Anti-Mocha Uson petition sparks debate on freedom of speech

MANILA, Philippines – An online petition to suspend the Facebook page of celebrity blogger Mocha Uson has sparked a debate about freedom of speech.

The petition, started on by a certain Paul Quilét over the weekend, has gathered more than 27,000 signatures as of early Monday evening, October 24.

The petition's description claims that Uson, a known supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, "uses her Facebook page to spread fictitious and false information about pressing issues in the Philippines" and "widens the rift between those who support the current administration and those who are critical of it."

Some, however, have criticized the petition, saying it infringes on Uson's freedom of speech.

They pointed out that instead of pushing for Uson's page to be banned, her critics should instead correct any information which they perceive to be "misleading" or "erroneous."

I dont really agree with the whole petition to shut Mocha Uson Blog in fb. Undemocratic. — Aivan Lloyd (@aivancalonia) October 24, 2016 Guys, much as I strongly disagree with her, I won't support the petition to ban Mocha Uson's blog. — Dave Tabaniag (@DaveTabaniag) October 24, 2016 Appalled by how many people are supporting the petition to shut down Mocha Uson's blog. Freedom of speech is still freedom of speech. — Dyahe Mendoza (@AihRealMonsters) October 24, 2016 I am reaaally not a fan of Mocha Uson... but the online petition to shut down her page feels kinda wrong? — Janus Novio (@JanusNovio) October 24, 2016 Isn't the online petition to take down Mocha Uson's page equivalent to censorship of free speech - the very rights we strive to uphold? — Paul Borja (@pulbora) October 24, 2016


In an update posted on Monday night, Quilét rejected the view that his petition curbs Uson's right to free speech.

"This petition aims not to curtail anyone's right to free speech. Bear in mind that the liberties listed in the Bill of Rights are not absolute," the update read.

Meanwhile, a counter-petition started by a certain Cheryl Anne has gotten more than 8,000 signatures as of posting.

The counter-petition states that Uson's Facebook page has "earned a lot of followers due to its ability to reach out to the common Filipino people giving honest and true information to the public."

It also claims media would "feed the people twisted news and wrong information" if Uson is "silenced." (READ: How Facebook algorithms impact democracy)

The celebrity blogger has more than 4.3 million followers on Facebook.

A little over a week ago, Ateneo de Manila University student publication Matanglawin urged Uson to use social media responsibly, after she posted personal information of the magazine's editor-in-chief and alleged that he was working for Rappler to attack her.

Matanglawin's lampoon issue had poked fun at Uson's Facebook page. –