MANILA (UPDATED) - Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson on Monday said she will take full responsibility for the actions of blogger Andrew Olivar, who is accused of making fun of sign language in a video.
Uson apologized to the deaf community in a new video on her Facebook page.
"Humingi na po ng paumanhin si Andrew Olivar sa kaniyang pagsa-sign language na may pabiro. Gayunpaman, I take full responsibility sa ginawa ng aking radio show partner at kaibigan. Kaya po sa ating mga kapatid sa deaf community nawa'y tanggapin niyo po ang aking sorry. Please forgive me," Uson said, as she apologized using sign language.
(Andrew Olivar has apologized for his actions. Even so, I take full responsibility for what my friend and radio show partner did. For our brothers and sisters in the deaf community, I hope you accept my sorry. Please forgive me.)
Olivar also posted a video of his apology on Facebook.
He said what he did was wrong.
"Humihingi po ako ng tawad po sa deaf community," he said.
(I apologize to the deaf community.)
"Alam kong mali ako eh. Alam kong mali ako. Hindi ako magri-reason out. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry po. Patawarin niyo po ako. Patawarin niyo po ako sa pagiging insensitive ko, sa pagiging childish ko. Never akong magri-reason out dahil kapag mali ka, mali talaga. Kaya 'wag mo nang ipagtanggol," Olivar added.
(I know I was wrong. I will not reason out. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry po. Please forgive me. Please forgive me for being insensitive, for being childish. I will not reason out because if you are wrong, you are wrong.)
In a video shared by Uson to her 5.7 million followers last Thursday, Olivar can be seen mimicking sign language and making sounds in an apparent imitation of hearing-impaired people. Uson, who filmed the clip, can be heard laughing in the background.
Senator Nancy Binay, who authored a bill recognizing the Filipino Sign Language as an an official medium of communication, reminded Uson that "as a public official, it is paramount that she refrain from mocking the people she serves."
Such actions violate the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, the lawmaker noted.
"Sign language should never be made an amusement piece," Binay said.
'MOCKED AND BULLIED'
Marya Angcay, a leader of the deaf community in the country, slammed Uson and Olivar for mocking the sign language that "bridges the gap between hearing advocates and deaf people."
In a Facebook post, Angcay said the duo's video reminded her of the times she could not fight back when people mocked her using sign language to gesturing curses and obscenities.
The Filipino Deaf community, likewise, expressed dismay over the actions of Uson and Olivar.
Members of the Philippine Federation of the Deaf (PFD) and other Deaf groups met at the College of St. Benilde on Monday afternoon to discuss the issue.
“Lumaki kami na pinagtatawanan at ginagaya, binubully. Yun ang bagay na hindi namin makalimutan so parang ganun ulit ang naramdaman ko nung nakita ko ito,” said Henry Perey, secretary of the PFD.
(We grew up being mocked and bullied. That’s what we don’t forget. I was reminded of that bad experience when I saw their video.)
Perey said Uson should have been more sensitive since she is a government official. Meanwhile, he said Olivar should not use his deaf uncle as an excuse.
“Why didn’t he study sign language?” Perey said during an interview with ABS-CBN News, in reaction to an apology posted by Olivar.
Raymond Manding, president of the PFD’s youth section said they are also worried that children would copy Olivar and Uson who were laughing at the fake sign language.
"Really powerful ngayon ang social media. That video went viral paano kung kopyahin sya?” Manding said.
(Social media is really powerful. That video went viral already. What if people start copying them?)
Despite Uson and Olivar's public apologies, PFD said they would still need to consult with their 55 member organizations, as well as the National Council on Disability Affairs. They are thinking of lodging a complaint, as well as coordinating with the government for deaf awareness seminars.
Uson and Olivar's offensive use of sign language was featured in a clip promoting their noontime radio show. The video has garnered 150,000 views.
The duo earlier drew flak for a controversial video featuring the jingle "pepedederalismo" - a play on the term federalism - on Uson's Facebook page. - with a report from Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News