PRESIDENTIAL Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Esther Margaux “Mocha” Uson returned the award given to her by the University of Santo Tomas Alumni Association, Inc. (USTAAI) on Wednesday, according to the president of the alumni.
“She did already this morning,” USTAAI President Henry Tenedero told The Manila Times in a message on Facebook when asked to confirm reports that Uson had given back her award, which has stirred controversy in the university, resulting in the resignations of Tenedero himself as alumni president and UST Office of Alumni Relations director Ma. Cherry Tandora on Tuesday night.
Tenedero said he was taking “full responsibility” for the controversy.
The alumni association said, however, that it was not taking back the award it had given Uson, who graduated from medical technology in 1998.
A photo posted by The Varsitarian, the campus publication, showed an unidentified assistant of Uson returning her award to the USTAAI on Wednesday. It was received by Dr. Robert Sy, USTAAI chairman, and Jack Castaneda, board adviser.
Earlier in the day, Uson posted on her Facebook page that she would be returning the award because the Thomasian community was “bullying” her.
“Ako po ay humahanga sa UST Alumni Association Inc. dahil sa kabila ng pambu-bully ng ilang Thomasians sa kanila sila ay nanindigan,” (I admire the UST Alumni Association, in the wake of the bullying of other Thomasians.) Uson said. “Hindi ko lamang ito isinapubliko dahil sobrang nao-OA na ako sa ilang Thomasians sa pagpapalaki ng issue na ito. Marami pa pong mas mahahalagang bagay ang dapat pinag-uusapan kesa dito,” (I am not only making this public, because the Thomasian community is making this a big deal. There are more important things to discuss apart from this.)
UST had distanced itself from the issue as students and alumni condemned the awarding of Uson. Three alumni — former Health Secretary Carmencita Noriega-Reodica, who was awarded The Outstanding Thomasian Alumni (TOTAL) by the University in 1997, New York-based novelist Bino Realuyo, who was recognized by the UST High School during its 75th anniversary, and Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, who was awarded alongside Uson on Sunday, have all offered to return their alumni awards.
Villarin returned his award on Wednesday.