Bello’s lawyer wants libel, cyber libel cases transferred outside of Davao City
MANILA, Philippines — Former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello’s lead counsel said he would ask the Supreme Court (SC) to transfer the case after he was arrested this week on libel and cyberlibel charges filed by a former aide of Vice President Sara Duterte.
Lawyer Luke Espiritu asserted that the libel and cyber libel complaints should be tried in a “neutral court” as they “cannot expect justice to be administered in Davao.”
Jefry Tupas, a Davao City Information Officer during the time of Duterte as mayor, filed libel and cyberlibel cases against Bello before the Davao City Prosecutor’s Office.
“We cannot expect the Davao courts to be neutral – that is controlled by Duterte dynasty,” Espiritu said during a press conference in a Quezon City restaurant.
“We must first ensure that we have a neutral court, therefore, we have to ask the Supreme Court to transfer the venue of the case, because we cannot expect justice to be administered in Davao,” he added.
By virtue of a warrant issued by Davao City Regional Trial Court Branch 10 Judge Espe Fuentes, Quezon City Police District officers arrested Bello on Monday. He is now out of police custody after posting bail totaling P96,000 or P48,000 for each count of cyber libel and libel.
The cyber libel and libel cases stemmed from Bello’s “utterly false” claim that Tupas was “nabbed at a beach party” for allegedly using drugs in November 2021.
Then-Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte said that Tupas, who identifies as a woman, resigned and was fired the same day after she attended a birthday party where authorities seized about P1.5 million worth of illegal drugs and arrested 17 people during a raid.
At that time, Tupas admitted that she was at the beach party because she had been invited, but she left after dinner.
Meanwhile, INQUIRER.net reached Fuentes and Duterte-Carpio’s spokesperson Raymond Munsayac for comment but they are yet to respond as of posting.
Editor: KGA | Post edited: abc (5:29 p.m. )
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