Taiwan has demanded the Philippines stop referring to the island as a part of China, as tensions again flare between Taipei and Manila in a sovereignty row over a Filipino domestic helper. Taipei lodged a protest with Manila on Thursday after Philippine presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Taiwan was part of China while commenting on the helper’s deportation case. Taiwan’s foreign ministry said the Republic of China in Taiwan “is a sovereign independent country, which is never a part of China. The People’s Republic of China [Beijing] has never a day ruled Taiwan.” The tensions stemmed from the handling of allegations of libel against Elanel Egot Ordidor who works as a helper in Taiwan’s southwestern county of Yunlin. On Saturday, the Philippine Department of Labour and Employment accused Ordidor of “cyber libel” for allegedly sharing videos on Facebook criticising Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his online supporters over their actions during the coronavirus epidemic in the Philippines. Fidel Macauyag, the Philippines’ labour attaché on the island, said representatives from the Philippine Overseas Labour Office in Taiwan’s central city of Taichung met Ordidor at her workplace on April 20 “to enlighten her that her actions amounted to a crime for which she might be prosecuted both in Taiwan and the Philippines”. “We are constrained to act for the deportation of a Filipina working as a caregiver in Taiwan for the crime of cyber libel for wilful posting of nasty and malevolent materials against President Duterte on Facebook, intended to cause hatred amidst the global health crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Macauyag said on Saturday. He said labour office “coordinated with her broker and employer on her deportation” due to the gravity of her offence under Philippine law. Philippines will keep capital region in coronavirus lockdown until May 15, inflicting more pain on economy But Taiwan later cried foul, with its foreign ministry saying it was not up to the office to deport the woman employed in Taiwan because the island had jurisdiction. The Labour Affairs Ministry also said the island would not deport Ordidor as long as she did not violate local laws during her time in Taiwan. On Tuesday, Roque denied that Manila was seeking Ordidor’s deportation, saying the Philippines upheld freedom of expression. The Philippines’ top envoy in Taiwan, Angelito Banayo, also said he had received no instructions from the presidential office to seek the deportation. As the controversy appeared to come to a halt, Roque told ABS-CBN News in the Philippines on Wednesday that the decision on whether the helper should be deported rested with Taiwan and China. “We leave that wholly to Taiwan and China. Taiwan is part of China,” Roque said. Taipei responded on Thursday, protesting against Roque’s comments. The foreign ministry also stressed that Taiwan was ruled by law and all migrant workers were protected by the island’s laws. The Philippines does not maintain official ties with Taiwan. It has kept diplomatic relations with Beijing, which considers Taiwan a wayward province that must be returned to its fold, by force if necessary. The row over the helper came two months after Philippine health undersecretary Eric Domingo included Taiwan in a ban on arrivals from China as part of Manila’s effort to contain the coronavirus epidemic. The Philippines later removed Taiwan from the ban after Taipei threatened to take “corresponding measures” against the Philippines if the ban stayed in place. So far, the Philippines has a total of 8,212 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 558 deaths.