By Macon Araneta i FilAm Star Correspondent
COMMUNICATIONS Assistant Sec. Mocha Uson’s controversial video on federalism triggered an uproar among senators who asked her to distance herself from the federalism campaign.
“Stay away from the federalism campaign and take a leave,” stressed Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, also president of the ruling PDP-Laban.
“Because my understanding was that she’s not in charge but someone with authority and knowledge about federalism like the members of the Consultative Committee,” said Pimentel.
“I never thought they would even tarnish the cause of federalism. Mocha should be taken out of federalism. She should study hard first. She should take a leave first,” he also said.
However, Pimentel was quick to clarify that he was not mad at anyone “but disappointed that the best and the brightest appointed to this government can come up with only that kind of b******t.”
“Even without the dance and the song, listen to the statement. The substance was all wrong!” said the Senator who is at the forefront of pushing for a federal form of government.
Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero branded the federalism jingle a “desperate attempt” to attract attention “by intentionally offending our sense of propriety.”
“It is downright vulgar and has no place in the public discourse on such an important issue as their supposed shift to federalism and Charter change,” said Escudero.
He assured that they will hold the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) to account for every centavo the government would allocate for the federalism campaign.
“I support this law and commend President Rodrigo Duterte for finally seeing it through after two administrations failed to do so,” further stated Escudero.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said that even without Uson, the proposed federalism is already dead and awaiting cremation at the Senate.
“With Mocha Uson, the ashes should be thrown far, far away from the Philippines’ 7,107 beautiful islands,” also said Lacson.
Opposition Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan wants PCOO Sec. Martin Andanar to explain for the latest snafu of some people under his department.
He said Andanar should explain the indecency and lewdness that are happening in his department involving his people using the fund, time and resources of the government.
Sen. Cynthia Villar said federalism is a very serious matter because it involves the Constitution. She said, “If it is not seriously presented, then cha-cha would not be seriously taken,” she also said.
“Let us fix the federalism campaign. Federalism is not popular and yet, we have this controversy,” she added.
Sen. Nancy Binay said federalism is not an “amusement piece nor is it a comedy material.”
“I can’t emphasize enough how important the messenger relays the message. With what we all saw in the video, I think we can all agree that the message and the messenger matter.”
“It is sad that the seriousness of the discourse has been downgraded to the lowest of forms,” she said.
Binay urged Malacañang to ask those who have no official business to speak on behalf of the Consultative Committee “to disengage from all activities relating to the information campaign about federalism.”
Instead of spending PHP 90 million for federalism campaign, Binay said the money would be better used for children’s healthcare.
“Let it be better spent on medicines and assistance to flood and fire victims — at least we know healthcare is worth every centavo,” she said.
She had earlier asked Uson to attend a Senate hearing on cha-cha and explain how she would promote and explain federalism to the people.
She noted that Uson planned to utilize the PHP 90-million earmarked by the Department of Interior and Local Government and Consultative Committee for the information campaign to educate the public about the administration’s plan to change the country’s form of government.
Another opposition member, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, said Uson is the best promoter of Duterte’s fake federalism, infamous for its vulgarity and cheap antics to railroad it through an undemocratic and Senate-less charter change, postponement of the 2019 elections and term extension.
“With her as promoter, the Duterte government’s sham federalism now has zero credibility.”
“This is a big insult to the office that Asec. Uson, to women and it’s a big waste of government’s money.” she said.
“What have the private parts of a woman to do with the issue on federalism? Uson was tasked and asked to help explain to the public the issue of federalism, and not insult women and sexualize our body,” she said.
But Hontiveros noted she was no longer surprised by Uson’s behavior, saying it is probably the “new normal” under the Duterte administration.
Sen. Bam Aquino said that not all things can be done through lewdness especially the future of the country. “I hope our Constitution and the Filipinos who made sacrifices should be respected,” he said.
Uson was tapped by the government to help promote the shift to federalism. In the video released on social network last August 5, Uson was seen prodding a certain Drew Olivar, her co-host on the “Good News Game Show,” to sing and dance the federalism jingle with the lyrics: “I-pepe, i-pepe, i-dede, i-dede, i-pepe-pepe-pepederalismo!”
Olivar was seen gesturing to his crotch and chest as he chanted “i-pepe” (a Filipino slang word for the reproductive organ) and “i-dede” (slang word for breast).
Despite the controversy, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto sees Uson as the perfect endorser for federalism.
“She symbolizes those in favor of federalism,” Recto added in a text message.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said they might just be joking because “there are certain issues that can’t be treated… you know me, I sometimes take some things lightly. Serious issues, high fallutin’ like that can’t be taken lightly. Perhaps, if you are going to do it privately, it’s just ok.”
“But nothing is private in the internet. Therefore, it could not add to the info campaign of the government,” he added.
Because of this, he said the PCOO should do away with it. He admitted that one thing is certain— that theatrics could not work to adequately explain federalism.