The International Peace Bureau condemns in the strongest terms the arrest of Walden Bello. It came to us as a shock when we received the news about Walden’s arrest on Monday. Walden, an outstanding scholar and public intellectual has been a close colleague of IPB for years. Bello recently ran against the daughter of former President Duterte for Vice Presidency of the Philippines. On Tuesday, he posted his arrest on twitter, saying “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”
As a prolific scholar of extraordinary vision and integrity, a democracy advocate who was forced into exile by the previous Marcos dictatorship, a leader of the Philippines peace and independence movement, and the founder of the Focus on Global South NGO, Walden’s contribution have been enormous. Joseph Gerson, Vice President of IPB and close friend of Walden described his arrest as a clear “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 about the lack of democracy and freedom in the Philippines. The arrest of this Vice-Presidential candidate appears to be an act of retribution by Vice-President Duterte against her opponent in the recent election. It also appears to be designed to serve a chilling warning to democracy and human rights advocates at the time when the son of former dictator Marcos assumes power in the Philippines”.
While he is being released on bail, it still does not guarantee his freedom, as his trial awaits him.
Bello’s organization, Focus on the Global South, has listed the following ways to support Bello in this difficult time
1. Focus on the Global South has prepared a statement for international sign on by individuals and organizations. You can find it here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/14UPuX3QoRtaZVyVmret2myr-tpn6XJA8fjo9Lk5mL0/edit?usp=sharing
2. Readers not familiar with the case can read and share the prepared fact sheet: Fact Sheet/Case Brief
3. There is also a press release highlighting the breadth of responses to Walden’s persecution, and to generate more international attention and responses: Press Release
4. Focus on the Global South will continue to post statements in support of Walden at this micro-site on the Focus website: https://focusweb.org/defending-rights/ Please share with us the different statements you come across, or that your organizations release.
5. Contributions to Walden’s legal defense are urgently needed. All contributions to Walden’s legal defense fund should go through the Laban ng Masa account that they have publicized in their twitter and social media. Below is the information.
Please use the following bank account details for your transfers (this time with the email and postal address of the recipient):
Acct Name: Antonia B. Garcia
Acct No: 6714 0205 85
Bank: BPI Family Savings Bank
Bank Branch: Isidora Hills, Diliman
Swift Code: BOPIPHMM
Postal address: 70 Encarnacion St BF Homes Barangay Holy Spirit Quezon City 1127 Philippines
6. Loud, aggressive and strong international attention must be generated that condemns the case against Walden, his arrest, and the increasing attacks on the rights to free speech and human rights defenders.