Mocha Uson Reduces Federalism to Variety Show Vulgarity; Even Tito Sotto Disapproves
The next time someone asks you, "When was the last time you agreed with something Tito Sotto said?" remember this moment, because there probably won't be another like it, ever. Earlier today, Senate President Sotto tweeted: "Theatrical techniques will not work to explain a very serious and high falluting issue such as Federalism!"
If you ignore his misuse and misspelling of the word highfalutin, he's actually right about this one. Sotto is referring to a live video posted by Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, in which her friend Drew Olivar performed a lewd dance number to introduce a portion of the federalism-themed episode of their game show entitled The Good News Game Show with Drew & Mocha.
In this portion of the hour-long video, Olivar, who is also a pro-administration social media personality, erupted into a seemingly random series of convulsions, gesturing at his pelvis and torso while singing: "I-pepe, i-pepe; i-dede, i-dede; i-pe, i-de, i-pederalismo!"
We almost don't want to direct you to the video itself, because of the additional views it would incur and also because we want to spare you the horror. But rarely is a video about the political future of our country such a unique combination of preposterous, stomach-churning, pitiful, and demoralizing, so give it one look here, at around the five-minute mark, before washing your eyes out with bleach.
The video itself was posted on August 2, after it had aired live on Facebook. But a clip of the dance number began to circulate yesterday, August 5, drawing public attention, and naturally, outrage.
Politicos, and even members of the Consultative Committee (the Con-Com, tasked with reviewing the 1987 Constitution and drafting a federal constitution) have swiftly disavowed Uson's video.
Con-Com member Father Ranhilio Aquino told Rappler on Monday that the Uson's video “used toilet humor in relation to a very serious document." He added: "I really dislike that because the constitution is really something so fundamental to the life of the nation that you cannot deal with it with levity like that."
Con-Com spokesperson Ding Generoso—who spoke to Uson last Friday, August 3, to finalize her participation in the awareness campaigns for federalism—has also called the video "unfortunate" and has distanced Uson from the Con-Com's campaign, suggesting that she "lay low."
Senator Tito Sotto issued his own statement of disapproval to the Inquirer, saying, Uson's video "must be a joke." Asked about whether or not Uson should still be a part of the push for federalism, Sotto added: "Bahala sila to do what they want to do, but I assure you, theatrical techniques will not work to explain a very serious and high-falluting issue." He echoed this sentiment on his own Tweet.
Senator Ping Lacson thinks Uson that "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."
Senator Risa Hontiveros said that Uson "is the best promoter of Pres Duterte's fake federalism, infamous for its vulgarity to railroad it through an undemocratic & Sen-less charter change, postponement of the 2019 elections & term extention. W/ her as promoter, federalism now has 0 credibility."
Senator Kiko Pangilinan thinks "Kababuyan at kalaswaan ang tawag sa ginagawa nila at hindi public service."
Senator Chiz Escudero called it "is a desperate attempt to attract attention by intentionally offending our sense of propriety! It is downright vulgar & has no place in the public discourse on such an important issue as THEIR proposed shift to federalism & charter change!
But the strongest denouncement might be the one from Senator Koko Pimentel, a staunch advocate of federalism, and also the son of Con-Com member Nene Pimentel. The younger Pimentel told reporters, "'Di ko lubos akalain na bababuyin pala nila ang kawsa ng pederalismo. Ilayo na si Mocha sa pederalismo. Mag-aral muna siya nang mabuti. Mag-leave muna siya." He also said that he was not angry, but "disappointed, that the best and the brightest appointed to this government can come up with only that kind of bullshit."
For their part, Uson and Olivar have addressed the backlash and issued their own statements. Uson herself pointed out that the video is not officially part of the Con-Com's information drive; and that it was shot and posted before her role in the information drive for federalism was finalized, as part of a game show that she and Olivar had already been running. She also claims that the video has been taken out of context, and that no government money was used to produced it. Then of course she included the good ol' "katuwaan lang" argument, which government officials seem to be fond of these days.
Olivar said pretty much the same things, but in a longer, louder, and much more vulgar Facebook live video that also contained a lot of angry, incoherent arguments for federalism. His page contains posts of a similar nature: personal attacks against opponents of the administration, including invectives against Vice President Leni Robredo, Jover Laurio of Pinoy Ako Blog, Senator Risa Hontiveros, and Senator Leila de Lima. Olivar previously enjoyed a moment of virality when he appeared with Uson in another video, shouting invectives directed to actress Cynthia Patag, who had just expressed support for Vice President Robredo. Olivar has since appeared on Uson's Facebook videos several times.
But both Olivar and Uson classically miss the point. Whether or not their game show was an official production, and whether or not it was funded by the government as part of the Con-Com's information drive, Uson is a public figure, and supposedly a public servant. By including this lewd dance number in a public discussion about federalism, she is doing her audience and the Filipino public a disservice. In small ways like this, Uson is reducing the tenor of public discourse about an issue of national importance to that of an asinine noontime variety show. Yes, public servants are supposed to reach out to their constituents in terms they can understand—but it should never have to cost the dignity of their office and message. Everyone can aspire to better. Even Tito Sotto does.