MANILA – Filipinos who are critical of President Rodrigo Duterte, including the Filipino caregiver in Taiwan who criticized the government’s response to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), can enjoy their freedom of speech, Malacañang said on Thursday.
“Ang Pangulo naman talaga, sa mula’t mula, bilang isang abogado, kinikilala ang importansiya ng malayang pananalita (The President, as a lawyer, is recognizing free speech from the very beginning),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4.
Philippine labor attaché Fide Macauyag on April 25 sought the deportation of Elanel Egot Ordidor, a Filipino caregiver in Taiwan, for posting “nasty and malevolent” criticisms against Duterte on social media.
Taipei’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, rejected the deportation request, saying freedom of speech is enjoyed by “both citizens and migrant workers” in Taiwan.
Roque said the Palace would leave Ordidor’s fate to Taiwanese authorities.
“Sinabi naman po ng Taiwanese authorities na hayaan na po natin at sinabi naman po ng Taiwanese authorities na sila na ang bahalang mag-desisyon niyan (Taiwanese authorities said let them be in charge of it and make a decision [with regard to Ordidor’s fate]),” he said.
Taiwanese authorities on Tuesday refused to deport Ordidor because she did not violate the host country’s laws and regulations.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) earlier accused Ordidor of sowing hatred amid the global health crisis by “willful posting of nasty and malevolent materials against President Duterte on Facebook.”
DOLE said Ordidor’s actions could be prosecuted for violating Republic Act (RA) 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
RA 10175 punishes libel committed through computers and the Internet.
Ordidor may be jailed up to six months or fined of up to PHP250,000, if found guilty of committing cyber libel.
Malacañang earlier denied that the government is seeking the deportation of Ordidor for alleged cyber libel.
Roque also said on Tuesday that the Palace respects Taiwan’s decision not to deport Ordidor. (PNA)
By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos