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Bello indicted for two counts of libel after hitting Sara’s ex spokesperson

Walden Bello

DAVAO CITY – The City Prosecution Office has indicted losing vice-presidential candidate Walden Bello to two counts of libel based on the case filed against him by former city information officer Jefry Tupas.

In a seven-page resolution approved on June 9, Prosecutor Jose Charito Cortez wrote that “all the elements of libel are present” based on the accusation against Bello, who lost to outgoing mayor Sara Duterte.
The camp of Bello has not released any comment but they could either file a motion for reconsideration before the City Prosecution Office or seek relief before the Department of Justice.
The resolution, approved by City Prosecutor Jophee Avanceña, rejected Bello’s claim that he was not the administrator of the “Walden Bello” as he “failed to identify such person (administrator) in his counter-affidavit.”
“Taking into consideration the strict requirements of Facebook or Meta before a particular page can be verified and be given with a blue badge, it can be presumed that the respondent authored the subject online article,” the resolution added.
The resolution pointed out that the statements made in the article that was subject of the complaint “were attacks against the private character of the complainant.”
In his complaint, Tupas cited a March 1, 2022 post on the “Walden Bello” Facebook page which contained an online press conference where Bello allegedly claimed that “Tupas was nabbed at a beach party where she and her friends were snorting 1.5 million worth of drugs on November 6, 2021.”
“Now the mayor’s excuse that she did not know that she was sheltering a drug dealer does not wash, is not credible,” the post added, as quoted in the complaint.
Tupas, in his complaint, claimed that the allegations “were utterly false” as “he had never been nabbed or arrested at a beach party,” that he “never snorted a 1.5 million worth of drugs,” and that he “was not and has never been near a drug dealer.”
In defending himself, Bello claimed the post was a “call-out” to Duterte for the refusal of the latter to attend the vice presidential debates and that it did not target Tupas.
He added the name of the complainant was dragged into the post as a matter of fact based on news articles on the Nov. 6, 2021 event.
He said he should also not be accused of libel because he was not the one who posted the article and he claimed the page “cannot not be solely attributed to him” because he was not in control of it.
He claimed that what he stated was “matter-of-factly” as it was based on news articles.
He added that Tupas could not accuse him of libel because the latter was a government official, being an information officer of the city, and that the accusation was “politically-motivated purposely to silence him” as Tupas did not file complaints against the news outlets that were the basis of his claims.


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