Palace officials, senators and members of the Consultative Committee that drafted a federal constitution expressed disgust Monday at a video posted by Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson that used female body parts as a mnemonic device to promote federalism.
In the video posted Sunday afternoon on her Facebook page, Uson is seen cheering as her co-host, Andrew Olivar sings “I-pepe” and “I-dede”—referring to the vagina and breasts—while dancing and pointing to his crotch and chest, before exclaiming “I-pederalismo!”
“I did not anticipate that they will disrespect the cause of federalism,” said Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, who said he was disappointed that “the best and the brightest appointed to this government can come up with only that kind of bullshit.”
“I know the concept of federalism is hard but let us not disrespect it by connecting it to body parts,” he said.
Con-Com member Ranhilio Aquino described the video as “vulgar” and “inappropriate.”
“It used toilet humor in relation to a very serious document and I really dislike that because the constitution is really something so fundamental to the life of the nation that you cannot deal with it with levity like that,” Aquino told the online news site Rappler.
Senator Francis Escudero said the federalism jingle was a desperate attempt to attract attention “by intentionally offending” the public’s sense of propriety.
It is downright vulgar and has no place in the public discourse on such an important issue as their supposed shift to federalism and Charter change,” Escudero said.
He added that the Senate will hold the PCOO to account for every centavo the government spends on the federalism campaign.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Uson’s nominal boss, acknowledged that the video irritated Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, but said it was Con-Com spokesman Ding Generoso who asked her to get involved in the campaign to promote federalism.
“Before that video was posted, there were already…. criticisms about her,” Andanar said, referring to Uson. “[The executive secretary’ told me that federalism is a very serious matter [and]… we need spokespersons who are really experts on the subject, like members of the Con-Com.”
Andanar said he had already told Generoso to stop using Uson for the campaign on federalism, and said her blog did not represent the PCOO.
He said Uson was neither an ambassador nor a spokesperson for federalism.
Criticism of the Uson video continued to pour on Monday.
Former elections commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said he found the video disturbing.
“The problem is some people think advocating for federalism is a joke… spending taxpayers’ money while monkeying around. They should be flushed down the toilet for using toilet humor,” Larrazabal said.
Opposition Senator Francis Pangilinan said Andanar should explain the indecency and lewdness in his department involving his people using the government time and resources.
Senator Cynthia A. Villar said federalism is a serious matter and must be discussed in a decent manner.
“If it is not seriously presented, then Cha-cha [Charter change] would not be seriously taken,” she said.
Senator Nancy Binay urged Malacañang to ask those who have no official business to speak on behalf of the Consultative Committee “to disengage from all activities relating to the information campaign about federalism.”
Instead of spending P90 million for federalism campaign, Binay said, the government could have used the funds for children’s health care.
Last week, Binay asked Uson to attend a Senate hearing on Charter change and explain how she would promote and explain federalism to the people.
Senator Grace Poe called on Malacañang’s communications department to justify its proposed budget for next year, noting that the PCOO would get a P100-million increase even as other agencies would get deep cuts in their allocations.
Reacting to the criticism, Uson said she was not an ambassador for federalism.
“I am only one of those who are helping on the campaign to promote federalism on social media,” Uson said in a Facebook video posted Sunday night. “I wasn’t the one dancing in the video. It was [my co-host] Andrew Olivar.”
“Before the representative of the ConCom and the communications group of the Department of the Interior and Local Government talked to me about federalism, we already shot this video and we have been doing this for a long time now,” said, adding that no money was spent on the video.
Generoso, on the other hand, said he never asked Uson to be a spokesperson for federalism, but only planned to have her “write something about federalism in her column and blog or interview some people about federalism, which can help in raising public awareness about federalism.”
“It is unfortunate that the sort of video was posted the day before our meeting with Ms. Uson last Friday together with the DILG communications group to clarify the matter and discuss how she could help in the info drive,” she said. “It is certainly not the way to present federalism.”