Mocha Uson: From sexy dancer to social media player

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 03 2018 05:58 PM | Updated as of Oct 04 2018 07:30 AM

Former Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson speaks to the media after announcing her resignation during a budget hearing at the Senate on October 3, 2018. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - In 2016, sexy dancer Margaux "Mocha" Uson dismissed rumors that she was out to enter politics or seek a government post.

Describing her support for President Rodrigo Duterte's campaign back then as "voluntary," Uson dared her critics to volunteer for government service instead of finding fault in the administration.

"Wala akong balak tumakbo at wala akong balak pasukin ang pulitika. Hindi po ako naghahangad ng anumang posisyon, government position," Uson said in an interview with ABS-CBN News in August 2016.

(I have no plans to run and no plans of entering politics. I am not aspiring for any position, government position.)

In just a span of two years, Uson went from sexy singer to a government appointee and now, a possible lawmaker, if her supporters so wish. 

"Kung ano po ng mababasa kong comment sa Facebook, 'yung sinasabi ng supporters, doon, doon ko po titingnan," she said Wednesday, following her resignation as communications assistant secretary.

(It depends, I'll look at what my Facebook supporters will say.)

"Senator, Congress—hindi ko po alam pero open po tayo," she added. 

(Senate, Congress—I don't know yet but I'm open.)

FROM DUTERTE SUPPORTER TO GOVERNMENT APPOINTEE

Margaux "Mocha" Uson with the Mocha Girls during then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte's miting de avance at the Luneta Park in Manila, May 8, 2016. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

Along with her sexy sing-and-dance group "Mocha Girls," Uson was in the frontline of Duterte's 2016 presidential campaign, performing at his sorties and heading what she then described as a "citizen-led campaign" online.

Uson's Facebook page, which now has a 5.7-million following, was a social media influencer during the 2016 election season and continued to be so after Duterte assumed office in mid-2016. 

"Worth it ang effort ng pagkampanya ng Pilipino kay Duterte (The effort to campaign for Duterte is worth it)," she said in an interview with ABS-CBN News just after Duterte won the elections.

"Worth it dahil mayroon tayong presidente na talagang tao ang pumili at naglagay sa kaniya sa posisyon (It's worth it because we now have a president who was chosen by the people and they put him in power)," she added.

Today, the "Mocha Uson Blog" serves as a platform for both supporters and critics of the President to exchange comments, at times getting vicious. 

Uson's fierce support for the President, largely through her blog, eventually led to a government appointment. 

President Rodrigo Duterte congratulates the then newly-appointed Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) board member Margaux "Mocha" Uson during the oath-taking of government officials at the Rizal Hall, Malacañang Palace, January 9, 2017. Robinson Ninal, Malacañang Photo

She got her first official appointment in government in early 2017 when she became board member of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).

It was in May 2017 when Uson found her way to the Palace after the President appointed her to be part of his communications team as assistant secretary. 

Duterte said the appointment was his way of giving back to Uson for believing in him during the campaign period.

“Utang na loob ko 'yan sa kaniya because they offered their services for free,” Duterte said. “It’s my time to believe in them.”

CONTROVERSIES

Then Presidential Communications Operation Office Assistant Secretary Margaux "Mocha" Uson answers questions during the Senate probe on 'fake news,' Oct. 4, 2017. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

Uson's time in government, however, was marked with several controversies.

Throughout her time as a public official, Uson was repeatedly criticized for peddling false information.

Among these instances was when she mistakenly said that Mt. Mayon was in Naga, instead of Albay province. She later apologized for the mistake.

She also drew flak for sharing a photo of supposed Filipino soldiers in Marawi City, which later turned out to be an image of soldiers in Honduras.

Uson was also called out over a Facebook poll she ran asking whether the EDSA Revolution was a product of "fake news." 

The poll garnered about 61,800 votes, with 84 percent saying they agreed that the bloodless revolt was a product of fake news.

Malacañang dismissed the poll results.

At the start of the year, Uson made headlines after she was given a government service award by the alumni association of her alma mater, the University of Santo Tomas. 

The recognition was disowned by UST, which clarified that the alumni association was a different entity.

Following what she called "bullying" over the recognition, Uson returned the award to the organization.

Uson has also been at odds with several personalities, such as opposition figures she openly criticized online with unconfirmed claims. 

Among these are Senator Antonio Trillanes IV who filed charges of libel, graft and ethics violations against her for various alleged offenses, including accusing him on social media of hiding ill-gotten wealth in several bank accounts, which turned out to be non-existent. 

Uson also earned the ire of actress Kris Aquino after the former involved her slain father, Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., in defending Duterte's "playful" kiss with a Filipina in South Korea.

Even weeks before her resignation, Uson was not spared from criticism for two of her videos with blogger Drew Olivar.

The latest video supposedly makes fun of sign language while the other video featured the jingle "pepedederalismo" - a play on the term federalism.

Uson apologized to the deaf community for the video and defended her way of promoting federalism.

She and Olivar are facing a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman for the video. 

A month before her resignation, Duterte acknowledged that “some things went overboard” with regards to Uson, but noted that the public must respect her freedom of expression.

“Si Mocha maraming kalaban… There are things na tingin ko medyo nasobrahan (Mocha has many enemies. There are things that I think went overboard). But just the same, as a president who is sworn to take the constitution and enforce it, it is covered by freedom of expression,” Duterte said.

(Mocha has many enemies. There are things that I think went overboard.)

WHAT'S NEXT?

Former Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson speaks to the media after announcing her resignation during a budget hearing at the Senate on October 3, 2018. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

On Wednesday, Uson said she was making the "sacrifice" of resigning from her post at the Presidential Communications Operations Office to aid the passage of her agency's budget.

"Ako na po ang magsasakripisyo para maipasa na ang budget ng PCOO. Ako ay nagdesisyon na mag-resign na po," Uson said.

(I will make the sacrifice so that the PCOO budget can be passed. I have decided to resign.)

Her resignation will likely be accepted by the President, according to his aide.

But despite her exit from government service, Uson vowed that the fight has just begun, even warning her critics to watch out for her.

"Hindi po ito katapusan ng laban, umpisa lang po ito," she said.

(This is not the end of the fight. This is just the beginning.)

"'Wag kayo magkakamaling isipin na nagtagumpay kayo. Hindi ako nagbitiw sa posisyon dahil takot akong harapin kayo. Gusto ko lang na 'pag nagharap tayo ay patas ang laban."

(Do not make the mistake of thinking that you won. I did not resign because I am scared. I just want to have a fair chance when I face you.)