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Much ado about Mocha

By: Stephen D. Capillas May 11,2017 - 08:44 PM



Truth to tell, I was sort of surprised at first with all the negative comments on entertainer/blogger Mocha Uson back when she was still in the sidelines and then President-elect Rodrigo Duterte spent his first few days sparring with the national media.

As someone who actively campaigned for Duterte’s presidential bid and is a female entertainer who made a name for herself gracing men’s magazines and touring with an all-female group named after her (Mocha Girls), it wasn’t much of a stretch to expect her to do her fair share in the campaign trail, which consists of trading potshots at those who criticized her chosen presidential candidate, including mainstream media, through her social media account.

It was her labeling of reporters — by this I take it to mean she was targeting the mainstream media as a whole — she perceived as being critical and hostile to Mr. Duterte and whom she called “presstitutes” that got her both public attention and ire.

When President Duterte held one of his press conferences in Davao City and punctuated his displeasure at a reporter’s question by shouting, “Do not f___ with me,” he followed it up by declaring a ban on press conferences and snubbing ambush interviews.

In contrast, Mocha was considered as a social media consultant first by the Bureau of Customs and then appointed at the Movie Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) before landing her latest gig as assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

But even before her PCOO gig, Mocha did work as a commentator in a radio station before being dropped due to her insults to Vice President Leni Robredo and is a columnist at a national newspaper which gives her an additional stage to raise her public profile considerably.

As someone who is now in the Cabinet, Mocha’s influence and reach coupled with her presence on social media cannot be ignored even by mainstream media which is competing with social media for public attention.

By virtue of her post, she need not apply for accreditation with the Palace media corps whom she criticized in her column in a national paper for refusing to allow her and other bloggers supposedly sympathetic (allied) with President Duterte to join their ranks.

Her official duties include serving as PR on behalf of government in dealing with migrant and overseas workers as well as handling the government’s social media arm.

But to a lot of Filipino netizens who were outraged over her appointment, Mocha is but just one of the President’s propagandists and spin doctors who is on the government’s payroll — one netizen placed her salary as an assistant secretary at P106,000 a month.

A lot has been said about her promotion both favorable and unfavorable, but I agree with one netizen supporter of Mocha who said that Mocha’s appointment was part of the President’s “killing me softly” approach of getting even with his critics, especially the political opposition.

To paraphrase that comment, Mocha’s appointment was the President’s way of flipping the dirty middle finger at his critics including those in mainstream media whom Mocha accused of spreading “fake news” and some of whom were being threatened with non-renewal of business permits and franchise.

* * *

Only a few more days to go and already there are murmurs and at least one news personality who lent their voices to protest the planned cutting of trees along the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes in Cebu City ahead of a public hearing on the issue.

Though running priest Fr. Robert Reyes called on the city government not to cut the trees along the BRT route including Osmeña Boulevard, that would be quite a tall order given the administration’s determination to cut the trees and replace them with seedlings.

I got wind of an online signature campaign to protest the cutting of these trees, and it remains to be seen if this campaign will pick up steam and amass public support.

Unlike the Carcar-Naga City highway project that got derailed due to successful efforts by environmentalists to draw public attention on the cutting of century-old trees, I don’t know if public sentiment can be stirred up to oppose the cutting of the trees in the BRT route, some of which are also decades old. But then again, you never know what will happen in the days ahead.

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TAGS: blogger, government, media, Mocha, Mocha Uson, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Rodrigo Duterte

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