Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has caused a stir by appointing Margaux Justiniano Uson, a blogger known for posting “sexy” videos on social media, his new assistant secretary of the Presidential Communication Operations Office. “Mocha,” as she is known, will run the federal government’s social media.
Uson joins Secretary Martin Andanar, who runs the PCCO, and Ernesto Abella, Duterte’s spokesman on the communications team. She became well-known on Facebook running her personal page, Mocha Uson Blog, which began as a page where she posted videos of her dancing and sex advice videos but morphed into a political page during the 2016 Philippine presidential campaign. Uson is well-known for her embrace of Duterte’s presidential policies.
The Philippine Star notes that the 34-year-old first rose to fame as the head of the “all-female dance group Mocha Girls” and later “appeared in sexy films and sex instructional videos.” Her career direction appeared to change in 2016, as she became one of the most vocal supporters of Duterte on the internet.
The regional website Rappler notes that Uson’s support for Duterte’s law and order platform appears to stem from personal experience. Her father, Judge Oscar Uson, was assassinated in 2002, and police never arrested anyone for the crime. Rappler notes that the Uson family blames two bodyguards who worked for a local mayor and had alerted police repeatedly to death threats before his murder.
Uson also repeatedly attacked the mainstream media of the Philippines during the 2016 campaign, dismissing them as “presstitutes” and urging followers to question news reports. Duterte himself has a contentious relationship with his nation’s media and vowed not to conduct interviews with reporters until his presidential term ends in 2022. Duterte had previously courted controversy with the statement, “just because you’re a journalist, you are not exempted from assassination if you’re a son of a bitch.”
Uson said in an interview that she was “humbled” by the appointment and cited social media as a way to address protests by citizens, “especially those workers who were not given attention during the last administration,” that the government was not listening to them.
Duterte defended the appointment of Uson as a natural hiring given her adeptness with social media. “There’s nothing wrong with the woman or the girl. She’s bright. She’s articulate. And if it’s just a matter of dancing, she was not dancing naked,” Duterte told reporters this week. “During the campaign, (she was) a little bit sexier than the other, but that does not (allow) anybody to deprive her of the honor that she deserves.”
“There’s no law that says if you expose half of your body, with shorts and bra, you are disqualified,” he argued.
According to Reuters, Uson is known for “blogging about sex advice and masturbation and for posting revealing photographs on social media.” Uson shared the Reuters article on her Facebook page with the caption, “they can’t get over the sexy dancer [thing].” The Star notes that “Uson has urged critics to just respond to her views and not to dwell on her past.”
This is not Uson’s first collaboration with the Duterte government. In April, she accompanied the president on his trip to the Middle East, which Abella defended to reporters as a necessary step to “boost morale and well-being” among the Philippine citizens working in Gulf states whom Duterte was visiting.
“She has a large following among the overseas Filipino communities, especially in the Middle East, and it is in their interest that she has come to help boost morale and well-being,” Abella argued.