Philippine government spokesmen were scrambling to repair potential damage to President Rodrigo Duterte
's campaign to introduce a federal system after a song and dance number that was supposed to draw support for the controversial initiative was roundly condemned, including by the church, for being lewd and offensive. Duterte's allies joined a chorus of condemnation following a viral social media post by Assistant Communications Secretary Mocha Uson
that showed a co-host performing a jingle endorsing federalism. Uson was a dancer, model and part of a sexy girl band before entering politics. However, the jingle and dance routine performed by a co-host has come under fire for being sexually explicit, and reminded many of Uson's past career. The co-host was said to have danced in a provocative way by suggestively touching his crotch while singing lyrics using Filipino slang words like pepe
that refers to female genitalia and dede
that means breasts. Uson's post came as the government is struggling to explain the benefits of federalism
. Catholic priest Ranhillo Aquino, a member of the consultative body that drafted the proposed charter, slammed Uson's "inappropriate" messaging and the use of "toilet humor" to explain "something so fundamental to the life of the nation." Uson's boss, presidential communications secretary Martin Andanar, said that she is not the spokesperson of the federalism campaign. "We were not consulted on her role," Andanar said. Netizens called the video an "obscenity" with some women's groups saying Uson was falling back on misogyny to promote a measure rejected by three of four Filipinos in recent surveys. Uson clarified that the ditty, and a latter portion that haltingly went through federal principles, were separate events spliced together by government critics. The Philippine government has earlier announced a US$1.7 million fund for the communications campaign to inform the public of the charter change initiative. The bulk of the funds will underwrite a national roadshow to drum up support for the moves. The controversy comes as the Philippine Congress starts hearing the government's national budget for 2019. Duterte's move to change from a unitary form of government to a federal one faces opposition from various sectors.