You are on page 1of 5

Mocha Uson is powerful not because of her intelligence.

She is powerful because she renders


intelligence useless. She is powerful not because she produces facts. She is powerful because she
renders facts irrelevant.

Antonio P. Contreras on the influence of Mocha Uson

In 2016, the Philippines found itself in a political revolution as a result of the 2016
presidential election. The people had long been tired of the systematic oppression of the oligarchs
in the country, and their disillusionment with the status quo was capitalized by a populist named
Rodrigo Duterte. Then-presidential hopeful Duterte captured the hearts and the imagination of
this disillusioned public by his populist rhetoric that change is coming. His image evoked of a
revolutionary leader; one who was a complete opposite of traditional politicians, the very ones
who the public at this point were disillusioned with. A leader who, even through violence and
impunity, is willing and capable of inciting change in the system.

The 2016 presidential election can be said as less an intellectual process, but more of an
emotional one. This election was less about democracy working to select the best fit and most
capable candidate to run the country. It was more about the culmination of longstanding
disappointment and dissatisfaction from a government ever-failing to take care of its people. And
with Dutertes win, change did come. Accompanying Dutertes win was a paradigm shift in the
political atmosphere of the country. With the installation of this populist in the most powerful seat
in the country, came also a rise of new various forces within its society. One such force that had
risen was Mocha Uson.

Karl Marx once said that religion is the opium of the people. If religion is indeed the opium
of the people, it can be said that Mocha Uson is the mouthpiece of the people. And these people,
as she claims to represent, are the ordinary Filipino people who have had their voices long
unheard. From being a risqu sexy dancer, Mocha Uson now stands as an influential political
advocate for the current administration. Mocha, through her blog, directly influences around four
million followers (Esquire, 2016).

Mochas blog crusades for the current administration, glorifying Duterte as a supreme
catalyst for change who can do no wrong. Mocha vehemently combats any of Dutertes critics by
labeling them derogatory terms (e.g. dilawan, yellowtard)with the former adopting the latters if
you are not with us, you are against us brand of divisive philosophy. She also consistently
accuses traditional news and information sources of being politically biased and skewering the
truth, going as far as calling the mainstream media presstitutes. Mocha has built her reputation
by claiming to be a representative of the voices of the ordinary Filipino, insisting in her profile
that she is not a journalist (Uson, 2017).

At face value, it can be observed that Mocha uses the same populist rhetoric as Duterte
by appealing to the sentiments of the common people and using that as a device to garner mass
support. But whereas Duterte uses fear-mongering (i.e. his highlighting of the countrys drug
problem), Mocha uses hate-mongering. She garners supporters for her agenda by creating a false
dichotomy of us (Duterte supporters) vs them (Duterte critics, dilawan). By highlighting the
differences between supporters and critics, she is able to wield a political machine that is fueled
by hate of those whose sentiments differ from theirs.

But while successful, the core of Mochas rhetoric is problematic. Much like the forces that
drove Dutertes presidential victory, her influence relies on harnessing the emotional turbulence
of the masses. Her power is not derived not from reason but emotion. The basis of her political
influence comes from the fact that she was able to capture the attention of a disenfranchised
people in a vulnerable time.

Her credibility comes not from the fact that she is intelligent, highly educated, well-
researched, or logicalthings she is actually the opposite of as most of her detractors would
argue. Strangely, her credibility comes not from facts at all. The Mocha Uson Blog is riddled with
various logical fallacies and unsubstantiated claims backed by unreputable news sources. These
flaws are both glaring and out in the open, and opposing netizens are likewise relentless in their
various but sporadic attempts to discredit or disparage Mocha and her credibility. Yet despite this,
she enjoys continued support from her huge number of followers. Because even when met by
critics with a long list of fallacies she commits on a daily basis or elaborate paragraphs of how
she is outright incorrect, Mocha levels the playing field by simply changing the game to one where
logic and facts do not matter.

Through the lens of Aristotles modes of persuasion, this paper therefore aims to examine
how, in the face of both sound logic and harsh criticism, Mocha Uson is able to thrive as a political
advocate and persuade literally millions of Filipinos to rally behind her cause.

There are three modes of persuasion as per Aristotle: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. [explain]

As aforementioned, Mocha Uson (and her proclaimed model patriarch Duterte) both derive
their success with public persuasion through capturing the emotions of their followers and
focusing these emotions to propel a specific propaganda. The most common element in all of
Mochas rhetoric is how she inspires anger from her audience and directs it to what she deems is
the enemy to either a) the Duterte administration or b) the ordinary people (I.e. their group).
Inciting anger and evoking indignation from a group of people is one of the most common
manifestations of the Pathos mode of persuasion. Much like the Sith Lord Emperor Palpatine from
the Star Wars series, Mocha is at her most effective when the hate flows through her potential
followers. Being that Mocha does not have a strong source of Ethos (credibility) and Logos (logic),
Pathos is inarguably the primary mode of persuasion she runs on.

As can be seen in her blog, Mocha has various ways of getting people riled up; one primary
example being her support of the current administrations war on drugs. Much like Duterte, Mocha
first connects with the audience by appealing to the peoples common valuesa very common
persuasion tactic. She would simply explain how we all want crime to be eradicated and for there
to be peace on our land. She then connects the idea of a crimeless, peaceful Philippines to
Duterte, whose ruthlessness against crime is rivaled only by the irony of his resorting to murder
and impunity to achieve this promised utopia. Once she has convinced people to buy the idea of
Duterte being a catalyst for a utopian society, she can now conveniently justify any of Dutertes
reproachable actions as a means to their idealistic goal and lump any criticism (valid or otherwise)
against Duterte as motives against their desire.

Through this rhetoric, she is ultimately able to accomplish two things. First, she is able to
appeal to the emotion of hope from people who desire change. Second, she is able to equate the
idea that to go against Duterte is to go against the idea of hope; thus inspiring righteous anger
out of people. By orchestrating peoples hopes and anger, she therefore becomes successful in
getting people to rally behind her cause despite problematic fallaciesand quite easy for her to
do so, since reason has historically always been at the mercy of passion.

And while not her strongest suit, Mocha Uson is also able to effectively use the Ethos
mode of persuasion when engaging her followers albeit in an unusual manner. Traditionally, a
person who wishes to persuade an audience builds Ethos with the latter by establishing that he
or she is authoritative, credible, or trustworthy enough to talk about a certain issue. Meaning to
say, Ethos is established when the audience is able to trust the persuader as a veritable proponent
of a given subject matter. Mocha, being objectively unqualified for a high-level discourse on
politics and administration, circumvents her lack of competence by identifying with her target
audience instead. Her greatest attempt at credibility is exactly the fact that she lacks it. She builds
Ethos with the public by appealing to the lowest common denominatoressentially saying that
you should trust me because, just like you, I incidentally happen to be a citizen of this country
and thats all that really matters. Mocha Usons ingenious brand of Ethos stems from the idea
that while she may not be a journalist, a political scientist, or in any profession that has anything
to do with sound political commentary, her pedestrian opinions should still matter to the public
because she is the public.

Logos, the third mode of persuasion, relies on making use of sound logic in arguments
and backing these with good reason and proper evidence. With a thorough inspection of the
Mocha Uson Blog, it becomes inarguable that Logos is Mochas weakest mode of persuasion.
This is clearly exemplified by the various logical fallacies one is sure to encounter by reading her
posts. To further illustrate, the following are some actual quotes (in full context) taken directly from
the Mocha Uson Blog together with the fallacies committed:

1. Red Herring (Misdirection)

I AM FAKE NEWS? This is the first time I will be addressing the issue of FAKE NEWS. Sa mga TROLL
na DILAW makinig kayo- you always accuse me of spreading fake news kahit naka-indicate na ang
sources, pero kayo ano? Naniniwala kayo sa bintang ni Trillanes na may pera si Duterte sa Bangko?

Mocha Uson attempting to refute accusations of spreading fake news by directing the issue
away from her

2. Illogical Conclusion

Ngayon niyo sasabihin na hindi solusyon ang death penalty, na ang dapat gawin ay ayusin ang justice
system; kung hindi rin naman kayo mga bugok eh, sa tinagal tagal niyo na nasa kapangyarihan hindi
niyo man lang ginawang ayusin, hinantay niyo pa na ang taumbayan ay sumigaw na na maibalik ang
death penalty.

Mocha Uson defending death penalty, whilst not really arguing about the actual issue of
death penalty

3. Avoiding the Issue Fallacy

We may have a problematic justice system, but is it the system's fault or is it the fault of the politicians
who have done nothing to fix it?

Mocha Uson passing the buck regarding the danger of implementing death penalty in a
dysfunctional judicial system
4. Non Sequitur

Yung mga nagpapanggap po diyan na nagsasabing dapat ituring ang addiction na health problem, may
tanong po sa inyo. Noong nasa kapangyarihan kayo, nasaan ang rehab center para pagtuunan ng
pansin yung health problem na sinasabi niyo ngayon?

Mocha Uson on the issue of addiction as a health issue, whilst arguing for an entirely
different issue

5. Ad Hominem

Iba talaga ang demonyo, lahat ng gusto mo ay kaya niyang ibigay kapalit nga lang ay iyong kaluluwa.

Mocha Usons caption to a side-by-side picture of Sen. Trillanes and Retired SPO3
Lascanas in an attempt to discredit their character

These are just some of the logical fallacies that the Mocha Uson Blog is rife with. While
clearly lacking in logic, it no longer matters as Mocha has already persuaded her followers through
the two other modes of persuasion. Since she had already inspired the emotions and captured
the sensibilities of her audience, all that is left for her to do is leave a link to
Trendingnewsportal.net.ph, caption it with a leading question, and support from her enraged
audience is sure to follow.