MANILA, Philippines – Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said he respects the call of one of his department's officials for Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson to go on leave, but left it at that.
"I respect Mocha's freedom of expression, and I've been respecting that since day one. And I also respect the freedom of expression, the right to express himself, of Director-General Harold Clavite," Andanar said on Wednesday, August 8, in an interview with Radio Mindanao Network.
Andanar likened himself to the head of a family who must respect all views of his different family members.
"In a country or in a family, everyone has their own opinions. If your child has an opinion, you respect it. If another has an opinion, you respect that also," he said.
The evening before, Philippine Information Agency Director-General Harold Clavite called on Uson to go on leave and publicly apologize for her video of a lewd federalism jingle.
Clavite said the video offended him and was an embarrassment to other government workers. He also said the jingle disrespected women and mothers.
Andanar has been constantly questioned on whether or not Uson would be held accountable for what some have called a "vulgar" and "inappropriate" video that made light of federalism and the work of the Duterte-formed Consultative Committee (Con-Com).
So far, he, as Uson's superior, has given no explanation for the incident or what steps would be taken to prevent a repeat of the debacle. (READ: Is Mocha Uson above reprimand?)
Uson 'welcome' to help
Andanar, however, said Uson may still be part of the government's federalism information drive.
"Mocha is a Filipino citizen. She wants to help with federalism. As I said earlier, if you want to volunteer, you are more than welcome to volunteer. We will help you. We will train you," said Andanar.
He said there would be a "trainor's training" to ensure that all those part of the campaign would be "on the same page" when it comes to messaging and treatment.
The campaign will be spearheaded by an inter-agency group led by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, who himself was supposedly annoyed by Uson being associated with the information drive.
The group, said Andanar, has met only twice so far. It is set to hold another meeting on Friday, August 10. The group has yet to designate official spokespersons, but Medialdea wants "experts," including Con-Com members, to help out. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.