By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque explained that the country considers Taiwan as part of China because the Philippines has always observed the one-China policy.
Roque made the statement after Taiwan expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with his remarks that supposedly misrepresented Taiwan as a part of the People’s Republic of China.
This was an offshoot of Roque’s remarks when he talked about the call to deport the Filipino caregiver who made “nasty, malevolent” posts on social media against President Duterte.
“We’ve always had one position in this regard, together with many countries of the world, I leave it at that,” he said.
After Taiwan rejected the call of the Philippines Overseas Labor Office (POLO) to deport Elanel Ordidor because of her criticisms against President Duterte, Roque agreed that the host country has the final say on deporting foreign nationals.
“We leave the Filipino caregiver to the jurisdiction of Taiwanese authorities because deportation is really a decision to be made by Taiwanese authorities which forms part of China. We leave it that wholly to the discretion of Taiwan and China. Taiwan is part of China,” he said in an interview over ANC.
In response, Taiwan foreign affairs spokesperson Joanne Ou said Philippine authorities should “stop misrepresenting Taiwan as a part of China.”
“My country expresses strong dissatisfaction and high regret over Philippine government officials wrongly accusing Taiwan as part of China,” Ou said in a statement.
She added that they have instructed the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines to protest the matter with Manila.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has instructed our representative office in the Philippines to immediately negotiate with the Philippines to express their protests,” Ou said.
“We solemnly call on the government officials of the Philippines to face up to the facts and stop misrepresenting Taiwan as a part of China,” she added.
Freedom of speech
Despite this, Roque said President Duterte has always recognized the importance of freedom of speech.
“Ang Pangulo naman talaga, sa simula’t simula, bilang isang abogado, kinikilala ang importansya ng malayang pananalita (The President, from the very beginning, as a lawyer, he recognizes the importance of free speech),” he said.
President Duterte himself mentioned in a public address early April that he does not mind the criticisms from the public, particularly from Filipino netizens.
“I govern properly and right. If it makes you happy, then you smile. If not, you criticize me,” the President said.
As Ou reiterated that Taiwan was a free and democratic country where freedom of speech is protected, she urged the Philippines to submit a request for mutual legal assistance to Taiwan “if the Philippine judiciary determines that the migration is illegal and is wanted in accordance with appropriate legal procedures.”
“We can negotiate with the Philippine government in accordance with relevant agreements,” she said.