Recycling government officials: Part 1,234

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"Uson's appointment is disappointing, disheartening, frustrating and infuriating."

 

So Mocha Uson has been recycled back into government. Did you expect anything else? I believed it was just a matter of time.

The erstwhile performer—the headline and subheads of journalist Alan Robles’ article yesterday in the South China Morning Post describes her as a “queen of fake news” and “model and sex coach” —resigned her position as Communications Assistant Secretary to run for Congress earlier this year under partylist AA-Kasosyo. She lost.

President Rodrigo Duterte recently appointed her to government again, this time as Deputy Executive Director of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

Critics raised the issue of the one-year ban against the appointment of failed election candidates. However, Commission on Elections spokesperson James Jimenez says the ban does not apply to party-lists or their nominees.

Be that as it may, the fait accompli Duterte pulled off was to reinstall Uson in a lucrative position that wields a certain degree of power and influence. Some sources say Uson’s present position is Salary Grade 29 in the government plantilla, with a monthly pay of about P155,000. Certainly there are perks: within a couple of days of her appointment, she was flying to Russia as part of the President’s entourage.            

This is not the first time that a person who was let go or left a government position has been quietly “recycled” into another post. Another high-profile example is Nicanor Faeldon, who was embroiled in the “shabu lifter” fiasco as Bureau of Customs commissioner and consequently stepped down.

He was later appointed to the Bureau of Corrections where he promptly became involved in the issue related to the abuse of the Good Conduct Time Allowance law. He was fired last month.

Is it possible that Faeldon will pop up again in some other government post? How many times must a person fail so abominably at their duty before Duterte ceases to recycle them?

Uson’s service at the Presidential Communications Operations Office was marred by a level of controversy incredible by any standard. She used her personal blog in an official capacity, posted photos and news items later debunked as fake or as misinformation, stridently conveyed ultra-partisan messages instead of striving to link polarized sectors in unity.

The straw that broke the camel’s back, in terms of public opinion, were her antics with her friend, so-called comedian Drew Olivar. They posted on social media videos mocking sign language and deaf people, as well as a lewd dance about federalism that analysts later said effectively tanked the issue’s momentum; the push for federalism, then running high, has now been indefinitely shelved. 

A huge sigh of relief from the general public greeted her resignation from PCOO to run for Congress. It is a measure of how few of her vaunted “five million followers” on social media actually supported her when she incurred a dismal loss in  the elections.

It seems that only her closeness to and influence over Duterte and others in power enable her to enjoy a presence in the current administration. Certainly she no longer possesses credibility nor relevance after her vulgar and crude behavior that point to her lack of qualifications to hold third-level government positions.

The appointment of Uson to such a significant post in OWWA is an affront and insult to civil servants and persons in the private sector who have wider experience and deeper knowledge, and who would have been more suited to the position.

For what do many in government pursue graduate degrees and undergo training courses, as required by the Civil Service Commission, if their capabilities and efforts will in effect be discounted by the capricious appointment of mediocre and disruptive personalities to sensitive positions? It’s disappointing, disheartening, and frustrating. Not only that, it is infuriating—nakakagalit.

We don’t need so-called celebrities and undeserving personalities in these top positions, but rather people with technical skill and knowhow. In just a few years, the culture of the technocrat in government—that slowly burgeoned during the time of Presidents Fidel Ramos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo—has been dismantled by this administration’s penchant for placing in power their allies rather than those who are actually qualified and can do the work.

Perhaps Uson has learned from her previous experience and will do better. Certainly for the clients of OWWA and Filipinos in general, we hope so. But I’m not holding my breath.

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