Philippine International Trading Corp. president and CEO Dave Almarinez on Tuesday defended the appointment of Margaux “Mocha” Uson as Assistant Secretary of the Presidential Communication Operations Office, saying people “should not judge the past activities” of the popular blogger and entertainer.
A staunch supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, Uson was appointed to the PCOO last week, moving the former leader of the so-called “Mocha Girls” from her previous post with the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.
Almarinez, whom Duterte appointed to the PITC last February, told Manila Standard in an exclusive interview that Uson’s past—as a model, leader of a sexy dance group, a columnist for men’s magazines, and a controversial blogger—wasn’t important compared to what she could do as a member of the Cabinet.
“Hindi naman importante ang nakaraan, importante ano ‘yung magagawa ni Asec Mocha. Ang importante ay mai-relay ‘yung tamang message sa mamamayan, that’s the main reason of Mocha’s [appointment, to tell the public], it’s for the people, what the President is doing,” the PITC chief said. [The past isn’t important, what’s important is what she can do. What’s important is she can relay the right message to the citizens.]
Detractors of both Duterte and Uson have accused the latter of spreading fake news, especially on social media, but Almarinez said the President would not appoint her without good reason.
“I think Asec Mocha is appointed by the President, and he knows the procedures and protocol,” he said. “About fake news she is just after sharing her own opinion. On the premise [of putting her in the] PCOO as Asec, we have follow the protocol.”
Almarinez said Uson’s experience was similar to his. “On my side, it’s OK for me to be part of the government service, because like her I’m newly appointed with the trust and confidence of the President.”
The PITC chief, who holds an Undersecretary rank in the Cabinet, said Uson was “a good add” to the PCOO “because she has more followers and influence [on social media]. “She is giving her best to serve to the government, and will give and write news in a timely fashion on the information coming from the President. So give her a chance.”
“Actually when I first met Mocha, she was very down to earth,” Almarinez said. “What you see from her on TV and on her blog, she’s entirely different from that. She’s very kind and is very careful with what she says, contrary to the criticisms of her. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion of her, of course.”
Because social media is “one of the biggest influences of the new generation” and Uson has made her name in that field, Almarinez said she should not be discredited. Her support of the President through her blog was one of the reasons Duterte won the last elections, he added.