Former VP candidate Walden Bello arrested over libel, cyber libel raps

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 08 2022 07:19 PM | Updated as of Aug 10 2022 02:39 PM

Activist and former vice presidential candidate Walden Bello is taken into custody at the Philippine National Police Camp Karingal on August 8, 2022. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News
Activist and former vice presidential candidate Walden Bello is taken into custody at the Philippine National Police Camp Karingal on August 8, 2022. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATED) — Former vice presidential candidate Walden Bello was arrested in his house in Quezon City on Monday, according to his staff Leomar Doctolero.

The arrest, which happened at around 4 p.m., is in connection with the libel and cyber libel cases filed against him by former Davao City information officer Jefry Tupas.

Tupas filed the cyber libel case against Bello in March this year after the then-VP aspirant in Facebook posts and a Zoom meeting accused Tupas of being a drug dealer and involved in a drug raid.

Tupas denied both allegations.

Based on a copy of the arrest warrant shared by his staff, Bello is facing two charges — for libel and cyber libel.

Bail was set at P48,000 per case.

The arrest warrant was issued Monday by Davao City Regional Trial Court Branch 10 Judge Retrina Espe-Fuentes, and immediately implemented in Quezon City.

Doctolero told ABS-CBN News they were informed about the possibility of the arrest because of the indictment.

“The resolution for his indictment was released last June 9. We filed for a Motion for Reconsideration with the Prosecutors' Office which was subsequently denied,” he said.

“We have been anticipating the arrest warrant because of the indictment of the Davao prosecutor. It's a bailable offense and counsel is on the way to assist him,” he added.

Bello was initially taken to the Quezon City Police District Station 8 but was transferred to Camp Karingal, the headquarters of QCPD.

The controversy between Bello and Tupas stemmed from a November 2021 drug raid in Davao de Oro.

There were claims by some of those arrested that Tupas was allowed to leave during drug raid.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) was mum on whether Tupas was allowed to leave during the raid.

Tupas was subsequently fired as Information officer of the Davao City government. At that time, the city mayor was Sara Duterte, daughter of then President Rodrigo Duterte who is now the country's vice president.

Tupas confirmed being present during the party but left early. In the complaint against Bello, Tupas claimed she was never arrested for drugs.

Bello, meanwhile, was declared persona non grata by the Davao City Council.

He asked the Davao City Prosecutor's Office to junk the cyber libel case against him, but it decided to file the case in court instead.

Ex-presidential candidate Ka Leody de Guzman visited his 2022 elections running mate at the QCPD.

Both campaigned in Davao City despite the libel and cyber libel complaints Bello was facing, and the latter even entered the Davao City Council’s office despite the persona non grata declaration.

During the campaign period, Bello challenged Duterte to attend the debates and explain her former aide's alleged involvement in the said drug raid.

Laban ng Masa condemned the arrest of its chairperson, calling it a case of "state-sponsored persecution and repression of the right to free expression".

"That a highly-respected and world-renowned scholar-intellectual and activist like Dr. Bello has been victimized by this highhanded police operation speaks volumes on the state of democracy and freedom in the Philippines. It also serves as a warning to democracy and human rights advocates on what would befall them while standing up for the right to express one’s views and criticize wrongdoings by the rich and powerful," it said in a statement.

"We call on all freedom-loving and democratic people in the country and internationally to denounce Dr. Bello’s unjust arrest and to demand that all charges against him be dropped," it added.

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