Philippine journalist Ressa takes stand to rebut gov't tax evasion lawsuits


3/3

© Reuters. Filipino journalist and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa arrives at the Court of Tax Appeals to testify in tax evasion cases against her and Rappler, in Quezon City

2/3

MANILA (Reuters) – Veteran Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, who runs a website known for its tough scrutiny of President Rodrigo Duterte, took the witness stand for the first time on Thursday to counter tax evasion charges that she maintains were politically motivated.

Ressa, a Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2018 for fighting media intimidation, is facing several government lawsuits that have stoked international concern about harassment of journalists in the Philippines, a country once seen as a standard bearer for press freedom in Asia.

Speaking to reporters after testifying for two and a half hours in Manila, Ressa asked the government to allow journalists to work freely and independently. “We’re here to work with you, and you will want us to do that,” she said.

Ressa, 57, chief executive of the news site Rappler (www.rappler.com), was convicted of libel in June 2020 and sentenced to up to six years in prison, a ruling widely seen as a blow to democratic freedoms under Duterte’s increasingly popular authoritarianism. She was freed on bail.

Her court appearance on Thursday is over accusations that Rappler falsified tax returns by omitting the proceeds of a sale of depositary receipts to foreign investors, which later became the securities regulator’s basis to revoke its licence to operate.

The securities regulator alleges that Rappler allowed foreigners to illegally own shares in a domestic media firm, a charge it denies. Rappler is still operating pending its appeal against its license being revoked.

READ  Here's who stands to get rich from Uber's IPO

Ressa, the last witness to be presented by the defence in the tax evasion lawsuits, said she decided to take the stand because “no one knows (the company) better”.

“I felt good afterwards. I was happy to talk to respond to the charges,” she said. “If the government believes that they can intimidate me, no, I won’t allow it.”

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque has repeatedly said Duterte supported freedom of speech even as the mercurial leader has publicly lashed out at Rappler, calling it a “fake news outlet” sponsored by American spies.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





READ SOURCE

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here