MANILA – Malacañang on Sunday denied that the government is seeking the deportation of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Taiwan for alleged cyber libel.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) accused an OFW of cyber libel for the “willful posting of nasty and malevolent materials against President Duterte on Facebook intended to cause hatred amidst the global health crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“Wala pong katunayan na tayo mismo ang naghingi ng deportation na yan kasi hindi naman po natin pinakikialaman yung mga milyon milyong OFWs at lahat ng kanilang sinasabi dahil dito po sa ating bayan ay meron naman tayong karapatan ng malayang pananalita (There is no truth that we are the ones who sought for her deportation because we do not interfere with the millions of OFWs and what they say because here in our country, we have freedom of expression),” Roque said in an interview over DZBB.
Roque, however, said that the government is ready to assist the OFW should she be deported by Taiwan.
He said the Palace will leave it to authorities in Taiwan to decide on the OFW’s fate.
“Aasistihin po natin kung ano ang kinakailangan nung manggagawa na inorder na ma-deport ng Taiwan. Bagamat ang decision po ng Taiwan ay desisyon ng Taiwan. Hindi po natin pinanghihimasukan ‘yan (We will assist the worker who was ordered to be deported by Taiwan but the decision of Taiwan is the decision of Taiwan. We do not interfere with that),” he said.
Roque reiterated that under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the state can derogate among others freedom of expression when there is a national emergency.
He also reminded the public that there are certain “limits” to free expression.
In a statement, the DOLE identified the OFW as Elanel Egot Ordidor, an alleged caregiver employed in Yunlin County, Taiwan.
DOLE said that the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) has already coordinated with Ordidor’s broker and employer on her deportation on the basis of the gravity of her offense under Philippine Law.
Sharing and posting of such videos, DOLE said, are punishable under cyber libel under Republic Act 10175.
On April 20, DOLE said POLO officers went to her workplace to enlighten her that her actions amounted to a crime for which she might be prosecuted both in Taiwan and the Philippines.
DOLE said Ordidor was cooperative and cordial at first and committed to delete all her uploaded videos against the President and promised not to do it again.
She also promised to upload a video of her public apology to the President and to the people in the government at 9 p.m. of the same day, DOLE said.
However, hours after the visit, DOLE said several posts were seen on the POLO Taichung’s Facebook page from several fake accounts assuring Ordidor’s cause and further giving her assurance of support.
“It has come to our knowledge that Ms. Ordidor is using several social media accounts, among which are Lenale Elanel Egot, Mha Lan Dee, Linn Silawan and Hampas Lupa and has a group organized to discredit and malign the President and destabilize the government,” DOLE said.
Controversial music video
After a music video about the Philippines and China’s partnership sparked outrage online, Roque said there is no need for the Chinese Embassy to seek approval from the government in releasing such material.
Roque said the Chinese Embassy is also entitled to free speech.
“Sa ating Saligang Batas naman lahat tayo merong karapatan ng malayang pananalita. Ang isang video po kasama yung mga awitin ay kabahagi po yan ng karapatan ng malayang pananalita (In our Constitution, we all have the right to freedom of expression. A video accompanied by a song is part of freedom of expression),” he said.
Citing the Bill of Rights in the 1987 Constitution, Roque said freedom of expression generally applies to both aliens and citizens.
“Sabi po ng ating Korte Suprema, lahat po ng ating karapatan sa ating Bill of Rights ay binibigay natin sa ating mga dayuhan na naninirahan dito sa ating bayan (Our Supreme Court says that all rights under the Bill of Rights are given to foreigners living in the country),” he said.
The song titled “Iisang Dagat (One Sea),” released by the Chinese Embassy in Manila last Friday drew flak, mostly from Filipinos who criticized the intent of its message amid China’s assertion of rights to the West Philippine Sea. (PNA)