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Monday, July 15, 2024

Funny not funny–why Mocha should go

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Mocha and Drew struck again. After their controversial pepe-dede-pepedederalismo video on federalism that made social media explode with criticism, Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson and her friend blogger Drew Olivar are again in hot water—this time, for making fun of and mimicking sign language, the very same means by which deaf and mute persons use to communicate with each other, and the rest of the world.

Persons with disabilities are protected from discrimination, ridicule, insults, and mockery under the Magna Carta for PWDs or Republic Act No. 7277. The society of deaf people, the Philippine Federation of the Deaf, has filed a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights against Uson, a ranking government official. Another complaint was filed by the same group with the Office of the Ombudsman. The PFD said that Uson’s and Olivar’s actions mocked and insulted not only the deaf but all PWDs.

Uson and Olivar have since apologized admitting that their video was disrespectful. However, the PFD rejected the apology and is bent on pursuing its complaint. The organization said that such rejection reflects what their members want.

Sec. 39 of RA 7277 defines Public Ridicule as, “an act of making fun or contemptuous imitating or making mockery of persons with disability whether in writing, or in words, or in action due to their impairment/s.” Moreover, Sec. 46 of the same law penalizes first offenders with fines of not less than PhP50,000.00 but not exceeding PhP100,000.00, or imprisonment of not less than six months but not more than two years, or both at the discretion of the Court.

Clearly, what Uson and Olivar did was a violation of the law. The thing is, Uson is not an ordinary person. She holds a key government position. Thus, she may be subject to disciplinary action and this seems to be what PFD is after.

Perhaps Uson does not have an inkling of why her and Olivar’s antics were far from being funny. Unlike ordinary people, PWDs’ lives are made significantly more difficult because of their conditions. Whereas, people normally express themselves through spoken word, this is not the case for the deaf and the mute. Their inability to communicate results in their marginalization and exclusion from society. Their access to education is quite limited and opportunities for development and advancement are very rare.

Sign language is very important to them. This is the means for them to be educated and know what’s happening in their country and the world. Otherwise, they will remain ignorant. It is their way of communicating with others so they are also able to socialize, make friends, and build relationships. It is their way of expressing themselves so they can understand and be understood. Sign language is their means to survive, not a laughing matter.

The Magna Carta for PWDs is there to provide solutions to problems faced by PWDs, facilitate their substantial participation in society, respect their rights, and prohibit discriminatory and abusive behavior against them. The law is there so our society becomes inclusive.

Uson seems to be oblivious of the law and ignorant about human rights and political correctness. She was laughing and enjoying the antics of Olivar, had it recorded on video, and posted on social media for everyone to see. She is an official of the PCOO, the office that takes care of Malacañang’s communications, where political correctness and respect for people’s rights must be part of standard operating procedures.

What did Uson want to accomplish in doing that video? Did she want people to laugh as she did? Joke-joke lang ba like what her boss does? What was the message she wanted to impart? I did not see any. Did she simply want people to emulate her and Olivar, and also mock and ridicule deaf people? Is this her idea of fun?

I seriously do not see any good reason for such video. I can understand the pepe-dede-pepedederalismo video. It was Uson’s attempt to lighten the complex and unfamiliar issue of federalism though the means was unacceptable. This one on PWDs has absolutely no use except to make fun of, and thereby, mock deaf and mute persons.

Uson has been given all the chances to prove herself. She has been in government for two years and surely, this is more than enough time for her to learn her responsibilities. She does not show that she has learned any. Instead, she continues to bring shame not only to her person, the office she holds, but the entire government.

Uson’s salaries of more than P100,000 a month excluding perks are paid for by people’s hard-earned money, including taxes paid by PWDs, and she gives us this. She does not deserve a centavo of what she gets.

With all the problems Uson has caused this administration, it’s puzzling why she is still in PCOO. Some people think she is untouchable. PCOO chief Martin Andanar even said that only President Duterte can discipline her. When asked about this issue of mocking PWDs, Presidential Spokesperson said that they would not oppose it if the Ombudsman orders the removal of Uson.

What people want is for Duterte to fire Uson. Funny or not, it is time for her to go.

@bethangsioco on Twitter Elizabeth Angsioco on Facebook“‹

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