Presidential prerogative

8

Tita C. Valderama

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is right when he says that no law disqualifies Margaux “Mocha” Uson from becoming president of the Philippines. He also once said that boxing champ Manny Pacquiao may become president one day.

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Why not? But Uson will have to wait until 2028 before she can run for president because she is a few days short of the required minimum age requirement of 40 in May 2022. She was born on May 17, 1982. Pacquiao will be 43 years old by then. He was born on December 17, 1978.

Except for Uson’s age, the two are very much qualified under the 1986 Constitution, which previous presidents either refused or failed to have amended for various reasons.

Section 2, Article 7 of the Constitution provides: No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least 40 years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years immediately preceding such election.

The Constitution does not qualify fitness for public office, including the presidency, in terms of performance record, psychological or psychiatric state, physical appearance, moral values, and academic or intellectual level of achievement. Those are unwritten qualifications that voters are expected to consider in choosing candidates to elect.

Presidents don’t have to go through the Commission on Appointments for a meticulous process of confirmation but their appointees do.

Presidents have the power to appoint anybody they wish to, either to recognize one’s outstanding performance record or to pay a debt of gratitude. It’s called presidential prerogative.

In the case of Uson, who became popular as leader of a provocative dance group called Mocha Girls and later as a political blogger, Duterte said her appointment as assistant secretary for social media at the Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) was in recognition of her group’s help in his campaign in 2016.

“Utang na loob ko iyan sa kanila because they offered their services free at a time na wala akong pera, because they believe in me. Now it’s my time to believe in them,” Duterte said to defend Uson’s appointment which has been criticized for her lack of credentials.

“And if it just a matter of dancing, she was not dancing naked. She was—during the campaign—a little bit sexier than the others, but that does not prevent anybody to deprive her of the honors that she deserves. It’s a matter of intellect,” the President explained.

Then he went on: “Iyang pagsasayaw niya, hanapbuhay iyan, eh. [Dancing is her livelihood.] That’s hanapbuhay. There’s no law which says that if you expose half of your body, with shorts and a bra, you are disqualified from being the president of the Philippines. There’s no really no law.”

Duterte said he believes Uson is “bright and articulate.” Well, her blog has a following of at least 4 million; a number that skeptics say is mostly online trolls or fanatics who are allegedly paid to defend the administration from critics.

Uson finished a course in medical technology at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in 1998 but dropped out of her medical studies. She has academic credentials, although it is not related to her assigned role at the Palace.

What is disturbing is that Uson will be in charge of fighting fake news, something she has been accused of propagating on her blog. She has been propagating her own version of “alternative facts” which others say are falsehoods or twisted facts tailored to portray the administration positively.

By presenting her “alternative facts” that are supposed to bring the administration closer to the people, Uson is, at the same time, destroying the mainstream media for its alleged biases against the President. She considers mainstream media as biased for reporting developments and statements that are critical of the administration. Obviously, she and others in the administration want only positive reports coming out in the media.

“It’s time for us to stop relying on the wrong reports from some mainstream media, and to strengthen social media with the help of true members of the DDS (Die-hard Duterte Supporters). Because we are the media of Tatay Digong,” Uson had said in her blog, explaining the role she would be playing in government.

Previous Presidents and other public officials faced similar criticisms of using their position and power to pay personal and political debts. Uson is not the only presidential appointee whose credentials and fitness for a high-paying job has been questioned.

What is disturbing is that the number is growing. There are also questions about Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, Solicitor General Jose Calida, Presidential Chief Legal Adviser Salvador Panelo, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, among others

Their appointments to sensitive positions in government speak well of the policy that in public service, it is whom, and not what, you know that matters.

With the number of presidential appointees whose interpretations of the law and moral values are against the norm, and whose performance records are far from being outstanding, we may yet see the promised change coming. But it may not be the change we expected. If truth has many versions in this administration, change has other meanings, too, and it may not be what we know.

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8 Comments

  1. And if it just a matter of dancing, she was not dancing naked.
    ——————————————————————————

    She has posed naked. doggie style with legs spread which is typical of smut magazines. A simple google and there are numerous sites that carry full frontal and back with closeup pictures of her vagina.

    Either Duterte does not vet or investigate people he appoints or he is lying and knows exactly what he appointed which he may be to divert suspicions when she becomes his traveling companion. (wink)

    • FYI account i think its better than your clean-cut individuals who, you do not know, might have some more sinister secrets hiding in their closets.(wink)

      At least mocha has bared it all unlike those wolves hiding in suit and ties

  2. Amnata Pundit on

    Credentials for the presidency? Your favorite president Cory Aquino was allegedly a math graduate. When she took power the first thing she did was to scuttle the already fueled and ready to fire Bataan Nuclear Plant and sold it for a fraction of its cost then made all of us pay for the original loan which as of the latest has come up to a total of $22Billion. US$22B in exchange for nothing ! What kind of math did she use there? Do you think Mocha Uson or Manny Pacquiao can do worse math than that? Are the defenders of the dying yellow cause still capable of thinking straight?

    • You would rather they started it up with the 700 defects inspectors found after it was built ?

      Hope you live close to that Nuclear power plant if and when they ever decide to start using it.

    • Amnata Pundit on

      700 defects according to the yellow tribe experts? How come that sounds to me like Ninoy Aquino saying Marcos bombed Plaza Miranda?

    • Uhm, FYI account no one will be allowed to live near a nuclear power plant. WTH is with that ad hominem lol

      And kindly answer the other points she raised. We’ll wait.

  3. Mario B. Capangpangan on

    Duterte is a thinking President, a strategist, and a political genius! So, whatever he does or decides, rest assured that he has thought about it well enough! The problem with columnists and critics is they think of themselves as brighter and better in making decisions! So, you better run for President, and prove yourselves!

  4. Whats the difference between dutertes methods and everyone elses methods of choosing? is it any better if instead you choose from among your relatives, classmates, fratmates, drinking buddies, students, or the hundred or so choices among the relatives and friends of your significant other? Its far better that they are appointed because the president believes they will do their job well and not because they will further the self serving agenda of the presidents political party. In any case, DU30 is far more capable of choosing the right people for the job than PNOY ever was.

    No one has the monopoly of truth, law or moral values in this country, least of all the believers in the liberal agenda.