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CHR probes Mocha Uson and blogger’s ‘appalling’ sign language video

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has launched a probe into the controversial sign-language video of Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson and a controversial blogger.

In a statement on Wednesday, the CHR described the video as "appalling and unacceptable" especially since it involved a government official and a blogger affiliated with a government office.

"Our CHR-NCR office is already investigating the case as part of our mandate to protect the rights of the vulnerable sector, also in recognition of the complaint filed by the Philippine Federation of the Deaf," the CHR said.

"Such behavior is extremely degrading, derogatory, and further perpetuates discrimination of the vulnerable deaf people," the CHR added.

The human rights body emphasized that making a mockery of the sign language, a fundamental human right of the deaf community, was already a form of an attack to their dignity and makes them even more vulnerable in society.

The CHR noted that government officials must be at the forefront of promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities (PWDs).

"It needs to be underscored that public officials must adhere to the highest standards of conduct especially when it comes to the vulnerable sectors of society," the CHR said.

"Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6713 or Code of Conduct for Public Officials and Employees states that public officials and employees 'shall not discriminate against anyone, especially the poor and the underprivileged," it added.

In a September 14 video posted on the "Mocha Uson Blog" Facebook account, blogger Drew Olivar could be seen flailing his arms around in pretend sign language. He could also be heard making squeaking sounds.

Netizens, as well as non-governmental organization PWD Philippines, found Olivar's miming of an impaired person to be offensive.

In a 30-second video, Uson said she and Bolivar were formally apologizing for any offense the video had caused. She also requested the deaf community to accept her apology in sign language.

The CHR welcomed the apology of Uson and Olivar, however, it said the apology must be genuine and be coupled with a "full sense of accountability and concrete actions to rectify the wrong done."

The agency also called on the National Council on Disability Affairs to make a firm stand on the issue as the agency tasked to ensure the implementation of laws that protect and promote the welfare of PWDs.

Uson and Olivar's video was not their first to earn the ire of netizens and the public. The two earlier figured in another controversial video promoting federalism and posted on Uson's Facebook page, showing Olivar, who claims to post "satire posts" on his own page, performing a jingle where he said "I-pepe, i-pepe, i-dede, i-dede, pepe pepe pederalismo" while gesturing to his crotch and chest. — MDM, GMA News