File photo shows the logo of the Department of Labor and Employment
File photo
DOLE hit for policing Taiwan OFW's Facebook posts
(Philstar.com) - April 26, 2020 - 1:35pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 4:35 p.m.) — The labor department should focus on the plight of distressed and neglected Filipino workers abroad, a migrant workers' group said, instead of what it said was the harassment of an OFW in Taiwan over social media posts critical of the government.

The department, in a release on Saturday, said it is "constrained to act for the deportation of a Filipina working as caregiver in Taiwan" over her "willful posting of nasty and malevolent materials against President Duterte on Facebook."

READ: DOLE pleads with employers to pay workers displaced by quarantine

DOLE said that the Philippine Overseas Labor Office had warned OFW Elanel Ordidor "that her actions amounted to a crime for which she might be prosecuted both in Taiwan and the Philippines" and told her to delete her posts and to post a public apology.

The Cybercrime Prevention Act punishes libel committed through computers and the internet, although free speech and media groups have long been calling to decriminalize libel, saying “libel provisions of the [Revised Penal Code] have been problematic for free expression and press freedom since 1932."

DOLE also accused Ordidor of organizing a group "to discredit and malign the president and destabilize the government."

It is unclear how the caregiver could have destabilized the government from Yunlin County in Taiwan.

"Due to her acts, POLO coordinated with her broker and employer on her deportation on the basis of the gravity of Ordidor’s offense under Philippine law," the labor department also said. 

It is unclear if a complaint has been filed against Ordidor in Taiwan or in the Philippines.

READ: Cash aid to OFWs stays as DOLE retracts 'wrong announcement' after two hours

"There are thousands upon thousands of distressed, abused, stranded and neglected OFWs needing to be rescued and assisted but these overseas POLO officials opted instead to expend all their time in the world to gang up on Ordidor on the mere basis of her critical views against President Duterte," Migrante International said.

This, the group said, "while the pleas of countless other Filipino migrant workers are falling on deaf ears."

It added: "POLO failed to provide protection to many starving OFWs who have lost their jobs. Is DOLE now going to prioritize Ordidor’s deportation instead of repatriating our stranded kababayans?" 

'Deeply troubling' action

In a separate statement on Sunday, Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK), said it was "deeply troubling" that the labor department "has chosen to attack workers who merely express their opinion over issues that directly concern them rather than expand and promote policies and programs to their welfare."

John Lazaro, SPARK national spokesperson, said: "To make matters worse, DOLE's International Labor Affairs Bureau is acting in this case as the accuser, judge and executioner rolled into one."

SPARK warned that the government move could cause damage to OFWs' morale and on their confidence in the government to address their concerns.

"The reality that we face is one in which a worker families’ entire source of income can be threatened by one dissenting remark on social media, all because we have obsequious and detached agency officials," the group said. 

Also on Sunday, the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said the DOLE's action "is essentially political persecution for posting her sentiments against the failures of the Duterte regime in addressing the needs of the Filipino people during the ongoing pandemic in the country."

READ: DOLE: More OFWs seeking assistance

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION FREEDOM OF SPEECH NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
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