MANILA - Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque stood by his earlier remark that Taiwan is part of China which earlier drew "strong dissatisfaction" from Taipei.
Roque reiterated how the Philippines follows the "One-China policy,” which considers Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic of China. Taiwan insists it is a sovereign and independent country.
"We've always had one position in this regard together with many countries of the world. I'll leave it at that," he said in a Palace press briefing.
Roque initially said that Taiwan is part of China when he stated that the government will leave it to Taipei to decide if an overseas Filipino worker there needs to be deported after allegedly making "nasty, malevolent" posts against President Rodrigo Duterte on social media.
"We leave that wholly to the decision of Taiwan and China. Taiwan is part of China," Roque told ANC on Wednesday.
Taipei had rejected the deportation request, which was made by a Philippine labor official there, saying freedom of speech is enjoyed by "both citizens and migrant workers" in Taiwan.
On Wednesday, Taiwan foreign affairs spokesperson Joanne Ou said, “My country expresses strong dissatisfaction and high regret over Philippine government officials wrongly accusing Taiwan as part of China.”
Roque, meanwhile, reiterated that Duterte is an advocate of free speech, saying, "Ang Pangulo naman talaga sa mula't mula, bilang abogado, ay kinikilala ang importansya ng malayang pananalita."
(The President, from the start, as a lawyer, recognizes the importance of free speech.)