UST hands off on Mocha’s award
(The Philippine Star) - January 23, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Amid the controversy created by the award given to Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary and STAR columnist Esther Margaux “Mocha” Uson, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) yesterday clarified that the school is a separate entity from the alumni association. 

UST said while it “takes pride in its graduates who have distinguished themselves in their chosen fields of expertise,” the recognition came from the UST Alumni Association Inc. (UAAI) and not from the university.

It added that the university does not interfere with the affairs of the UAAI or any of its alumni organizations. 

The only award given by UST to its alumni is The Outstanding Thomasian Alumni (TOTAL) Awards.

Meanwhile, the UST Artlets Student Council urged the UAAI to revoke the award given to Uson and disapprove that she had been a source of false information. 

Uson “ has long been known for her attacks on government officials and other political actors despite her supposed objective after getting a position in the presidential office, and she has been a public figure for propagating fake news in her blog.”

The 35-year-old Uson was one of the 27 recipients of the Thomasian Alumni in Government Service award given by the UAAI in a ceremony on Sunday.

In an earlier interview, UAAI vice president John Simon said they are prepared to receive the backlash for choosing Uson.

He said that for this year they concentrated on Thomasians who are occupying high-ranking positions in the three branches of government.

“There are a lot of Thomasian alumni who have been serving the country. So we give emphasis on the Thomasians who are in government and who are at the forefront in implementing change in our country,” Simon said.

He said that presidents of the different alumni organizations in UST selected this year’s awardees and chose those who fit the qualifications of being a high-ranking government official and has accomplished something in government. The political affiliation were not considered in the selection process.

Ex-health chief, novelist to return award

Two alumni want to return the awards they received from UAAI to protest Uson’s inclusion among the awardees.

Former health secretary Dr. Carmencita Reodica, who was conferred the award in 1997, will return the plaque given to her by the UAAI.

“The (UAAI), in defense of the award given to Mocha Uson, said the only criteria is a graduate of UST and in government service. Out of personal conviction and many others more deserving , I am returning this award for it has lost its meaning and significance,” she said.

Reodica, who served at the Department of Health for 33 years, earned her medical degree at UST in 1962.

US-based novelist and poet Bino Realuyo posted on Facebook that he also wants to return the award given to him in 2003 as an alumnus of UST High School.

“I am demoralized by your recognition of Mocha Uson. As a protest of your decision to support a political propagandist who thrives in attacking the highest ideals of Philippine democracy, I am returning the award given to me. Please give me a mailing address so that I may send this award back to you,” he added. 

Realuyo is a recipient of the 2009 Philippine National Book Award. 

Another writer, Rebecca Añonuevo, accused Uson’s critics of exhibiting “intellectual arrogance and moral high horse.”

“Uson has probably contributed much more to nation-building, and helping ordinary Filipinos, than all you who decry her. She does not need the award, and she will continue to do her work in government, alas, to your frustration, with the support of the citizens who believe in her,” she said in a post.

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