Hontiveros hits Duterte admin’s attempt to ‘muzzle media into fear’
The arrest order issued against Rappler chief executive officer and executive editor Maria Ressa was an attempt by the Duterte administration to “muzzle the media into fear.”
Senator Risa Hontiveros issued this statement after a Pasig City court ordered the arrest of Ressa for tax evasion.
“The issuance of a warrant of arrest against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa is yet another attempt by the Duterte government not only to silence dissent, but also to muzzle the media into fear,” Hontiveros said in a statement on Monday.
“In his attempt to be a full-fledged authoritarian, President Duterte wants to control the free flow of information and neutralize a potential channel of criticism,” she added.
The opposition senator also claimed that the current administration is implementing a “harass the dissenters, protect the plunderers” policy.
“The Duterte government exerts ridiculous efforts to legally intimidate and even jail political dissenters while giving preferential treatment to the likes of Imelda Marcos, even going so far as to mask it as due process and compassion,” she said.
“Mabagsik sa media at oposisyon, pero maamong tuta naman sa mga mandarambong,” she added.
With this, she called on the public and members of the press to “close ranks in defending the rights” of Ressa.
“Now more than ever, we must not allow ourselves to be intimidated into silence,” Hontiveros said.
Earlier, Ressa posted a P60,000-bail at Pasig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 265 after her voluntary surrender to the court.
Ressa and Rappler face four tax evasion cases filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) purportedly for breaching Section 255 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) of 1997. Three of the cases were filed before the Court of Tax Appeals and the other one was filed at the Pasig City RTC.
Based on the complaint, Ressa and Rappler Holdings Corp. failed to indicate in the company’s 2015 tax returns the total gain of almost P162.5 million from its issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) to Washington DC-based NBM Rappler LP, a unit of North Base Media and Omidyar Network Find LLC.
However, Rappler had dismissed the charges, calling it a clear case of political prosecution.
The news media outfit is known to be critical of the Duterte administration, especially in its campaign against illegal drugs. /kga
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