On April 20, 2022, vice Presidential candidate Walden Bello handed in his counter affidavit regarding a cyberlibel complaint filed against him at the Davao City Prosecutor’s Office. The complaint was filed by former City Information Office head Jefry Tupas. Tupas attended a beach party in November 2021 where a drug raid was conducted. In a Facebook post, Bello allegedly portrayed her as a “drug addict and drug dealer.” Bello denies these allegations, saying the claim has “hardly any basis in truth and fact” and is politically motivated.
After Bello publicly stated that the Davao City government was corrupt and that the city was a hub for illegal drugs, he was declared “persona non grata” in Davao City by the city council on March 22, 2022. The regional party of Davao’s City Mayor and vice-presidential candidate Sara Duterte, Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), labeled Bello as a “narco-politician”. He allegedly withheld information in the fight against illegal drugs, which is why the HNP ordered an investigation into Bello’s suspected knowledge of drug trafficking in the city.
International human rights organizations have been demanding the decriminalization of libel for a long time. In the Philippines, such lawsuits are frequently used to intimidate members of the opposition and in particular journalists. Following a resolution issued by the Prosecutor’s Office of General Santos on March 31, 2022 (published on April 11), 21 out of a total of 50 cases of cyberlibel against the online news agency Rappler were dismissed.