CHARTER COMMITTEE MEMBER 'DISGUSTED, DISTURBED'
MANILA (UPDATED/CORRECTED) - Senator Koko Pimentel on Monday urged Communications Assistant Secretary Margaux "Mocha" Uson to take a leave from work after her co-host in an online show danced lewdly to promote federalism.
Uson on Thursday shared to her 5.6 million Facebook followers an episode of "Good News Game Show" that she hosts with social media personality Drew Olivar, who danced at the start of the video, cheering "Ipepe, ipepe. Idede, idede. Ipede, pede, pede, pederalismo!"
"'Di ko lubos akalain na bababuyin pala nila ang kawsa ng Pederalismo. Ilayo na si Mocha sa Pederalismo. Mag-aral muna siya ng mabuti. Mag leave muna siya," Pimentel said in a statement.
(I did not anticipate that they will disrespect the cause of federalism. Mocha should be distanced from federalism. She should study first. She should take a leave of absence.)
Pimentel is the president of PDP-Laban, the political party of President Rodrigo Duterte, who promised the shift to federalism during the 2016 election campaign as a solution to poverty in Mindanao.
The lawmaker's father, former Senate President Nene Pimentel, is a member of the consultative committee that earlier submitted a draft of a federal charter to Duterte.
Pimentel said he was disappointed that the supposed best and brightest people appointed to the government "can come up with only that kind of bullsh**."
"Even without the dance and the song, listen to the statement they read. Mali mali pa ang substance!" he said.
In one portion of the video, Olivar said some countries that have a federal government are US, France, and Singapore. The last 2 countries, however, are not under a federal government.
He also described federalism as follows: "Ito ang mode ng government kung saan mayroong central or federal government na sakop ang buong bansa, at meron ding pamahalaan ang bawat rehiyon—mapaprobinsiya o estado—na sumasaklaw sa kani-kanilang teritoryo, yaman at tao."
"Ang federalism, parang rainbow 'yan. Kita ninyo 'yung rainbow? Di ba seven ang kulay na magkakaiba at kanya-kanya ang guhit. Pero pinagsama-sama sila sa isang hilera, at ganda-ganda nila. Ganda ng sumulat nito! (laughs) Ganyan ang layunin ng federalism, na sa kabila ng ating pagkakaiba, kaya nating mag-shine nang sama-sama," he added.
Pimentel said he was wrong in thinking that Uson can boost the federalism drive.
"Kasi naman ang pagka-intindi ko ay hindi naman siya ang in-charge kundi isang tao na mas meron otoridad at kaalaman sa Pederalismo tulad ng mga myembro ng consultative comm," he explained.
(It's because I though she will not be in-charge, but rather, a person with more authority and understanding of federalism, like members of the consultative committee.)
MORE SENATORS SLAM FEDERALISM DANCE
Senate President Tito Sotto, meanwhile, said: "How can a few minutes of entertaining video explain it? Bahala sila to what they want to do, but I assure you, theatrical techniques will not work to explain a very serious issue."
The video is a "desperate attempt to attract attention by intentionally offending our sense of propriety," added Senator Chiz Escudero.
"It is downright vulgar & has no place in the public discourse on such an important issue as THEIR proposed shift to federalism & charter change!," he wrote on Twitter.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, said the video was an affront to women.
"Ano ang kinalaman ng maseselang bahagi ng katawan ng babae sa usapin ng pederalismo? Inatasan at hinigan ng tulong si Ms. Uson para ipaliwanag sa publiko ang issue ng pederalismo, hindi para bastusin ang mga kababaihan at i-sexualize ang aming mga katawan," she said.
(What's the connection of private female parts to the issue of federalism? Ms. Uson was tasked and asked to help explain the issue of federalism to the public, not to disrespect women and sexualize our bodies.)
Uson cemented the death of proposed changes to the charter to pave the way for federalism before the Senate, added Senator Panfilo Lacson.
"Without Mocha Uson, 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," he said.
Senator Kiko Pangilinan urged Uson's superior, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, to answer to the video, which he said was an "obscenity" and not a public service.
Former Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said on Twitter Uson and Olivar's video was "disturbing" because of the use of toilet humor and sex on a very important issue.
"I agree and I am disgusted," Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, a member of the committee consultative committee, said in his reply to Larrazabal's tweet.
ON THE DEFENSE
Olivar, for his part, slammed critics for supposedly putting malice to the lyrics of the cheer. He also stressed that the video also tried to explain federalism through trivia in the course of the game show.
Uson, meanwhile, clarified in a video posted in her blog Sunday night that no public funds were used in the online game show.
The government official stressed that she is neither a spokesperson nor ambassador of federalism, as she was only one of the people tapped to help in the social media campaign on federalism.
"Wala pong inilabas na pera dito sa video na ito o sa game show na ito. Walang pera, walang budget, hindi po binayaran si Drew," she said.
"Hindi po ako ang spokesperson ng federalism, hindi po ako ang ambassadress ng federalism. Isa lang po ako sa mga tutulong para isulong ang kampanya ng federalism sa social media," she added.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Uson may have caught public attention for federalism but he believes the government’s campaign should have a serious tone.
“Napansin talaga ang pederalismo sa ginawa niya, pero kung sa akin, iba po iyong pamamaraan na gagamitin natin para ipahayag sa taumbayan kung ano ang pederalismo,” Roque told radio dzRH.
(The public took note of federalism because of what she did, but we have to use other means to promote federalism.)
“Siguro meron siyang mabuting mga hangarin at nakamit niya siguro iyong hangarin niya na dapat pag-usapan. Pero hindi po ganyang pag-uusap ang ninais natin, ang gusto po natin ay maintindihan talaga ng tao kung ano itong pederalismo at bakit ito makakabuti sa kanilang pang-araw-araw na buhay, dahilan para suportahan itong charter change.”
(She may have good intentions and she may have succeeded in getting the public to know more about federalism. But that’s not the kind of talk that we want. What we want is for people to understand what federalism is all about and how it will improve their daily lives and make them support charter change.)
-- Reports from Jamaine Punzalan, Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News
(Editor's note: An earlier version of this story falsely mentioned that Gregorio Larrazabal was a member of the Consultative Committee on Charter change. Our apologies.
Senator Tito Sotto also released a corrected statement Monday night removing the words "high falluting" from his earlier reaction on the Mocha Uson video.)