IT IS appalling that while the University is promoting “Veritas in Caritate” (Latin for “Truth in Charity”), its own alumni association has given a newfangled set of awards, “Thomasian Alumni Awards for Government Service,” and given one to Esther Margaux “Mocha” Uson, the controversial assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office. Uson is a member of the sexy dance group Mocha Girls and a social-media “influencer” with at least five million Facebook followers. She had campaigned for President Duterte and she has been rewarded by a Malacañang post which, technically, makes her a presidential mouthpiece. From such orifice has emerged a slew of fake news, distorted views, blatant lies, and Nazi-like propaganda.
Uson is barely eight months into Malacañang, and it is to her credit that she has made that much damage on the truth. And it is to the credit (or discredit?) of the UST Alumni Association Inc. (UAAI) that she had been rewarded for such. The UAAI’s vicious decision to award her came after it considered only two vacuous factors: first, Uson occupies a pivotal role in the government, and second, she was a graduate of UST Medical Technology in 1999.
In a statement, UAAI President Henry Tenedero said awardees were handpicked by presidents of alumni associations of the different faculties and colleges and the awards were given by the association as an “independent organization.”
Tenedero’s statement should underscore that what Uson got was not the annual Total (The Outstanding Thomasian Alumni) Award. The Total Awards observe rigid nomination and selection process by alumni committees and experts. Awardees may also be vetoed by the Office of the Father Rector (Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, OP), which gives the final clearance on the awards.
The special awards last Jan. 21 did not follow such a process. They were merely invented just for the general alumni homecoming. (The Total Awards usually have an awarding ceremony all to itself and recipients are announced in advance.) Tenedero said that the UAAI did not even mind if the awardee was “controversial or not.” “Ang amin lang is that you’re a Thomasian graduate,” he told the Varsitarian. “[We are] hoping that this award will inspire you to live [the Thomasian core values] more in your public [service]. Whether you’re living it or not is not for us to say.”
How could the awards inspire Thomasians when they weren’t really given for “Thomasian core values” but for landing a pivotal, high-paying, high-profile government job which, as the continuous pilgrimage to Davao City shows, could be obtained by influence-peddling and hucksterism?
Whatever happened to UST’s enshrined values of “commitment, competence, and compassion”? Whatever happened to “truth in charity.”
How dare the UAAI tarnish the University’s name with such useless and baseless award!
Certainly, UST has produced outstanding civil servants and government officials and among them would be Uson’s co-awardees: Sen. Joel Villanueva, Health Secretary and former Civil Service Commission Chairman Francisco Duque III, Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier, Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin and 15 others. But now caught amid the controversy of Uson’s dubious selection and the rather shallow screening criteria, they may not feel honored but rather, insulted and even disgraced—sentiments shared by the entire Thomasian community.
In the first place, why would they even bestow a “government service award”—the only award given during the “homecoming”, for that matter—in the midst of a controversial administration that purveys anti-Catholic statements and programs?
Worse they gave it to Uson, who does not only turn a blind-eye on Duterte’s human rights abuses but also viciously attacks the Catholic Church. In her column in the Philippine Star, she asked if the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) was “anti-Christ” for speaking against extrajudicial killings and the Marcos burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. When the president wanted to reinstate death penalty, she declared that “death penalty is not murder.” In 2011, she had challenged the Catholic Church to “excommunicate her” for supporting the then reproductive health (RH) bill while giving away condoms in a pro-RH bill parade.
As part of an all-girl sexy dance group pandering to the prurient instincts of men, Uson would hardly be well-regarded by either Catholic or feminist sensibilities. But in January 2016, she was appointed board member of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board and she vowed to eradicate “soft core pornography” on television.
But given a chance herself for a broadcast stint early 2016 with her own 30-minute radio-TV show on DZRH News, she lasted for only a month and taken off the air for her foul, profane language in attacking Vice President Leni Robredo and the press.
She later faced a complaint from the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas for alleged violations of the KBP Broadcast Code particularly on “programs intended to malign, unfairly criticize or attack a person,” and for “offensive, obscene, blasphemous, profane, and vulgar double meaning words and phrases.” DZRH required her to take a broadcast accreditation exam if she wanted to go back on air. She didn’t take the exam, she went straight to Malacañang. Last May, Duterte appointed assistant secretary for social media, a post created just for her. There’s no evidence she has civil service eligibility yet she has joined other civil-service eligibles with the salary grade of SG 29 or with a monthly basic gross salary of P106,000. We could only guess how much discretionary funds she has as a Malacañang official. That’s what Filipino taxpayers pay her to mouth lies and Duterte’s genocidal propaganda.
And the president, who always mouths platitudes about selfless public service and how he embodies his own platitudes, does not mind using public funds to invent a government position for his lapdog. “Utang na loob ko ‘yan sa kanya,” Duterte said when he appointed Uson.
Amid the controversy surrounding the killing of Kian de los Santos last year, Uson shared an article from the Inquirer.net about a police’s wake, challenging Vice President Robredo and other senators to visit. It turned out that the article was a report from the previous year. When students of St. Scholastica’s College joined the protest against the Marcos burial, she claimed without proof they were forced by the institution. At the height of the Marawi crisis, she posted a photo of soldiers from Honduras captioned, “Let’s pray for our army.” Asked about the misuse of the photo, she said it was mere “symbolism.” And she’s a Malacañang mouthpiece!
Since her appointment, “Mocha Uson Blog” has posted even fiercer attacks against critics of the Madman of Malacañang to its 5.4 million followers; their language and truth-value even fouler and murkier than the effluents and waters of the Pasig’s.
But as a shocking indication of the steep decline in literacy and overall IQ of the general population, Uson’s followers consider her “news and views” as trustworthy, unbiased and reliable. Mocha and her followers are proof of what Hitler’s propaganda chief Goebbels had cynically declared: “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.”
Alumni leadership should resign
A mere cursory survey of Uson’s work should have alerted any ordinary alumnus that she’s too controversial for UST’s usually prudential and Catholic tastes. But for the entire UAAI leadership to have ignored her dubious track record and the controversy it had elicited (“We don’t mind if awardee is controversial or not,” said Tenedero) is sheer incompetence, irresponsibility, stupidity, and even corruption.
Yes, corruption of values, as manifested in the casual disregard of all evidence of monstrous, is evil conduct. It was the same corruption that made the Germans ignore Hitler’s vicious demagoguery and monstrousness. It’s the corruption resulting from what Hannah Arendt called as “banality of evil.”
In giving the award with UST’s name on it to Uson, UAAI has manifested banality of evil and perpetuated a libel on UST. It has perpetuated a lie. We need not go far in consulting philosophical and theological authorities here. Let’s take it from St. Thomas Aquinas: (Question 110 of ST, Part 2, Vol. 2) “If it affects a human person’s good, this lie inflicts an injury on one’s neighbor, since it causes him to have a FALSE OPINION, wherefore it is contrary to charity, as regards the love of our neighbor, and consequently is a MORTAL SIN.”
For its libel on UST and abetting assault on the truth, the UAAI leadership should resign.