By Camille A. Aguinaldo, Reporter
COMMUNICATIONS Assistant Secretary Esther Margaux “Mocha” J. Uson has announced her resignation and hinted possible plans to run in the 2019 midterm elections.
Ms. Uson made this disclosure at the Senate budget hearing on her agency on Wednesday, about a week before the deadline period for the filing of candidacies for next year’s elections.
Ms. Uson said her resignation was prompted by some members of the House of Representatives who were allegedly withholding the budget of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) due to her repeated absence in the budget deliberations by that chamber.
“Every year, I have been told not to criticize lawmakers so the PCOO budget will not be withheld. Even though the present system angers me, it should be followed. So I will sacrifice myself so the budget of PCOO is passed. I have decided to resign,” she said in Filipino during the Senate budget hearing.
Her resignation letter released by Malacañang on Wednesday was dated Sept. 28 and indicated that she has resigned effective Oct. 1. This was around the time she went to New York to attend the 73rd United Nations General Assembly with officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Asked whether she intends to run in the midterm polls, Ms. Uson said she was open to run for the Senate or the House of Representatives. During the hearing, she said she would bring her fight against abusive lawmakers to the two chambers of Congress.
“Senate or Congress? Just like what the President told me, let the people decide. Our kababayan are in Facebook so let’s see their sentiments there,” she told reporters.
Now a private citizen, Ms. Uson vowed that she would intensify her efforts to defend President Rodrigo R. Duterte from critics, saying “abangan niyo na lang po, may blog naman ako so raratsada tayo du’n, bakbakan na talaga ito (let us watch out, I have a blog anyway so we will step up there, this is really war).”
Sought for comment, presidential spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said, “I wish her the best, I’ll miss her. But she did make it clear that she’ll continue her advocacy. Lagot silang lahat kay (they’re going to be in trouble with) Mocha Uson.”
In a statement, the Vice-President’s spokesperson Ibarra M. Gutierez reminded Ms. Uson that she should be held accountable over her attacks against the President’s critics despite her resignation. The former Palace official has repeatedly criticized Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo, who also chairs the opposition Liberal Party.
“There are many times that Mocha Uson has shown that she does not understand and she is not ready to perform the duties of a public servant. This is why her resignation is not a loss for the country. She should not make the mistake in thinking that just because she resigned, she will not be held accountable for all her lies and libelous statements,” Mr. Gutierrez said in Filipino.
Asked for comment on Ms. Uson’s plan to rail against critics, opposition Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV told reporters, “That is her right and that is really the situation during campaign period….I don’t see anything wrong with that and in fact, it’s more appropriate for her to do that now she is no longer in government.”
Also at the budget hearing, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III proposed the revival of Malacañang’s Office of the Press Secretary to replace the PCOO. He said Congress can allot the budget of the PCOO into the Office of the Press Secretary.
“The perspective of some members of the Senate is that we have completely digressed already from the original intent of the creation of the Press Secretary….Perhaps this is the best time to study, while studying your budget, to review and study the possibility of reverting it back into the Office of the Press Secretary,” Mr. Sotto said.
Mr. Roque said the decision to bring back the Press Secretary’s office will have to come from the President.
“Well, I will bow to the wisdom of our legislators. I understand that was actually the system and I noticed the pictures in the stairways they are all press secretaries. But that will have to be a decision to be made also by the President because the creation of PCOO is by reason of an executive order, power of the President to reorganize the bureaucracy.” — with Arjay L. Balinbin
By Camille A. Aguinaldo, Reporter