Bello: Cyberlibel suit is Inday Sara's 'smokescreen' for being absent in debates | Inquirer News

Bello: Cyberlibel suit is Inday Sara’s ‘smokescreen’ for being absent in debates

/ 07:28 PM March 08, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — Vice presidential candidate Walden Bello said Tuesday that the cyberlibel complaint filed against him by a former aide of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is his rival’s way of deviating public attention from her “cowardice” to join debates.

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“Basically what this Tupas thing is—which is if you look at it, it’s very silly on the face of it—is to draw attention away from ‘yung (the) cowardice ni (of) Sara Duterte not to appear in the debates because she has nothing to show or she has to answer for a questionable record,” Bello said in a press briefing.

“So, parang (it’s like a) smokescreen, or you bring up an issue that then deflects from the mayor’s lack of courage to show up in a debate,” he added.

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Bello was referring to former Davao City public information officer Jefry Tupas, who filed Monday before the Davao City Prosecutor’s Office a cyberlibel complaint against him for his “utterly false” statements that he was “nabbed at a beach party” where he and his friends “were snorting P1.5 million worth of drugs” in November 2021.

To recall, Duterte-Carpio said last year that Tupas resigned and was fired on the same day after he attended a birthday party where authorities seized about P1.5 million worth of illegal drugs and arrested 17 people during a raid.

READ: Davao mayor fires media office chief who was at party raided for drugs

Tupas, at that time, admitted that he was at the beach party because he was invited to the event, but said that he left after dinner.

In a statement on Monday, Bello said the cyberlibel complaint is “clearly a politically-motivated move.”

“Was Tupas instructed by Sara Duterte to take away attention from her refusal to participate in the Vice Presidential debate? This strategy has one goal in mind: harassment. It aims to inconvenience us in legal bureaucracy while failing to address the concerns we’ve raised about the mayor’s tainted record in Davao,” said Bello.

Bello also stated in his press briefing that he was just “using the facts that had come out in the media,” and that it is “puzzling” that there was no similar complaint filed against the media for reporting the incident in November.

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“So again, we’re not going to be deterred by this. Come on, don’t use this crazy cyberlibel thing on us. Instead of using legal means against us, why don’t you just show up at the debate?” Bello told Duterte-Carpio.

“Huwag nang pasikot-sikot at ginagamit mo pa si Tupas na pinakawalan mo from the hands of the law and please stop this silly game that you are playing and just show up and explain at the debates,” he added.

(Stop beating around the bush to the point that you are using Tupas whom you freed from the hands of the law, and please stop this silly game that you are playing and just show up and explain at the debates.)

INQUIRER.net has sought the comment of Duterte-Carpio regarding Bello’s remarks but has yet to receive a response as of posting time.

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TAGS: #VotePH2022, 2022 elections, election 2022, Jefry Tupas, Politics, Sara Duterte, Walden Bello
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