Vice President and concurrent Education Secretary Sara Duterte slammed former vice presidential rival Walden Bello on Tuesday for accusing her of having a hand in his arrest over a libel case.
In a statement, Duterte said Bello should stop obsessing over her, considering she has long remained silent despite the latter’s offensive attacks during the campaign period.
“Mr. Bello should focus on salvaging what remains of his dignity and self-respect, I am asking him to stop obsessing over me — and stop blaming me for his fall from grace,” Duterte said.
The Vice President described Bello’s claim that the arrest was a political attack as “imaginary.”
“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 said.
Duterte said Bello should “stop blaming [her] for his fall from grace.”
In an interview, Bello said he was not guilty of the charges against him.
“I say that I am innocent of the charges of libel that have been filed by the camp of Vice President Sara Duterte. It is pure political persecution,” he said.
Former presidential candidate, Leody de Guzman noted that Bello’s arrest was a form of “political repression.”
On Monday, the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) arrested Bello for two counts of cyber libel filed by former Davao City information officer Jefry Tupas.
The complaint cited Bello’s alleged Facebook post where he “claimed” that “Tupas and her friends were snorting P1.5-million worth of drugs” last year, as well as Duterte’s supposed statement that she was unaware of “sheltering a drug dealer.”
The Davao City Prosecutor’s Office issued the arrest warrant for two counts of violations of Republic Act 10175 or Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
“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 said in a tweet.
Tupas in March filed cyber libel complaints against Bello after the then-vice presidential candidate accused the city official of being involved in illegal drugs after she was seen attending a beach party where agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency seized some P1.5 million worth of party drugs.
Tupas admitted to attending the event, but said she left after eating and before the raid happened.