Palace: Mocha Uson can still be part of federalism info drive

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 23) — Presidential communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson is still welcome to join the government's information campaign on federalism, despite the uproar stirred by her controversial video on the topic.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a press briefing on Thursday revealed Uson "has not been attending the inter-agency meetings on the dissemination [drive]."

"So if she attends, I suppose she can be one of the disseminators," Roque said.

He added the government continues to conduct "formal training" to those joining the campaign for federalism.

Uson was earlier tapped to spread awareness on the proposed shift to a federal form of government. But the idea was strongly opposed by many lawmakers, government officials and netizens after she posted an August 2 video described by many as vulgar.

The video shows blogger Drew Olivar playing with the word federalism using racy terms and gesturing towards female private parts - all to Uson's cheering.

Malacañang has said President Rodrigo Duterte was "very cool" about the video, but added the President agreed the information campaign should have a more serious tone. The Presidential Communications Operations Office later issued a memorandum reminding its officials and employees to watch their behavior on social media.

Uson, for her part, said what's important is federalism is being talked about.

"Kung napapag-usapan ngayon, masama man o mabuti, ay ipaliwanag naman po ng mga eksperto. Take this opportunity na ipaliwanag na po ang pederalismo," she told CNN Philippines.

[Translation: "If this is being talked about now, whether good or bad, experts should explain it. Take this opportunity to explain what federalism is."]

The shift to federalism was among the promises Duterte made during his 2016 presidential campaign. He believes it would pave the way for more equitable distribution of wealth and political power throughout the regions and bring lasting peace in Mindanao.

The Social Weather Stations survey for the first quarter of 2018 showed only 25 percent of Filipino adults have been aware of the federal system, while 75 percent only knew what it is upon answering the survey.