massive information drive on the proposed shift to a federal form of government, she posted a video on August 2 that went viral on Sunday. In the video, blogger Drew Olivar was singing a jingle, playing with the word federalism using racy terms and gesturing towards female private parts --- all to Uson's cheering.

Several senators on Monday expressed disgust and dismay at Uson for her crude video on federalism.

Senator Nancy Binay hit Uson for turning the complicated subject of federalism into an "amusement piece," while Senate President Tito Sotto said using "theatrical techniques" was not the proper way to educate the public on federalism.

Related: Senators slam Mocha Uson for 'vulgar' federalism video

Roque agreed, "Siguro kapag usaping federalismo, dapat siguro mas seryoso kasi ito ay Saligang Batas, pinaka-mataas na batas sa ating bayan."

[Translation: Perhaps in discussing federalism, it should be serious because this is the Constitution, the supreme law of the nation.]

Meanwhile, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Martin Andanar passed the blame on Consultative Committee (ConCom) Spokesperson Ding Generoso. He said the spokesperson approached Uson directly without consulting federalism campaign heads from the Interior Department and PCOO.

"I confronted Spokes Ding Generoso today. I told him dapat mag-disengage siya kasi hindi naman siya nagpaalam sa PCOO. Dumiretso siya kay Asec Mocha without informing the inter-agency and me as the head of this department. Dapat may go-signal," he said in a media briefing on Monday.

[Translation: I told him to disengage because he didn't ask for permission from the PCOO. He directly approached Asec. Mocha.. There should be a go signal.]

Andanar said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea was pissed when he found out the news when Generoso announced ConCom is tapping the Communications Assistant Secretary to raise awareness on federalism by connecting with her over 5.6 million followers on Facebook.

"It's not official, kaya medyo na-badtrip si ES (Medialdea) kasi wala namang official announcement na merong spokesperson...  (that's why Medialdea was pissed because there was no official announcement that there's a spokesperson) He said 'We should ask the assistance of experts in the field of law and federalism,'" he said.

Andanar said he has yet to talk to Uson and Generoso.

Generoso, in a statement, said Uson was not named a spokesperson and they had no plans to designate one for the information dissemination program.

Generoso also agreed with the senators that Uson's video was not the proper way to present the proposed charter change.

"It is certainly not the way to present federalism. It is not a part of the information campaign. What we envisioned is an information campaign that dwells on the benefits that federalism will bring to ordinary citizens," he said.

Andanar said Uson can help with the federalism drive, but she cannot be an official spokesperson, which has to be approved by the Interior Department's inter-agency group.

Binay proposed that the Palace should bar all those who are not part of ConCom to join the federalism information campaign.

"At the moment, perhaps Malacañang can ask those who have no official business in speaking in behalf of the Consultative Committee to disengage from all activities relating to the information campaign about federalism," she said.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who campaigned on a promise of charter change, is pushing for a shift to federalism by the time his term ends. However, recent surveys show a majority of Filipinos do not favor the change. A recent Pulse Asia poll also showed almost 7 in 10 Filipinos admitted to having little to no knowledge of the proposed federal system of government, prompting the government to beef up the information campaign on the issue.