AKBAYAN Rep. Tom Villarin chose to return the government service award given to him by the UST Alumni Association, Inc. (UAAI) on Sunday, in protest of its decision to give the same award to Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Esther Margaux “Mocha” Uson.
Villarin and Uson, along with Senator Joel Villanueva and Health Secretary Francisco Duque, were among 19 government officials who were given the Thomasian Award in Government Service, during an alumni homecoming on Sunday. Uson was included in a last-minute decision by the association.
In a statement on Monday night, Villarin said that it was “shameful and unpleasant” to accept an award when one’s actions go against UST’s values of “truth and charity”.
“I am returning the Thomasian in Government Service Award given to me last January 21 by the UST Alumni Association because I refuse to buy into its recent justification for awarding Mocha Uson that one only needed to be a graduate of our Alma Mater, and be part of government,” Villarin said in his statement. “If that were true, then all Thomasian civil servants should have also been given such an award.“
“Uson is a purveyor of fake news, an unrepentant violator of ethical standards in journalism, and a free-flowing fountain of foul language and obscenity. Indeed, she has corrupted the values that Thomasians hold dear,” Villarin said.
Villarin joined former Health Secretary Carmencita Noriega-Reodica, who was awarded The Outstanding Thomasian Alumni (TOTAL) by the University in 1997, and New York-based novelist Bino Realuyo, who was recognized by the UST High School during its 75th anniversary in condemning the award to Uson.
The Akbayan representative initially accepted the award in good faith and was “humbled” by the gesture.
“But awards should distinguish role models from the rest based on merit,” Villarin said. “Awards should stand for something but if they can’t mean anything, then they are nothing.” ARIC JOHN SY CUA