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MANILA, Philippines – The camp of former vice presidential candidate and Laban ng Masa (LNM) chairperson Walden Bello asked the court to suspend proceedings of the cyber libel case filed against him by a close aide of Vice President Sara Duterte.
On Monday, August 15, Bello’s lawyers filed a motion to suspend proceedings before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) 10 in Davao City, including the arraignment of the case.
In the motion, Bello’s camp said they sought to defer the arraignment and other proceedings while their petition was still pending before the Department of Justice (DOJ): “Consequently, the accused respectfully asks for deferral of the arraignment and further proceedings, while the petition is being reviewed by the Honorable Secretary.”
The arraignment is scheduled for September 8.
Lawyer and former senatorial bet Luke Espiritu, who ran with Bello in the May 2022 elections, will serve as Bello’s counsel. Co-counsel is lawyer Danilo Balucos, who is based in Mindanao.
Prior to Bello’s arrest in the first week of August, his lawyers filed a petition before the DOJ to review his libel and cyber libel cases.
In their petition, they raised at least four points why his case must be reconsidered. This included the authorship of the statement in question, whether these were defamatory, the fact that complainant was a public official, and the complaint was “political persecution.”
The LNM chairperson was indicted in July. They immediately filed for a motion for reconsideration before the Davao prosecutor’s office, but it was denied.
After his arrest, Bello tweeted about the complaint against him and dragged Vice President Duterte’s name into it. Tupas worked under Duterte when she was Davao City mayor.
In a statement, the Vice President said Bello should stop blaming her for his woes, adding that the LNM chairperson “should focus on salvaging what remains of his dignity and self-respect.”
During the campaign period, Bello launched various criticisms against his rival Duterte. In one of the first public debates among candidates, Bello called Duterte a “coward” for not showing up.
Bello, at one point, even sang a Frank Sinatra song to hit the then-vice presidential candidate and her standard bearer, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. In March, the LNM chairperson was declared persona non grata by the Davao City council after Bello allegedly claimed that the city was a trading hub of illegal drugs. – Rappler.com