Former Davao CIO to file cyberlibel vs Walden Bello

Contributed photos
Contributed photos

FORMER Davao City Information Officer Jefry Tupas will be filing cyberlibel charges against vice presidential candidate Walden Bello for accusing the former of being involved in a drug trade.

Bello posted on his Facebook account his reaction to the non-appearance of Davao City Mayor and fellow vice presidential candidate Sara Duterte-Carpio in the CNN Philippines debate on Saturday, February 26.

“Sara with a drug dealer? If Davao City is so ‘multi-awarded,’ why is it that... Mayor Duterte’s Press Information Officer Jefry Tupas was nabbed at a beach party where he and her friends were snorting P1.5 million worth of drugs on November 6, 2021? That she did not know she was sheltering a drug dealer is not credible,” Bello said.

Lawyer Caesar S. Europa, Tupas' lawyer, told the media in a press conference on Thursday, March 3, there is a need to correct Bello's statement.

“Jefry Tupas called me up. He was emotionally distraught and emotionally bothered because he is receiving attacks. However, quite recently, there’s another attack and this time, coming from a vice presidential candidate Walden Bello. It was really below the belt. Nakakagalit, nakakalungkot yong ginawa ni Bello (Bello’s actions were infuriating and disappointing),” Europa said.

The lawyer, who has personally known Tupas for a long time, slammed Bello's remark, adding that was never indicted and was never arrested in relation to the case.

“I know this because I am also the lawyer of some of those who were arrested and indicted in that case,” Europa said.

Europa called the accusation "unfair."

“Ang masakit nito, na-invite lang siya sa party, drug dealer kana? Drug addict ka na? (What is painful is that if you were only invited to a party, you will be tagged as drug dealer?) This is guilty by association,” he said.

“It was really unfair and illegal for him to be portrayed as a drug addict and called a drug dealer,” he added.

The lawyer said Bello's remark is a "serious accusation without any evidence," which can fall under the ground of cyberlibel.

Europa said he will be drafting the complaint and Tupas is "seriously" considering filing charges against Bello. However, he said it is going to be up to Tupas whether to go on with it or not.

Last year, the Office of the City Mayor confirmed Tupas's resignation, but he was also terminated from her post after being involved in a drug raid on November 6, 2021 in Mabini, Davao de Oro.

Prior to her resignation, Tupas, in a message forwarded to the media late Monday evening, November 8, confirmed that she was at the beach party in a resort in Barangay Pindasan, Mabini, Davao de Oro on Saturday, November 6, wherein P1.5 million worth of party drugs was confiscated by law enforcers.

Tupas confirmed her presence before the raid, which resulted in the arrest of 17 individuals for possession of illegal drugs.

Meanwhile, Liloan, Cebu Mayor Christina Frasco, Duterte-Carpio's spokesperson, said in a statement that the Davao mayor will be skipping debate invitations to focus on her campaigns on the ground.

Frasco responded to Bello's statement, saying that candidates are not obliged to attend debates.

She also refuted Bello’s statement calling Duterte-Carpio a "talawan (coward)."

“Matud pa ni Walden Bello, talawan kuno si Mayor Sara. Pero kinsa nila ang nagtago sa mga tawo karong kampanya? (According to Walden Bello, Mayor Sara is a coward. But look who’s hiding from the public during the campaign period?)," the spokesperson said.


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