Police have arrested former Anakbayan party-list lawmaker and defeated vice presidential candidate Walden Bello in his home in Quezon City on Monday afternoon.
Meanwhile, at least two lawmakers filed a bill seeking to criminalized dissemination of fake news.
Quezon City Police District (QCPD) chief Brig. Gen. Remus Medina said Bello was arrested on the strength of a warrant issued by a trial court for two counts of cyber libel filed by ex-Davao City information officer Jefry Tupas.
Leomar Doctolero, Laban ng Masa spokesman, said Bello expected his arrest.
Bello, 76, was placed in the custody of the QCPD Station 8 in Project 4, but will be transferred to the QCPD headquarters in Camp Karingal.
In a June 9 seven-page resolution, Quezon City Prosecutor Jose Charito Cortez noted that “all the elements of libel are present” in the charges against Bello.
The resolution, approved by City Prosecutor Jophee Avanceña, rejected Bello’s claim that he was not the administrator of the “Walden Bello” account on Facebook as he “failed to identify such person in his counter-affidavit.”
In his complaint, Tupas cited a March 1 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.”
Bello’s counsels said the Regional Trial Court 10 in Davao issued the arrest warrant against Bello on
“We have been anticipating the arrest warrant because of the indictment (by) the Davao Prosecutor. It’s a bailable offense and counsel is on the way to assist him,” Doctolero said.
Bello’s camp filed a motion for reconsideration before the Davao prosecutor’s office, but it was denied, Doctolero explained.
“The resolution for his indictment was released last June 9. We filed for a motion for reconsideration with the Prosecutors’ Office which was subsequently denied.”
Under the Philippine laws, cyber libel is a bailable offense. Based on the guidelines for bail for cybercrime offenses, the bail for cyber libel is set at P10,000.
Malabon Rep. Veronique Lacson-Noel and An Waray Rep. Florencio Noel filed House Bill 2971 proposing to place the dissemination of fake news under the punishable acts of Republic Act 10175, or Cybercrime Prevention Law.
“It cannot be stressed enough that nowadays, people have been repeatedly misinformed about what they consider to be data and facts through the advent of fake news,” the proponents said.
They said not even credible sources like media outlets and broadcast stations were spared of the false information spread out by paid trolls to distort the truth and deliberately mislead people to think the opposite of what is actually happening.
“Both misinformation and disinformation must not go unpunished, especially since it poisons the minds of our citizens by distorting the truth,” the bill stated.
The measure defined fake news as misinformation and disinformation of stories, facts, and news which is presented as a fact, the veracity of which cannot be confirmed with the purpose of distorting the truth and misleading its audience. With Gabriellea Parino and Lee Gabriel Seril