By Argyll Cyrus Geducos, Ellson Quismorio and Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Malacañang wants serious discussions on federalism in a language that will be easily understood by the people while senators believe that antics and entertainment won’t work in the explanation of important issues such as federalism.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement following criticisms on the controversial “Pepedederalismo” dance that went viral in social media over the weekend.
Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson was criticized anew when pro-Duterte social media personality Drew Olivar made a lewd dance about federalism in Uson’s Facebook live video.
In his Monday morning press briefing, Roque said that if Uson’s intention was to raise awareness about the federal form of government, then she succeeded.
AKO-Bicol Party-List Rep. RodelBatocabe, Surigaodel Sur 2nd District Rep. Johnny Pimentel, and CIBAC Party-List Rep. Sherwin Tugnadisagreed with Roque. All reckoned that the dance did nothing to achieve the supposed purpose of raising awareness on federalism.0
“I think Mocha Uson had the best of intentions kasi gusto niya talaga na mapag-usapan ang pederalismo ng mga tao na pang-araw-araw, ‘yung mga mamamayan natin (because she wants the ordinary people to talk about it),” Roquesaid.
“Pero siguro ‘pag usaping pederalismo ang pag-uusapan, dapat siguro mas seryoso dahil ito po ay saligang batas, ang pinakamataas na batas sa ating bayan (But when it comes to federalism, discussions should me more serious because it is the constitution or the highest laws of the land),” Roque added.
The Palace official said that if it was up to him, he would have talked to the public about how federalism would help improve their lives.
But Batocabe, leader of the Party-List Coalition in the Lower Chamber, said: “It is a campaign that instead of achieving its purpose produced a different interpretation and highlighted nothing but private body parts.”
Pimentel, on the other hand, said the dance “wasn’t a good idea.”
“It’s not the right way to inform the people about federalism. They must find another way to disseminate information about federalism that is more appropriate so that the Filipino people will take the plan to amend the Constitution seriously,” added the chairman of the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability.
Tugna, Suffrage and Electoral Reforms panel chairman, said the whole thing was “done in bad taste.”
“[It’s] offensive to sensibilities and decency of Filipinos,” he added.
Uson, meanwhile, justified the “Pepedederalismo” dance, saying that she only wanted the people watching her blog to discuss charter change.
According to Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secrertary Martin Andanar, an annoyed Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea called him to say that experts should be the ones discussing federalism to the public.
“Executive Secretary Medialdea called me to say kailanganng spokesperson naekspertosa (we need an expert to serve as spokesperson for) federalism… We should ask the assistance of experts in the field of law and federalism,” he said.
“Medyo badtrip si Executive Secretary Medialdea kasi wala namang official announcement na may spokesperson ang federalism campaign (Executive Secretary Medialdea was somewhat irked because there was never an official announcement that there is a spokesperson for the federalism campaign),” he added.
Andanar said that Uson was never appointed to lead the federalism information drive.
“Asec Mocha was not appointed by the Pederalismo inter-agency. It was [Consultative Commission] spokesperson Ding Generoso’s own volition,” he said.
He added that he asked Generoso to stop engaging with Uson about federalism. He also revealed that the ConCom spokesperson never informed him about tapping Uson.
Like their colleagues in the Lower Chamber, senators expressed disapproval over the viral video clip of Uson and another blogger who danced a lewd jingle in their discussion of the proposed shift to a federal form of government.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III believes that federalism should not be taken lightly.
“You know me, I sometimes take some things lightly. Serious issues, highfalutin like that, can’t be taken jokingly or lightly. Perhaps if you are going to do it privately, it would be okay. But nothing is private in the internet, right?
Nothing is private in the internet, therefore it could not add to the information campaign of the government,” Sotto told reporters when asked about the video.
“One thing is certain: theatrical techniques could not work for such an issue of federalism,” he added.
Senate President Pro Tempore Recto took a swipe at the government communications official, who sarcastically described Uson as the “perfect endorser” for federalism.
Senator Francis Escudero, meanwhile, took to Twitter his comment against Uson’s video
“It is a desperate attempt to attract attention by intentionally offending our sense of propriety! It is downright vulgar and has no place in the public discourse on such an important issue as THEIR proposed shift to federalism & charter change!” he said.
For Senator Panfilo Lacson, Uson aggravated the Senate’s supposed stand of the proposed charter change and federalism, saying it could be “thrown far away.”
“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,” Lacson also tweeted.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan, for his part, called on PCOO Sec. Martin Andanar to explain on the “indecency and disrespect” committed by his men.
With Uson’s new blunder, Senator Grace Poe said the PCOO, in addition should also justify the proposed P100-million increase in its 2019 budget.
“The PCOO must justify its budget increase. What are the deliverables? Are memes and blogs also hit by inflationary spikes? Is the cost of feeding the nation with government information adversely affected by TRAIN, too? Will the PCOO be hiring campaigners to explain federalism?” she asked.
Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said the video was done “in bad taste.” “I hope it doesn’t happen again,” he added.
Earlier, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel hit Uson for what he described as a “bullshit” manner of explaining federalism to the public.
“Continue to be an ASec of the PCOO, continue to take advantage of your blog, but do not, in the meantime, involve yourself in promoting federalism until you have studied very well. Aral muna,” he told Uson.