Philippines says fate of caregiver up to Taiwan and China

Manila says deportation of Filipina caregiver up to Taiwan, 'which forms part of China'

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Silawan (left), Duterte (right). (Facebook photos)

Silawan (left), Duterte (right). (Facebook photos)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In a bizarre mixup of geography and jurisdictions, the Philippine government on Wednesday (April 29) said that the deportation of a Filipina caregiver who made controversial comments about President Rodrigo Duterte is up to Taipei and Beijing to decide.

On Saturday (April 25), Labor Attaché Fidel Macauyag announced that a Filipina working as a caregiver in Taiwan's Yunlin County would be deported for "the crime of cyber libel for [her] willful posting of nasty and malevolent materials against President Duterte on Facebook," reported Rappler. Macauyag said that the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) had coordinated with the woman's broker and employer to arrange for her deportation for violating Act No. 10175, commonly referred to as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

On Monday (April 27), Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) rebuffed the request by saying that "Taiwan is a sovereign, independent country where foreign workers enjoy 'citizen treatment,' and their rights and interests are protected by relevant laws and regulations, including freedom of speech." Angelito T. Banayo, chairman and resident representative of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) on Tuesday (April 28) said that he had not received any instructions from the Philippine government to have the woman deported and that the labor attaché had unilaterally taken action.

When questioned about Banayo's statement on Wednesday (April 28), Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque told ABS-CBN News that the Philippine government would "leave the Filipino caregiver to the jurisdiction of Taiwanese authorities because deportation is really a decision to be made by Taiwanese authorities, which forms part of China." When asked to comment on MOFA's statement that freedom of speech "should be respected by governments of all countries," Roque responded by saying "We leave that wholly to the decision of Taiwan and China. Taiwan is part of China."

In fact, Taiwan is not a part of China but is instead a sovereign nation of 23 million with its own military, currency, flag, passport, constitution, and democratically elected legislature and president. Roque's inclusion of China in his statement appears to be the Duterte administration kowtowing to Beijing's "one China policy," but it does by no means reflect any actual jurisdiction China has over the caregiver's fate.