Asia Europe People’s Forum (AEPF) Statement
We are shocked at the charges of cyberlibel against Dr Walden Bello an internationally acknowledged professor and activist. We condemn the subsequent arrest and persecution that Prof. Walden is facing. We believe that the charges and the treatment being meted out to Prof Walden indicates that democracy and democratic rights that the Pilipino people have struggled for over so many years is imperilled.
Charging and arresting Walden Bello- an internationally recognised dissident and thought leader who fought a legitimate mass campaign in the recent elections, shows that opposition voices are facing all kinds of harassment by state authorities.
We call for immediate release of Dr Bello. We ask that all charges against him be dropped. We ask the Philippines government to deepen democracy, ensure the space for human rights and a culture of tolerance.
Laban ng Masa Statement
Laban ng Masa condemns in the strongest terms the filing of cyberlibel charges and the subsequent arrest today of its Chairperson, Dr. Walden Bello, by operatives of the Quezon City police. This is obviously a case of a state-sponsored persecution and repression of the right to free expression. That a highly-respected and world-renowned scholar-intellectual and activist like Dr. Bello has been victimized by this highhanded police operation speaks volumes on the state of democracy and freedom in the Philippines. It also serves as a warning to democracy and human rights advocates on what would befall them while standing up for the right to express one’s views and criticize wrongdoings by the rich and powerful.
The cyberlibel case against Dr. Bello is clearly a proxy harassment with no less than Vice President Sara Duterte as the real protagonist. She uses a former aide as a cover for her own vindictive behavior. Just as Ms. Duterte and her running mate and now President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. had repeatedly cowardly refused to participate in debates with other candidates, so she is now running true to form by putting up a dummy to file the charge against Dr. Bello.