Mocha Uson to return UST alumni association award

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 24) — Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Margaux “Mocha” Uson said she will return the award from the University of Santo Tomas Alumni Association Inc. (USTAAI) despite the group’s decision not to rescind it.

“Ako po ay humahanga sa UST Alumni Association Inc. dahil sa kabila ng pambu-bully ng ilang Thomasians sa kanila sila ay nanindigan,” Uson said in her Facebook blog on Tuesday night.

[Translation: I admire USTAAI for standing by their decision despite the bullying of some Thomasians.]

The assistant secretary said the issue had been blown out of proportion when there are more important issues that need to be discussed.

“Pag-usapan na natin ang mahahalagang bagay tulad ng pagtulong sa mga naturukan ng Dengvaxia at panagutin ang mga may sala dito. Hindi na biro ito,” Uson said. “Pagtuunan din natin ang mga kababayan natin na naapektuhan sa pag-aalburuto ng bulkang Mayon. Let's all move on at tumulong tayo sa ating mga kababayan,” she added.

[Translation: We should talk about more important issues like how we can help those vaccinated by Dengvaxia. This is serious. We should also focus on those affected by Mayon Volcano. Let’s all move on and help our fellow Filipinos.]

USTAAI President Henry Tenedero, meanwhile, stepped down due to the issue, which received widespread criticism from members of the UST community, as well as from netizens.

“I doubt I will be effective until these things are settled. My moral ascendancy was seriously affected by this issue,” Tenedero said.

Uson will return the award through her assistant since she will be flying to India on Wednesday afternoon with the President, he added.

In a statement Tuesday night, the USTAAI said it is standing firm "with its decision not to rescind the recognition already confirmed."

 

The statement also said Tenedero takes "full responsibility on what has happened, thus, tendering his resignation."

It also absolved Asst. Prof. Ma. Cherry G. Man, director of UST's Office of Alumni Relations and UST Administration, of any responsibility, saying the move to give Uson the award was the group's initiative.

Firestorm of criticism

On Sunday, Tenedero said they gave Uson the TAGS to serve as an inspiration to other government workers, regardless of political affiliation.

While some lauded the USTAAI for their choice, others - including members of the UST community - were not so happy with it.

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

Through her Facebook blog, Uson said, ""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)."