Walden Bello lawyers to DOJ Secretary Remulla: Walk the talk
DAVAO CITY — Lawyers of former Akbayan Partylist Rep. Walden Bello are calling on Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla to “walk the talk,” by acting on their petition for review on what they referred to as “spurious” libel and cyberlibel cases filed by Vice President Sara Duterte’s aide against the former lawmaker.
Leomar Doctolero, coordinator of Bello’s legal team and Lawyer Danilo Balucos in Davao City said that as early as July 29 last year, they filed a petition asking the Secretary of Justice to dismiss the libel and cyber libel cases filed by Duterte aide Jeffry Tupas against Bello.
The case got dismissed on procedural grounds, which the legal team complied with when they filed a motion for reconsideration on Aug. 30 last year.
When their petition did not get a response, the lawyers filed an urgent motion on Jan. 16 this year to resolve the petition, which until now remains pending.
“The Justice Secretary has vowed to speed up and unclog the notoriously slow justice system of the Philippines,” said the lawyers’ statement sent to the Inquirer, citing Remulla’s two earlier circulars aimed at improving justice in the country by unclogging the courts of unnecessary cases that had piled up and clogged the system.
Duterte’s aide Jefry Tupas, Davao City information officer, during her term as mayor, filed the cyber libel case against Bello over statements that the latter made during the 2022 vice presidential campaign, in which Duterte was running against Bello.
“We have filed our petition for review on July 29 last year. It was dismissed on August 29 based on mistaken and trivial procedural grounds—a supposed deficiency which we have actually complied with. We stated as much in a motion for reconsideration we filed on August 30. Finally, we filed an urgent motion to resolve the petition on January 16 this year. But to date, the Justice Secretary has yet to act,” said the statement.
Bello’s lawyers cited two Department of Justice circulars earlier signed by Remulla that were supposed to unclog the court of unnecessary cases.
These were Circular No. 008, directing prosecutors to immediately withdraw information or criminal charge in cases where there is no “reasonable certainty of conviction,” and DOJ Circular No. 027, which underscores the power of the Secretary to review resolutions of prosecutors even when a petition for review had not been filed.
“If Secretary Remulla wishes to uphold the spirit of speedy justice upon which his resolutions and statements are found, he must act promptly on all cases,” said the statement.
The lawyers also pointed the oft-cited remarks that “justice in the Philippines works only for the privileged few—the rich, the powerful, the allies of the administration,’ citing the acquittal of Remulla’s son on drug trafficking charges and the six-year detention of Senator Leila de Lima despite testimonies by witnesses that the cases against her were made up.
The lawyers, however, vowed to exhaust all legal means to ensure that justice would be upheld in Bello’s case and the principles of free speech and democracy be protected in its resolution.
“We invite the Secretary of Justice to make a strong stand in support of those principles by acting favorably on our petition,” said the statement.
“Enough with the press releases and grandstanding! Secretary Remulla, it is time to walk the talk!”