Recitation remarks for Ms. Uson | Inquirer Opinion
Sunday, August 19, 2018
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Recitation remarks for Ms. Uson

/ 05:16 AM August 10, 2018

Let’s forget for a second the crassness of that federalism dance in the Mocha Uson video. We can even let slide the inanity of her retorts to the criticisms she has earned.

These aside, what made many of us cringe while watching that video is how poorly its stars explained federalism, at a time when information on this subject is crucial for the enlightenment of Filipino audiences. The fact that one of those stars, indeed the video’s originator, was Uson, no less than the assistant secretary for presidential communications, makes it even more facepalm-worthy.

It was like watching a paired-student presentation that was researched only right before class started. If I did that kind of presentation in my high school Araling Panlipunan class or in my college Social Marketing class, I’d definitely earn a raised brow from my teacher. And a C. If I’m lucky.

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I can imagine my teachers giving these remarks:

“Check your facts. Verify everything you put into your presentation. Are France and Singapore really federal countries? Inaccurate information casts serious doubts on your credibility and disservices your audience.”

“The rainbow simile is cute, but you’re not charming your way through this one. Your classmates are still confused as to what federalism is and how it would affect Filipinos. Do you have specific examples of what would happen if we switch to that mode of government? What are the pros and cons of this shift?”

And finally: “I suggest you rethink that dance routine if your goal is to help promote federalism.”

Uson reasons that the video was not part of any information drive for federalism, but only a portion of her online game show. Even Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar had to distance himself and the Palace from the video, saying Uson was never appointed as any sort of spokesperson for the federalism information campaign.

But does it matter? She’s a national public official whose primary task is to help promote to the masses what the government is doing. Millions of people listen to her not just on the news, but on social media as well. Whether giving a formal statement or hosting the crudest of crude game shows, such a government official is expected to be accurate and clear in her most basic responsibility: communication.

So Uson isn’t doing so well at her job. What do we want to see and hear from top communications officials like her?

We want none of the lazy, irresponsible, misleading content; we need verified information. This recent error on federal countries isn’t the first time Uson has been caught bungling her facts. Remember the photo of the Honduran police that she posted as a “symbolism” for our soldiers in Marawi? Or her post locating Mount Mayon in Naga?

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Her hordes of followers lap up content like these. Too many Filipinos have put their trust on this government official, Filipinos whose opinions and decisions depend on what she so confidently says. The least she can do is stick to the facts.

And, if it’s not too much to ask, we want our communications officials to help us understand how changes in the governmental landscape translate into our daily lives. How would federalism affect the laws we have to obey? How would the TRAIN Law change taxes and prices? What does the national ID system mean for us common citizens?

Many media outlets, government agencies and nongovernment organizations are doing a good job at explaining issues like these through in-depth reports, comprehensible primers and infographics that are easily shared on social media. Sadly, these aren’t the kind of content we see on the “Mocha Uson Blog” Facebook page. Instead, the page is filled with sensationalized stories and intentionally polarizing viewpoints.

Uson’s clout is a missed opportunity. This administration sorely needs a mouthpiece that is not only well-known, but also effective in communicating what citizens deserve to know. Sure, Uson knows how to make something go viral, but her notoriety brings no value to us. Filipinos learn nothing and understand even less from tawdry dances and cheap tricks.

To this, I can just hear my communication professors quoting McLuhan: “The medium is the message.” What’s your message, Asec?

hyacinthjt@gmail.com

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TAGS: federalism video, Mocha Uson
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