Kung nasaktan ka, kasuhan mo: PCOO exec defends Mocha, et al

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 05 2017 08:45 AM | Updated as of Oct 05 2017 03:39 PM

Communications Assistant Secretary Margaux "Mocha" Uson. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - (UPDATED) Individuals affronted by online sentiments of public officials should lodge complaints instead of repressing their opinions and right to speak, a Malacañang official said Thursday. 

"Kung mayroong ang pakiramdam ay na-offend, halimbawa, si Senator [Antonio] Trillanes, nag-file siya ng kaso then so be it. Iyung ang dynamics ng democracy natin e," Undersecretary Joel Egco of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) told DZMM. 

"Kung nasaktan ka, kasuhan mo," he added. 

Trillanes earlier filed charges of libel, graft and ethics violations against PCOO Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson for sharing allegedly false information on his bank accounts.

On Wednesday, Uson was grilled in a Senate hearing on fake news grilled for supposedly spreading misleading information on her social media page. The official, for part, said her social media posts are her opinion and do not reflect PCOO policy. 

Senator Nancy Binay then cited Republic Act 6713 or the code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials, which prohibits them from using the "excuse of doing things in our capacity as a private individuals."

Senator Nancy Binay then cited Republic Act 6713 or the code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials, which prohibits them from using the "excuse of doing things in our capacity as a private individuals." 

Egco however said the law does not strip government officials of their right to free speech and expression. 

"Hindi pwede raw ihiwalay ang pagiging blogger niya sa pagiging government official niya. Yes, maybe in other aspects, but not in terms of free speech and expression," said Egco, former president of the National Press Club. 

"If you tell someone not to speak or express herself, iyun ang pinaka-dangerous. Hindi pwede iyan kung ang opisyal ng gobyerno sasabihan mo ng ganyan dahil may admin code daw, may [RA] 6713." 

The PCOO, he added, has not ordered Uson to take down her page, which has some 5.2 million followers. 

The blog is a "private property" and details on "regulating" it have to be ironed out, said suspended lawyer Trixie Angeles, an ardent supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte who has been appointed as PCOO social media strategist.

"Let’s start looking for those standards. You have to balance a President who can give out 4-letter words in public and people accept it—at first we were totally shocked, but now that he does it so often…(we get) less and less complaints about it," she told ANC's Headstart.

Angeles said Communications Secretary Martin Andanar is able to rein in Uson, and imposed a rule on every PCOO employee to verify anything before it is posted.

Veteran journalist Ellen Tordesillas, president of the Vera Files, said whatever Uson says or posts reflects on the government and that bloggers--not only journalists--should refrain from posting lies.

"Once you're in the business of communication, there's no reason why you should spread lies. Kahit hindi ka reporter, basta human being ka, there's no place for lies in this world," she said.