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Palace denies hand in deportation of OFW over anti-Duterte post

Malacanang on Sunday denied any involvement on the planned deportation of an overseas Filipino worker in Taiwan for supposedly posting "nasty and malevolent materials" against President Rodrigo Duterte.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Malacanang took no part in such plans, just as the administration was not involving itself in remarks made by millions of OFWs.

"Walang katunayan na tayo mismo ang humingi ng deportasyon na 'yan, kasi hindi naman natin pinakekealaman 'yung milyon-milyong OFWs at kanilang sinasabi dahil dito sa ating bayan ay mayroon naman tayong karapatan ng malayang pananalita," he said in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB.

However, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said last week that it was considering having the OFW sent back home for posting remarks against Duterte.

"We are constrained to act for the deportation of a Filipina working as [a] caregiver in Taiwan for the crime of cyber libel for [the] willful posting of nasty and malevolent materials against President Duterte on Facebook," the department said.

Elanel Egot Ordidor, a Filipina caregiver employed in Yunlin County, reportedly posted items that were "intended to cause hatred" amid the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Taiwan (POLO) reportedly coordinated with Ordidor's broker and employer over the matter. However, Ordidor had been cooperative and deleted the anti-Duterte videos and promised to publicly apologize to the President and the government.

"Alam niyo, sa iba't ibang bansa, iba't iba 'yung karapatan ng mga mamamayan... Mayroong mga karapatan na pwedeng mag-derogate or pwedeng hindi ipatupad 'pag merong international emergency," said Roque.

"Hindi ko lang alam kung ganyan ang nangyari sa Taiwan kaya nga pinapaalalahanan ko ang lahat sa panahong ngayon na hindi lang national emergency kundi international emergency kung iiral ang karapatan ng malayang pananalita ay mayroong hangganan," he added.

In the same interview, Roque said the government would provide assistance to the concerned OFW.

"Aasistihin natin kung anong kinakailangan ng manggagawa na madeport ng Taiwan bagamat ang desisyon ng Taiwan ay desisyon ng Taiwan," he said.

“Hindi natin pinaghihimasukan 'yan, pero kung ano ang pwede nating ibigay sa ordinaryong OFW na na-deport ibibigay din natin diyan sa kababayan nating 'yan," added Roque.

Duterte signed the Bayanihan to heal as One Act into law last March. The law allowed him to exercise additional powers to curb the spread of the COVID-19.

However, the law also included a provision which penalizes "individuals or groups creating, perpetrating, or spreading false information regarding the COVID-19 crisis on social media and other platforms, such information having no valid of beneficial effect on the population, and are clearly geared to promote chaos, panic, anarchy, fear, or confusion; and those participating in cyber incidents that make us or take advantage of the current crisis situation to prey on the public through scams, phishing, fraudulent emails, or other similar acts."

The same law sets a penalty of two months jail time or a fine of P10,000 to P1 million or both, at the discretion of the court.

Digital rights advocates have since pushed for the repeal of the provision. — DVM, GMA News