Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson and blogger Andrew Olivar apologized over a video making fun of the sign language used by the deaf community.
At the first part of the clip, Olivar was imitating a deaf person making sign language gestures while Uson, who was taking the video, can be heard laughing in the background.
This short clip was shared on Mocha Uson blog on September 14 to promote their new online radio show for DWIZ 882.
Uson was the first to release a statement on September 17, wherein she clarified that it was not a federalism video and that her co-host will issue an apology soon.
“On my part, I will be more active in guiding Drew. I hope this will serve all. Thank you,” Uson said.
Olivar then went live on his official Facebook account shortly after, wherein he admitted that he was “childish” and “insensitive” for making such offensive actions.
Posted by Andrew Olivar on Monday, September 17, 2018
“Hindi ako magri-reason out. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry po. Patawarin nyo po ako sa pagiging insensitive ko, sa pagiging childish ko,” he said in an 18-minute long recording.
Later that night, Uson uploaded her own apology, which was barely 30 seconds long, saying that she owns up to her mistake and appeals for public forgiveness.
Si Andrew Olivar ay humingi na ng paumanhin sa kanyang pag-sign language na pabiro. Gayunpaman, I take full responsibility sa ginawa ng aking radio show partner at kaibigan. Kaya po sa ating mga kapatid sa deaf community nawa’y tanggapin niyo ang aking sorry. Please forgive me.
Posted by MOCHA USON BLOG on Monday, September 17, 2018
“I take full responsibility sa ginawa ng aking radio show partner at kaibigan. Kaya po sa ating mga kapatid sa deaf community nawa’y tanggapin niyo ang aking sorry. Please forgive me,” she said.
Deaf groups and advocates retaliate
The University of the Philippines College of Education Student Council was among the first to demand accountability of both public figures.
One advocate, Ma. Anaditha Maico Angcay, who was also deaf, expressedhow deeply hurt she was with the actions of Uson and Olivar.
Ms. Uson and Mr. Andrew OlivarI am a Deaf employee and advocate for the rights of the Deaf community in the PH. I have seen your video how you made fun of the sign language of the Deaf people. I cannot describe how offensive is your action in your video. Do you know the struggles of the deaf people around the world? We are born to all sorts of communication barriers and discrimination all of our lives. For your information, our natural sign language is NOT A JOKE!!! It is a visual language of the Deaf people, the means of communication of the Deaf community around the world. It serves as bridge between hearing advocates and deaf people!Your video has reminded me of people who disrespected me with their offensive gestures…mocking our language by gesturing ugly, f**k, pota ina mo and other sexual innuendos. It has hurt me a lot because I cannot fight back. How would you feel if others say bad words to you? Angry? Hurt? Disrespected? That is how we feel with your video….we felt disrespected. Because your fake signing can be bastos… You work as government official, right? What gives you the right to do this to us? Are you aware that Filipino sign language is now passing into law and only waiting for the signature of our President Duterte? For all the Filipino Deaf, it’s our hope for equality and equal access when FSL pass into law. But it is really sad, because Ms Uson, you are disrespectful to me and our Filipino Deaf people by instructing and encouraging Mr. Olivar to make fun of our language… We want you to think and understand first how much we feel disrespected. From all people, we should feel respected and protected by people from our government. We deserve Deaf equality and freedom from many years of experiencing oppression with our natural sign language.#NaturalSignLanguageisNotJoke#FSLintoLaws#DeafcommunityinPhilippines#FSL#Respect#SignlanguageIsVisualLanguageofDeafcommunity#NoDiscrimation#NoCommunicationBarriersThank you.-Marya Angcay
Posted by Ma Anaditha Maico Angcay on Saturday, September 15, 2018
“Your video has reminded me of people who disrespected me with their offensive gestures…mocking our language by gesturing ugly, f**k, pota ina mo and other sexual innuendos. It has hurt me a lot because I cannot fight back,” Angcay said.
“How would you feel if others say bad words to you? Angry? Hurt? Disrespected? That is how we feel with your video…. we felt disrespected,” she added.
Senator Nancy Binay said that imitating the sign language is both disrespectful and discriminating.
“I wish to remind Asec. Mocha that as a public official, it is paramount that she refrain from mocking the people she serves,” she said.
Binay is the author of the Senate Bill that seeks to adopt the Filipino Sign Language.