PH exec in Taiwan tells Roque: Be mindful of remarks over Taiwan and China
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ official representative in Taiwan has slammed Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s statements on the “deportation” of a female overseas Filipino worker (OFW), asking what was his purpose in bringing up China-Taiwan issues.
Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) chairperson Angelito Banayo urged Roque to be more careful in making statements, after the latter claimed that the fate of OFW Elanel Ordidor lies on Taiwan and China.
Taiwan, or the Republic of China, has a peculiar relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). PRC claims ownership of the island, but Taiwan insists that they are a sovereign state.
“It’s good that he accepted the fact that deportation is the prerogative of the host country […] But what official purpose does it serve to needlessly remark that Taiwan is part of China, and wading in the internal affairs of two countries?” Banayo said during an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
“Is the purpose to injure the sensitivity of a nation that treats almost a 160,000 Filipino workers with fairness and equity? What then is the purpose of sending animosity with that political non sequitur [statement that does not follow logically]?” he asked.
Previously, Ordidor was ordered deported by Taichung Labor Attaché Fidel Macauyag for criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After Taiwan insisted that it has control over who shall be deported, noting that they respect the OFW’s free speech, Roque said that they respect the decision and leave the issue to Taiwan and China — something that the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) took offense to.
MOFA spokesperson Joanne Ou said that Philippine authorities should stop misrepresenting Taiwan with China, asserting independence from the Asian superpower by saying that PRC has never ruled them even for a day.
Roque reasoned out that the Philippines, along with other countries and organizations in the world, adopt a one-China policy where Taiwan is recognized as a part of PRC.
But Banayo urged Roque, whom he said he considers as a friend, to be more mindful when he speaks as he represents the President’s views. He also implied that this issue — like China-Taiwan relations, should have not been discussed in this particular scenario.
“I hate to say this because Harry Roque is a friend of mine, but let me remind him that the spokesman must always have a purpose when he speaks, more so when he has the President of the country as his principal,” Banayo said.
“As representative of our people’s interests in Taiwan, I am constrained to call Secretary Roque’s attention to these statements […] We have a long history of friendship, and Taiwan has always been there to help the country in times of disasters and calamities. Why then must we provoke their anger and stoke their sensitivities?” he asked.
Taiwan has maintained independence from China ever since its founder, Chinese nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek relocated his government there. After Chiang Kai-shek’s government was driven out of communist forces led by Mao Zedong, Taiwan established itself as a technological and cultural hub in the region.
This is not the first incident where Philippine authorities have treated Taiwan as if it was part of China.
Last February, as the COVID-19 pandemic was picking up speed, Philippine authorities banned inbound flights from China, including Taiwan, even though it had, and still has, a generally low incidence of coronavirus infections.
China and the Philippines have enjoyed renewed ties after Duterte’s administration shifted to an independent foreign policy. However, opposition groups have slammed the government’s alleged blind eye towards China’s atrocities in the country and the disputed West Philippine Sea.
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