Bello hopes De Lima release to call attention to other cases

Bello hopes De Lima release to call attention to other cases

/ 01:43 PM November 17, 2023

Bello hopes De Lima release to call attention to other cases

Walden Bello

DAVAO CITY — Social activist and sociology Prof. Walden Bello is hoping that Senator Leila De Lima’s recent release on bail would also call attention to other cases of political persecution in the country, including his own.

Bello, who was in this city on Thursday for the pretrial of the libel and cyber libel cases filed against him by Vice President Sara Duterte’s former information officer Jefry Tupas, said he was happy over De Lima’s release even as he referred to De Lima’s case as the “grand frame up” case ever in Philippine history.


He also urged the camp of Vice President Duterte to “focus on serving the people, fulfill the duties as vice president and just quit harassing people like me,” he said.


“I think that the release on bail of Senator De Lima is a major step forward in rectifying an injustice,” Bello told reporters before his pretrial proceedings at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10 in this city.

“I hope that (it) will create the same sort of citizen’s concern to also bring to light what is really behind the charge of cyber libel against me, which is, of course, much smaller than what Senator De Lima suffered but nevertheless also a great miscarriage of justice,” said Bello, who actively campaigned for De Lima’s release.

READ: ‘Pure political harassment and persecution,’ says Bello of his arrest

“I hope that the release of Senator De Lima and the rectification of this great injustice will also have an impact in terms of other political cases including our own,” he added.

Tupas, who now works for the Office of the Vice President, had filed the cases against Bello after the latter raised Tupas’ alleged involvement in a drug raid in Davao de Oro.

Bello, who raised the issue at the height of the 2022 presidential and vice presidential campaign and posted it on the Facebook page bearing his name, cited media reports on the raid.

READ: Walden Bello: Cyber libel case is not about me, it’s about press …

Bello said De Lima’s release had, to some extent, restored his faith in the judicial system. He added, however, that De Lima’s exoneration from the cases leveled against her still had to take place, but if that happened, Bello said he hoped it would usher in a new era in Philippine judicial history, in which “no grand conspiracy” of such scale should happen again.


“We hope that in the same manner that Senator De Lima has been released on bail, we hope that the court here in Davao will likewise rule similarly in favor of Ka Walden,” said Lawyer Estrella C. Elamparo, one of Bello’s legal defense team members.

“Although Ka Walden was not detained, what is pending right now is a criminal case. Definitely, we believe that this criminal case has no leg to stand on,” she said. “We hope that the court here will similarly look at this case in the same lens as the judge handling the case of Sen Leila De Lima solved her case. This is nothing but a political persecution, filed at the height of the presidential and vice presidential elections by a trusted staff of the vice president.”

READ: Davao City prosecutor indicts Walden Bello for cyberlibel

She added that the efforts to defend Bello were part of the bigger fight to decriminalize libel and protect the constitutional right of all citizens to freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

“We believe that (our existing libel and cyber libel laws) have no place in a society that believes in freedom of speech and of the press, and oftentimes, in the Philippines it is only being used as a tool for political persecution and to punish opponents of the powers that be,” Elamparo said.

She said Bello’s legal team was also exploring other options, including using the case to question the constitutionality of the country’s libel and cyber libel laws before the Supreme Court.

“We believe that while no right is unlimited, exercising free speech in violation of another person’s right does not rise (that violation) to the level of a criminal case. Instead, it may entitle one to damages in a civil case,” Elamparo said.

“This is just part of a bigger fight for us,” she added.“We hope Ka Walden will eventually receive his justice and will be vindicated and exonerated (because) there’s really no evidence that will satisfy the elements of libel here.”

Lawyer Danilo Balucos, another lawyer defending Bello, said that
In December last year, when Amnesty International awarded Bello the most distinguished human rights defender award in the individual category, various sectors had issued four calls to defend Walden, free Leila De Lima, decriminalize libel and repeal the Anti-Terrorism Act.

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“As you can see these four advocacies are focused on the protection of freedom of expression and freedom of the press provision in our Constitution. We are carrying these advocacies together with the necessary defense in the case of Dr. Bello,” Balucos said.

TAGS: Jefry Tupas, Leile de Lima, Sara Duterte, Walden Bello

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