PCOO defends Mocha Uson's function, trips with the President

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Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson and President Rodrigo Duterte. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 6) — The Presidential Communications and Operations Office (PCOO) came to the defense of Assistant Secretary Margaux "Mocha" Uson during budget deliberations at the House Wednesday.

This, after Rep. Carlos Zarate questioned Uson's function in the department before the House Committee on Appropriations.

"It's undeniable na mas kilala ang PCOO dahil kay [that PCOO is more popularly known because of] Asec. Mocha," he said. "What is really the function and role of Asec. Mocha?"

Zarate pointed out Uson's viral video with a co-blogger chanting "Pepe-dede-ralismo" to refer to President Rodrigo Duterte's campaign promise of federalism. Even the President said she went overboard with her approach.

"Saan siya nakalagay rito? Who is her direct supervisor? Sino 'yung content no? Part ba talaga sa function niya na umiikot, sumasabay sa lahat ng lakad ng Presidente at mag-report?" Zarate asked PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar.

[Translation: Who does she answer to? Who is her direct supervisor, who manages her content? Is it part of her function to go around, join the President's travels and report?]

Andanar said Uson handles two shows: the Digong Diaries Special (DDS) Podcast and Good News Pilipinas.

As for her trips, Andanar said, "'Yung mga byahe po ni Presidente na kasama po si Asec. Mocha, siya po ay nire-request ng Office of the President to join the trip."

[Translation: Uson is request upon by the Office of the President to join his trips.]

Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary Ana Banaag reiterated that PCOO Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy has already issued an order to mind her behavior on social media.

"Ang sinasabi lang po namin dito, hindi po kami nanonood lang sa nangyayari. Nakikinig din po kami at may ginagawa po ang aming opisina para ma-direct din po ang opisina ni Asec. Mocha. Kasi po ang mandato po ng PCOO ay magpalaganap ng magandang portrayal o imahe ng kababaihan sa taumayan through advertisements, through recording, at sa lahat ng bagay concerning communications po," she said.

[Translation: What we're saying is we don't just watch what happens. We listen and our office is doing something to direct Asec. Mocha's office. The mandate of the PCOO is to promote a decent portrayal or image of women to the public through advertisments, recordings, and forms of communication.]

Communications Undersecretary Marvin Gatpayat also said they made Uson answer complaints on Uson's controversial video through the National Public Service Hotline (8888).

"At dahil si Asec. Mocha ay isang presidential appointee at ang may administrative jurisdiction ay ang Office of the President, ito po ay dinulog namin sa opisina ng Executive Secretary para ito ay kanila ring maaksyunan," Gatpayat said.

[Translation: Because Asec. Mocha is a presidential appoointee, the Office of the President has administrative jurisdiction, so we sought the intervention of the Office of the Executive Secretary.]

Uson has been a controversial presidential appointee to the PCOO. Being a part of Duterte's presidential campaign back in 2016, she has been accused of spreading "fake news" and has been a part of a Senate hearing on misinformation.

A 'zero budget' for the controversy-laden PCOO was floated amid its other mistakes made public. In June, it referred to "Norwegia" instead of "Norway,"and then referred to late former National Security Adviser Roilo Golez as "Rogelio." It also called Senator Sherwin "Win" Gatchalian "Winston."

The PCOO has a proposed budget of ₱1.474 billion, 2.75 percent or ₱39.434 million higher than the current budget.