Ex-VP aspirant Walden Bello arrested for libel, cyber libel

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 8) — Former vice presidential candidate Walden Bello was arrested on Monday by members of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) over cyber libel charges.

Bello was arrested at his Quezon City residence at around 4 p.m. It had to do with the case filed by former Davao City Chief Information Officer Jefry Tupas, Bello's staff Leomar Doctolero confirmed.

Tupas filed before the Office of the City Prosecutor in Davao the complaint against Bello. She filed it for calling her a “drug dealer” in an online press conference that aired on his Facebook page in March.

Bello’s team said they “have been anticipating the arrest warrant” because of the Davao Prosecutor’s indictment.

The former VP aspirant submitted his counter-affidavit in the ₱10-million case filed against him in April, maintaining that the case against him is “baseless” and is a political move by Duterte. 

Bello insists that his arrest is ”pure political persecution” and that the “law is weaponized against dissent.”

The ex-VP candidate, during his arrest, persisted that his case is connected to Vice President Sara Duterte and his previous challenges amid the 2022 national election campaign.

RELATED: Bello urges Comelec to penalize Marcos-Duterte tandem for snubbing debates

“I think that this arose from the fact that I was challenging her to appear in the national debate,” Bello said. “Instead of appearing in the debate in order to answer many questions about her performance in the office, the staff of Sara Duterte instead filed a cyber libel against me.”

Tupas served as Davao City's Chief Information Officer under then Mayor Duterte.

Duterte previously sacked Tupas after being tagged in a drug operation in November 2021. 

Bello’s running mate and former presidential candidate Leody de Guzman, meanwhile, called on the Department of Justice to declare the arrest null. He also asked authorities to decriminalize libel.

Lawyer Luke Espiritu, a senatorial candidate under the slate of De Guzman and Bello, also condemned the arrest and emphasized that the case was “politically motivated.”

Dapat nating kondenahin ang pagsampa niya ng kasong libelo kay Kasamang Walden. Halatang ‘politically motivated’ ito ng kampo ni Sara Duterte,” Espiritu said.

[Translation: We should condemn her act of filing this libel case against Walden. It is obviously politically motivated on the side of Sara Duterte.]

Bello was brought to the Quezon City Police Station 8 in P. Tuazon before he was transferred to Camp Caringal where he will be staying for the night, as his bail was not able to reach the cut-off time.