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FIRING LINE: Taiwan’s freedom of speech lecture

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

It’s a shame that the Philippines celebrated as Asia’s “First Democracy”, received a lecture about freedom of speech from a tiny island-state like Taiwan.

The issue: Labor Attaché Fidel Macauyag of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Taichung pressed for the deportation of Filipino caregiver Elanel Ordidor for expressing her disappointment at the Duterte administration’s response to the pandemic.

POLO even threatened the OFW of three years with a cyber libel case if she did not post a video on social media apologizing to President Duterte for her “nasty and malevolent” statements that “maligned and discredited” the Chief Executive, and “destabilized” his administration.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected Ordidor’s deportation, saying that workers enjoyed “citizen treatment”. It meant that even overseas workers’ rights and interests were “protected by relevant laws and regulations, including freedom of speech, which should be respected by governments of all countries”.

It added that “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.”

Really, it’s sad to see a foreign government protecting the rights of a Filipino worker, which should have been the role of our own democratic government.

Macauyag is no different from the bootlicking Manuelito Luna, the commissioner of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, whom the President sacked for pushing an investigation against Vice President Leni Robredo’s relief efforts during the coronavirus outbreak.

The attache took it upon himself to press for Ordidor’s deportation even though, according to Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) Chairperson Lito Banayo, there was no request for such from the government.

Both Macauyag and Luna were overzealous in sucking it up to Duterte.

The President should let Macauyag keep Luna company.

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And here comes returning Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque making matters worse when he mentioned Taiwan is part of China in a statement relating to Ordidor’s case.

“We leave that wholly to the decision of Taiwan and China. Taiwan is part of China,” Roque said.

“My country expresses strong dissatisfaction and high regret over Philippine government officials wrongly accusing Taiwan as part of China,” Taiwan foreign ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou stated as the ministry instructed the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines to protest the matter with Manila.

While it is true that the Philippines, like other countries, follows the “One-China policy”, which considers the Republic of China-controlled Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic of China, the loquacious Roque should have been smart enough to remain silent on this aspect.

Would it have hurt if he said: “We leave that wholly to the decision of Taiwan,” period?


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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

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