MANILA – Taiwan’s foreign ministry has dismissed the call for the deportation of a Filipina caregiver over her online criticism on the Philippine government’s response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
According to a report from Taiwan News Online, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) maintained that foreign workers enjoy freedom of speech in the country.
"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, which should be respected by governments of all countries," the MOFA said.
“No person or institution, in this case, has the right to pressure her, her employer, or broker, nor shall she be deported without consultations held between both governments,” it added.
The Philippine representative to Taipei earlier said Manila has not formally requested the deportation of the Filipina caregiver.
Angelito Banayo, chairman and resident representative of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), said the order for deportation is a sovereign right of the Taiwanese government.
“The question of deportation is something that only the Taiwanese government can decide upon," he said in an interview with Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA).
Fidel Macauyag, labor attaché of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Taichung City, has alleged that the woman was using multiple social media accounts and participated in a group "organized to discredit and malign the President and destabilize the government."
He said his office had coordinated with the worker's broker and employer on her deportation on her supposed offense under Philippine law, claiming that sharing and posting of such videos are punishable under cyber libel under Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has sounded alarm over the POLO’s move. POLO is an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment that seeks the protection and welfare of OFWs.
CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia stressed that labor offices abroad exist primarily to protect migrant workers who may run into trouble as they try to provide better livelihood for their families back in the Philippines.
She also reiterated that Filipinos' "freedom of speech, of expression, or the right of the people to petition the government for redress of grievance" are guaranteed in Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution.