Opposition Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV on Wednesday confronted Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson on the issue of fairness, saying the latter has never tried to get his or the opposition's side despite her repeated attacks against them on her social media posts.
“Sa dami-dami ng mga blog mo tungkol sa’min dito, may isang beses ba na humingi ka ng side namin?” Aquino said during the Senate public information committee hearing on fake news. Aquino was referring to members of the Senate minority bloc.
Aquino repeatedly asked Uson, who answered that she was just a blogger and not a journalist, and that she was entitled to express her opinions in her personal blog. Uson runs the Facebook page Mocha Uson Blog.
When the senator demanded only for a "yes" or "no" from her, Uson initially refused to answer. Asked on what grounds was she refusing, Uson said: "Uh, I have the right to refuse that question," drawing laughter from the crowd.
Seemingly lecturing Uson, Aquino said: "No, no. You don't have the right to refuse... You have the right [against] self-incrimination."
Correcting herself, Uson responds: "I have the right to... I have a right... I have the right... ano po? I have the right to... against self- discri... ano, against self-incrimination... Sensya na."
When Aquino pressed further and asked what crime was she presupposing to have committed by invoking her right against self-incrimination, Uson said: “I refuse to answer that question at lumalayo na tayo sa fake news ng GMA 7."
Aquino said: “It’s a very simple question, yes or no lang po. Hiningian niya ba kami ng side? In the same way na hinihingi niya sa GMA News Online. You are asking that agencies be fair to you, binigyan mo ba kami ng fairness? Pwede bang bigyan mo din kami ng fairness?”
When Uson reiterated she was entitled to her opinion and was not under any obligation to get the side of people she writes about on her blog, Sen. Risa Hontiveros quoted Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar, Uson's superior, in a piece he had written as saying: "Bloggers have to follow journalists code of ethics. Straight from the horse's mouth."
PCOO Assistant Secretary Marie Banaag clarified that that was merely Andanar's opinion and was not yet considered policy in their office. She, however, admitted that she agreed with her boss' opinion.
Earlier in the hearing, Uson claimed GMA News did not try to get her side over a news report criticizing her for supposedly taking a selfie inside a mosque while in Marawi City.
According to Uson, GMA published fake news. She said she did not take a selfie and was merely documenting President Rodrigo Duterte’s trip to Marawi City at that time.
“Di ko alam kung sino ang source niyo... Papakita ko ang video at mapapahiya kayo sa sinasabi niyo,” Uson said.
GMA News Online editor-in-chief Jaemark Tordecilla said GMA had tried to get Uson’s side. The September 12 report, he explained, was based on the criticisms against Uson.
The report said Zia Alonto Adiong, who represents Lanao del Sur's first district in the ARMM Regional Assembly, had criticized Uson for allegedly taking a selfie inside a mosque with her boots on when Duterte visited the Grand Islamic Mosque in war-torn Marawi City last September.
"That's where Usec. (sic) Uson was taking selfie with her boots on," Adiong said.
Aside from wearing boots, Uson was also reportedly not wearing a hijab. — MDM, GMA News