Don’t blame me, Sara hits back at Bello

August 10, 2022

Vice President Sara Z. Duterte urged activist and former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello to stop obsessing over her and blaming her for his fall from grace and instead focus on “salvaging what little dignity and respect he still has.”

Duterte was reacting to Bello’s pronouncements blaming her for his arrest on a cyber libel charge filed by a former Davao City officer.

“Mr. Bello — supposedly a respected international educator and a human rights activist — took it so low and displayed a disgraceful version of himself, making him the perfect poster boy of someone we hope our children will not become when they grow up,” Duterte said.

She likewise said that she expected Bello to know that Filipinos have a distaste for those who commit crimes with impunity.

Around 5 p.m. on Monday, Bello was taken into custody at his home in Quezon City by an arrest warrant dated 8 August 2022 issued by Branch 10 Judge Espe Fuentes of the Davao City Regional Trial Court.

“Arrested late afternoon Monday on silly charge of cyber libel posted by the camp of Sara Duterte. These people are mistaken if they think they can silence me and suppress my exercise of free speech,” Bello wrote on his Twitter.

Bello, a former vice-presidential candidate, is facing two counts of violation of RA 10175 or the Cyber Crime Prevention Act of 2012 filed by former Davao City chief information officer Jefry Tupas.

Duterte said that she had never filed a libel case in her life because her father, former President Rodrigo Duterte, had told her not to listen to attacks hurdled against their family — a piece of advice her father gave to her when she was a child.

“Criticisms do not deserve even a backward glance because the accomplishments of Davao City under my leadership are already set in stone,” the Vice President said.

Duterte stressed that despite Bello’s offensive against her, she never shared the spotlight with him as she was focused on drilling her education platform in all the rallies she could muster.

“Instead of deflecting blame, playing the victim of an imaginary case of political persecution, and dragging me into his legal woes, I suggest that Mr. Bello be reminded of the fact that a civilized and democratic society does not respect hubris. The right to freedom of speech and expression does not protect anyone from defiling the name and reputation of others,” she continued.

Duterte underscored how Bello’s “silly” remark speaks volumes about his character. She argued that it was apparent derision and insult to the Prosecutors and the time and effort they put in to uphold the rule of law.

Fair, transparent probe

Meanwhile, opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday called for a fair and transparent investigation of Bello.

“I would like to express deep concern over the arrest of former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, a longtime comrade and friend,” Hontiveros said.

“I would like to call on the administration to ensure a fair and transparent investigation,” she added.

She made the statement a day after Bello was arrested at his Quezon City residence due to a cyber libel case rooted on Bello calling Tupas a “drug dealer” in an online press conference.

Hontiveros said that Bello’s voice being a “leading public intellectual and a steadfast campaigner for justice and human rights” is “essential to any democracy.”

“While Walden and I could sometimes disagree, he will always have a special place in my heart,” she said.

“Now more than ever, we need more people like him, whose genuine commitment to freedom and democracy is beyond question,” she added.

and Jom Garner


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