Philippines Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Margaux “Mocha” Uson is reportedly giving up dance commitments in Manila casinos following a firestorm of media criticism for her presence in casinos this week.
President Rodrigo Duterte hired Uson, who runs a “pro-administration sexy dance group” known as the “Mocha Girls,” after her personal Facebook page began posting supportive campaign messages for Duterte in 2016.
Uson began performing with the Mocha Girls at Duterte campaign events and attacking opponents on social media; her support continued after his election in 2016. The Philippine government prohibits its employees, particularly senior employees like Uson, from being present in casinos, claiming such an act creates the appearance of impropriety.
Reports surfaced this week that Uson had been spotted at the Resorts World Manila performing with her dance troupe, which specializes is scantily clad routines set to house and hip-hop music. The outlet Rappler confirmed with the casino that Uson was scheduled to perform on Tuesday.
Malacanang, the Philippine presidential palace, confirmed that Uson was present and that she would receive a warning not to enter casinos, as it is against Malacanang policy. “The law is clear, and Secretary [Martin] Andanar has discussed with Asec. Uson why we must discourage her from performing in casinos,” Ernesto Abella told reporters on Friday. “Those in government must avoid being seen in such places.”
The Philippine Star notes that a recent memorandum to all staff at Malacanang warned that being present in a casino creates a “negative effect on the public perception of government service as a whole.”
“The mere entry or presence of government officials and employees in a gambling casino shall be considered as conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service,” the memo read.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told reporters that a ban on entering casinos does not mean that Uson cannot continue her previous career as a sultry dancer. Given the abrupt nature in which she was hired, Uson reportedly requested permission to perform in various venues with which she had signed contracts prior to becoming part of the administration.
“Mocha asked permission to honor her entertainment contracts when she joined government. Anyhow, we are still looking into the matter of Mocha performing inside RW,” Andanar said, adding, “I would discourage her from performing in places like casinos.”
Andanar later told reporters that Uson had independently chosen to no longer enter casinos due to the ensuing outrage: “I think Mocha has also decided to stop performing [in] casinos.”
Uson spent most of her career as a professional dancer and “sex guru,” according to the Philippine Inquirer, and has appeared in sex instructional videos and run a sex blog. The “Mocha Girls” videos often feature them dancing and posing in minimal clothing for photo shoots:
Due to Mocha’s past, Duterte faced significant backlash when he hired her in May, but he dismissed the protests as conservative resentment for a sexually liberated woman with political opinions.
“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 responded to criticism at the time. “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.”