A Chinese student who threw a cup of taho (soy pudding) at a police officer in the Philippines is facing possible deportation amid calls for harsher punishment on social media.
Zhang Jiale, 23, was holding her cup of soy pudding when she attempted to enter a Metro Rail Transit station in Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila on Saturday.
Officer William Cristobal, who was on duty at the time, asked Zhang to finish the food prior to entering because liquids are not permitted aboard trains.
Allegedly, Zhang responded by throwing the drink straight at the officer’s uniform.
Zhang, a first-year fashion student, was arrested and charged with failure to obey an officer, assault, and unjust vexation. She has been living in the Philippines for six years.
“I’m really in bad mood and I was not able to control my emotion. I really admit the mistake I made and I feel so regretful,” she told GMA News. “I’m really really sorry. And I really ask if it’s possible to have another chance for me. I really like the Philippines that’s why I stay here. I like [the] people here. I really love Filipinos.”
Zhang was briefly released before being detained again on Wednesday under a Mission Order from the Bureau of Immigration, Rappler reported.
According to a spokesperson, Zhang was arrested for violating Section 37 (a)(7) of the Immigration Act, which effectively subjects her to possible deportation.
Under the provision, an alien who violates the conditions of their stay “shall be arrested upon the warrant of the Commissioner of Immigration.”
If Zhang’s case for deportation is satisfied, immigration officials will first wait for verdicts on her assault charges before sending her back to China.
A photo of the incident went viral on Philippine social media, triggering comments that call for “appropriate” punishment — including deportation. In response, Zhang’s legal counsel argued that it was merely an “emotional” outburst.
“This was a very minor omission which just went viral,” said lawyer Sandra Respall. “It’s a case where somebody got emotional over an incident.”
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin also argued against Zhang’s deportation and slammed the incident as a “non-issue.”
“Aw c’mon. Let’s not be trivial. This can happen anywhere to anyone in any country. Aggression by taho? Defense by the same? Boy we really need arms deals to flesh out our sense of nationhood and sovereignty. This non-issue trying to be one is pathetic.”
In follow-up tweets, he pointed out that charging Zhang is acceptable, but deporting her is probably an overreaction. “Absolutely. Charge her. But deport? She’s a student who believes enough in us to study here.”
He added, “She was flinging taho, not encroaching in our national territory. She has a visa, which she will lose, but oh well… brain explosion.”