Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release

Contact

Dan Beeton, beeton@cepr.net

Press Release

CEPR Condemns Politically Motivated Arrest of Former Board Member Walden Bello in the Philippines

WASHINGTON -

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) strongly condemns the arrest of its former board member Walden Bello in the Philippines by members of the Quezon city police, and calls for all charges to be dropped. The arrest Monday, for alleged “cyber libel” against a former aide to Vice President Sara Duterte — an offense punishable by several years in prison — is a clear attempt to crack down on political opposition and dissent. Bello, a former congress member, ran for vice president in elections earlier this year as a candidate with the Laban ng Masa coalition, and was a prominent critic of the Marcos dictatorship in the 1980s. The former dictator Ferdinand Marcos’s son, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., was inaugurated as the Philippines’ new president on June 30, 2022.

“Walden is truly a global leader in worldwide movements for economic and social justice, and to break the iron rule that the most powerful people in high-income countries wield over the institutions of global governance, which they do to the detriment of the majority of the world,” CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said. “And he’s long been a leading voice for justice, accountability, and democracy in the Philippines, which is why he’s being targeted.”

Bello was released on bail after spending the night in jail. Prior to his arrest, Bello had reportedly only recently begun recovering from a COVID-19 infection, and Bello supporters and others expressed concern for his health.

After his release, Bello Tweeted: “Arrested late afternoon Monday on silly charge of cyberlibel posted by the camp of Sarah Duterte. These people are mistaken if they think they can silence me and suppress my exercise of free speech.”

“This is an ominous start to the Marcos presidency,” Weisbrot said. “It appears that the Philippine authorities are continuing with the repression of freedom of speech and freedom of the press that was a hallmark of the Rodrigo Duterte government. It hearkens back to the dark days of the original Marcos dictatorship.”

CEPR calls on the White House and the US State Department to communicate to the Marcos administration that it condemns the political persecution of Bello and other critics of the Marcos and Duterte governments. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had met with President Marcos just days before Bello’s arrest.

“Walden served on CEPR’s board during most of its existence, and has been a longtime friend and ally,” Weisbrot said. “He has devoted his life to advancing equality, justice, and democracy in the Philippines and around the world, and to fighting for working and low-income people. He is truly a leading intellect and inspiration, a champion in the global struggle for a more just, equitable, and democratic world.”

Laban ng Masa announced that it will hold a press conference to address Bello’s arrest tomorrow, Wednesday, August 10, at 10:00 a.m. local time (Tuesday, 10:00 p.m., ET) which will be streamed live on the coalition’s Facebook page.

###

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

$158,000 Cost for ALS Treatment Called 'A Poster Child' for Unjust Drug Pricing

"The price of the newly approved drug combination Relyvrio to treat ALS," said one critic, "is yet another clear and powerful example of unjustified high prices set by drug companies that ultimately exploit patients."

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Takes 'Important First Step' With AI Bill of Rights Blueprint

While many experts welcomed the White House proposal to ensure automated systems don't erode civil liberties, others lamented the voluntary nature of what one tech writer called the "toothless" plan.

Brett Wilkins ·


The Onion Files 'Masterfully Written' Amicus Brief in Support of Jailed Parodist

"As the globe's premier parodists, The Onion's writers also have a self-serving interest in preventing political authorities from imprisoning humorists."

Brett Wilkins ·


Jayapal Accuses Democratic Leaders of Botching Stock Trading Ban

"This should have been a no-brainer," said the Washington Democrat.

Julia Conley ·


Climate Coalition Pushes Social Media CEOs to End Planet-Killing Disinformation

"Platforms owe it to their users and the planet to stop amplifying the climate disinformation that undermines our ability to combat the climate crisis."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo