“It’s high time for you to decide kung gusto mong maging blogger o maging Asec,” (It’s high time for you to decide if you want to be a blogger or an assistant secretary) Sen. Nancy asked Mocha Uson during today’s fake news hearing. This is a question that Mocha seemed to evade as she continuously defended that the content she posts on her blog are merely her opinions; that she was just exercising her freedom of speech.
What Mocha probably doesn’t realize is that she now holds a position at the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO). That her words and influence are now stronger than ever, so posting fake news and promoting hate are unbecoming of a government official. It was unacceptable even before she got that position.
“Hindi naman po ako aware na bawal na pala ako magpahayag ng opinyon,” (I wasn’t aware that I’m not allowed to air my opinions) Mocha told the Senate. But that’s the thing: No one in that room was stopping her from expressing her views. In fact, they encouraged her to use her platform for more productive and unbiased discussions instead of making accusatory remarks toward every person she disagrees with. She was also told to be more discerning of the information she shares.
Freedom of speech doesn’t entail us to become total a**holes. It’s being open to criticism and listening to other people’s opinions without disrespecting their views. It’s also about being accountable for what you say, especially if you’ve offended someone. And no, saying that you’re also a victim of fake news doesn’t erase your faults as well.
That’s also something that Mocha needs to learn more about: accountability. While she admitted to sharing false stories on her Facebook page, she also made excuses for them. On sharing a photo of the Honduran soldiers in light of the Marawi siege, she said she was simply moved by the photo of praying soldiers. She’s apologetic? It’s debatable.
Again, it goes back to Mocha’s choosing to be an outspoken blogger or a responsible government official. Sen. Antonio Trillanes emphasized that she should draw a line in expressing her views. Sen. Bam Aquino also reminded her to be fair in her pronouncements, especially with her habit of bombarding the Liberal Party with accusations and hate speech.
A change in Mocha’s ways may not happen overnight, but it’s also not impossible. I also hope that she keeps her promise to fight fake news instead of being the source of them.
Art by Lara Intong
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