UST alumni association awards Mocha Uson for gov't service

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 21) — The Thomasian alumni community honored several government officials on Sunday, including Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Margaux "Mocha" Uson.

University of Santo Tomas (UST) Alumni Association President Henry Tenedero said they gave Uson the Thomasian Award for Government Service (TAGS) to serve as an inspiration to other government workers, regardless of political affiliation.

"Who are we, the UST Alumni Association, to judge your — whatever — sense of morality? That's why we are giving you the award to inspire you to lead," said Tenedero of Uson.

He also clarified the award given to Uson is different from the Outstanding Thomasian Alumni Leadership Awards, the "highest award bestowed by the university."

"TAGS, initiated by the UST Alumni Association, is envisioned to inspire and challenge the recipients to lead the Thomasian core values of compassion, competence, and commitment," Tenedero said in a statement.

Uson told CNN Philippines she is grateful for the award.

"It is a great honor for me that my Alma Mater recognizes my efforts to fight for change in our country. If my stay in UST has taught me something, it is to fight for what I believe in, regardless of the difficult obstacles ahead," she said.

The 35-year-old blogger graduated with a Bachelor's degree in medical technology from UST in 1998, and took up medicine the year after. She dropped out on her second year to pursue her musical career.

Other awardees include Senator Joel Villanueva, Health Secretary Francisco Duque, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio, and Akbayan Party-list Rep. Tom Villarin.

Some netizens said Uson deserved the award.


Social media backlash

However, not everyone was happy with the assistant secretary's award.

The UST Central Student Council, in a statement, said it "strongly denounces" the decision to honor Uson.

"We express our dismay over this even as Mocha Uson does not, in any way, embody the ideals of a real Thomasian, and with all due respect," it said.

The group Movement Against Tyranny, who called the PCO assistant secretary "the Duterte regime's queen of fake news," asked the UST community to wear black on Monday to protest the award.

Some netizens also said there are more alumni worthy of the recognition.



But Uson has a message to her "bashers."

"Ang patuloy ninyong pang babash ay patunay lang na may freedom of expression/speech sa ating bayan (Your continuous bashing proves there is freedom of expression/speech in our country)," Uson said through her Facebook blog.

Uson, a vocal supporter of the Duterte administration, was first appointed as a board member of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board in January 2017.

She was then appointed to the Presidential Communications Operations Office as Assistant Secretary for Social Media in May.

Her controversial "Mocha Uson Blog" was subject of a Senate inquiry on fake news in October, as she has been repeatedly accused of peddling wrong information.