THERE’S a graduating senior behind every Mocha Uson.
When I saw the face of my colleague emerging from the faculty room toilet, I guessed we were out of water again.
It was much worse.
Mocha Uson was not just appointed as assistant communication secretary last May 9, her salary grade level makes her capable of earning as much as a chancellor, the highest official in a constituent university within the University of the Philippines (UP) system.
How entitled is Mocha Uson to our taxes in the war against misinformation?
Nearly everybody I asked has a derisive opinion about Ms. Uson. This was long before she jumped into the rarefied company of those classed between SG 27 and SG 29, which has a base pay ranging from P87,000 to P106,000 a month.
Yet, whenever I probed about Ms. Uson, I received a stock response so vexatious, I had to search online to name this logical fallacy. Circular definitions use the term being defined in the definition.
For instance: “Who is Mocha?”
Circular definition: “She’s behind Mocha Girls.”
So I remember the answer that stood out because it was informed by several sources of information and a critical consciousness.
Graduating seniors Andrea So and Mary Louise Guerra were, like many others, upset by the blogger during the 2016 elections. However, they convinced their thesis panel to let them analyze why this former sex-advice blogger became a social media influencer engaging more citizens than the most respected news outlets.
The students reviewed the blogger’s posts and generated comments, including comments to comments. To double-check their biases, the students interviewed key informants.
Before this month ends, a research panel will decide if Drea and Louise have succeeded through their scholarship to prove what every Mocha hater has already prejudged as being virtually impossible: that the “Queen of Fake News in the Philippines” can teach us a thing or two about truth.
Some Mocha assertions have become classic, overshadowing even the notoriety of her exertions in shorts and bra. Answering back critics of extrajudicial killings, she posted a photo of a raped victim and challenged human rights activists for remaining silent. It turned out that the crime took place in Brazil.
Yet, it is through these “alternative” facts that this generation receives incomparable instruction. Assistant Communications Secretary Mocha Uson rallying for the “strengthening (of) social media through the help of true members of the DDS (Die-Hard Duterte Supporters)” will be more viral than a dry lecture about fact-checking.
Even with clothes on, Mocha will turn out to be just as revealing.
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* First published in SunStar Cebu’s May 14, 2017 issue of the Sunday editorial-page column, “Matamata”