Bello files motion to quash libel raps filed by OVP staffer
MANILA, Philippines — Former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello has filed a motion to quash the libel and cyber libel charges filed against him by Jefry Tupas, who is now the chief of the Media and Public Relations Division of the Office of the Vice President.
The 15-page motion was submitted to the Davao City Regional Trial Court Branch 10, copies of which were given to the media on Tuesday.
Bello contends that the statements published on his social media pages did not constitute an offense because it was a commentary on the official conduct of a public officer.
To be considered libel, the motion argued, statements would have to be false and made with knowledge that they were false or with reckless disregard for whether they were false or not.
Those conditions, the motion said, were “totally absent” in the case.
“[H]ence, the same must be quashed,” the motion said.
Last Aug. 8, Bello was arrested by officers of the Quezon City Police District over cyber libel and libel charges filed by Tupas, who used to work as the public information officer of Davao City under then-Mayor Sara Duterte.
Bello posted bail to P96,000— that is, P48,000 for each count of cyber libel and libel.
The charges arose from his statement that, in November 2021, Tupas was “nabbed at a beach party” where she and her friends were allegedly “snorting P1.5 million worth of drugs.”
“It is well within any citizen’s rights to form conclusions or opinions about this matter involving the Davao City PIO,” Bello’s motion to quash said.
“A government official’s involvement with drugs is a valid subject of public scrutiny, comment and opinion, however the beliefs expressed may be accurate to a tee or may contain certain errors,” it added.
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