Poe asks: Is it time to ‘shut down’ Mocha Uson blog?
Because of possible conflict of interests, should Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson’s controversial blog be “shut down” or should she just stay in private sector so she could freely speak her mind?
Senator Grace Poe raised these questions at the resumption of the Senate committee on public information and mass media’s hearing on fake news on Tuesday.
Poe noted that Mocha’s role as assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and as a blogger at the same time might have “overlapped,” citing Section 7 of Republic Act 6713.
The law, she said, provides that public officials may engage in the private practice of their profession “unless authorized by the Constitution or law provided that such practice will not conflict o tend to conflict with their official functions.”
“It’s very hard to separate her own personal opinion from that of the PCOO. Have you ever considered, and I will ask this and I hope you will answer in all candidness that since her own private blog is also a way of expressing and communicating, that this indeed (is) overlapping with her official functions? Perhaps even using government time to be able to fulfill her work in her blog,” Poe said.
“Have you ever considered that perhaps this a conflict of interest and it should be shut down, Sir?” she asked, directing her question to PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar.
Responding to the question, Andanar said: “I’ve spoken to Mocha about it, Madam Chair, and we’ve also spoken about her freedom of expression and also her way of speaking on her own Facebook page and I’ve called her out a few times and she has also taken down a few remarks…”
While recognizing Andanar’s efforts to talk to Uson, Poe asked the PCOO chief what steps he had taken to assert his authority.
“Is there a suspension or is just merely a slap on the wrist…? So what do you do? What particular penalties or action do you take for employees?” she further asked.
The senator later added: “I think that Asec Mocha would be permitted to speak out should she be in the private sector.”
But Andanar argued that Uson had specific market to serve and “she has (been) serving the market well as far as the PCCO platforms are concerned.”
“Anong particular market at sabihin mo sa akin kung hindi nya ito magagawa bilang isang pribadong mamayan at hindi kawani ng gobyerno?” Poe asked Andanar.
Andanar then pointed out that based on social media analytics, Uson’s markets are overseas Filipino workers, and Classes C, D, and E of the society.
Besides, Andanar said, Uson would not be exempted from any law that in fact she was already charged with libel.
Poe later on clarified that she was not suggesting that Uson’s blog should be taken down but that she was just saying that her opinions as a blogger and her role as a public servant has created “confusion.” /kga
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