Palace denies hand in charges vs Rappler, Maria Ressa
Malacañang on Monday said that the issuance of an arrest warrant against online news site Rappler’s chief executive officer Maria Ressa for alleged tax evasion is not politically motivated.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the remark after Ressa confirmed on Sunday that an arrest warrant has been issued against her due to multiple tax evasion cases filed by the government.
“How can they be prosecuted? It’s a question of tax evasion, you violate tax laws then you will be prosecuted,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
“If you have a justifiable reason for so doing or have… evidence to show that it’s not true, then you will be acquitted,” he added.
President Duterte, in his public speeches, has often criticized Rappler and had called it a “fake news outlet.”
“We have repeatedly said that we have never and we’ll never interfere with the function of the judiciary,” Panelo said.
“If the judiciary finds probable cause for an information filed, then we have to respect the law on the matter,” he added.
Panelo also said Ressa is “entitled to the presumption of innocence” and can avail of legal remedies, which include posting bail for her temporary liberty.
Rappler and Ressa have been charged with tax evasion in the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) and the Pasig City Regional Trial Court (RTC).
The criminal charges filed by Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors stemmed from Rappler Holdings Corp.’s (RHC) alleged failure to declare a P162.41-million profit from the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) in 2015.
Rappler had dismissed the charges, calling it a clear case of political prosecution. /je
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