FAST FACTS: Who is Mocha Uson?

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – From sexy star to political blogger to a member of the Duterte administration.

Mocha Uson was appointed assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) on Monday, May 8. Her appointment was announced the following day. 

In her new role, Uson will help in relaying the government's accomplishments and messages to Filipinos and to the media, which she had previously criticized and called "presstitutes" – a play on the words "press" and "prostitutes." (READ: How Facebook algorithms impact democracy)

Uson's compensation will fall under Salary Grade 29, equivalent to a monthly basic gross salary of at least P106,454, excluding allowances and bonuses.

Before taking on the PCOO post, she was a board member of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB). Her term at the censors board started in January 2017 and was supposed to end on September 30, 2017. 

Born Margaux Justiniano Uson, 34-year-old Mocha Uson gained popularity as the leader of the Mocha Girls, an all-female dance group.

She previously gave sex tips in a series of online videos. She also stirred controversy for the ways she showed her support in causes like breast cancer awareness and the passage of the then-Reproductive Health Bill.

Uson earned a degree in medical technology from the University of Santo Tomas, then attended medical school in the same university for two years before dropping out to pursue a career in the music industry.

During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Uson shed her and the Mocha Girls' racy image and rallied fellow supporters of Rodrigo Duterte – who was eventually elected president – during campaign sorties and in social media through her Facebook page Mocha Uson Blog, which now has over 5 million likes.

One of the reasons behind Mocha's support for Duterte, whom she believes would end criminality in the country, was the failure of justice in her father's death. 

Mocha's father is Judge Oscar Uson, who was assigned to the local court in Tayug, a 3rd-class municipality in Pangasinan. Previously published reports said Uson was assassinated in 2002 by 4 hit men while heading home from work in Asingan town.

The 56-year-old judge was said to have been receiving death threats, prompting him to carry a gun instead of hiring a bodyguard. This did not stop his assailants who reportedly shot him thrice – twice in the chest and one below his left ear. Uson's family claimed two bodyguards of a mayor killed him.

Appeals by family members to then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to bring his attackers to justice yielded nothing. 

After serving year and 5 months as Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) assistant secretary, Mocha Uson announced her resignation. This was during the PCOO budget hearing at the Senate on Wednesday, October 3.

Controversies

Uson's stint as communications assistant secretary was marred by controversies.

She has been criticized for spreading false and misleading news on her Facebook page, and for using her supposed personal blog platform for government work.

Complaints had been filed against Uson over inaccurate and false information posted on her blog. In September 2017, opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV filed 6 criminal charges and an administrative complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against Uson for spreading "fake news" about his alleged offshore bank accounts and for other alleged unlawful acts.

Trillanes accused Uson of violating Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. 

In 2017, Uson continued to perform with the Mocha Girls at the Resorts World Manila's Casino, violating Malacañang's Memorandum Circular No. 6 which prohibits officials and employees from being seen inside casinos.

In August 2018, lawmakers and members of the Consultative Committee for a draft federal constitution hit Uson over a controversial federalism video, where co-host blogger Drew Olivar performed a "lewd" dance and jingle supposedly to raise awareness on federalism.

Her most recent blunder, also involving Olivar, involved a video which showed the latter mimicking sign language. This prompted a complaint against Olivar before the Ombudsman and renewed calls from various groups and educational institutions that she be sacked.– Rappler.com