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News Briefs: April 4, 2019

Ressa pleads not guilty to 4 tax evasion cases

Rappler executive editor and CEO Maria Ressa pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to four tax evasion cases during her arraignment in the Court of Tax Appeals.

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The court’s First Division also allowed Ressa to travel to Italy and the United States for speaking engagements and set the trial for May 15.

The tax cases stemmed from funds invested by US-based Omidyar Network in Rappler that the Department of Justice said constituted taxable income of P162 million that Ressa and Rappler Holdings Corp. failed to declare in 2015.

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The Securities and Exchange Commission has separately revoked Rappler’s license over what it ruled was a breach of a constitutional ban on foreign ownership of media. —Patricia Denies M. Chiu

Palace to submit ‘Tokhang’ report to Supreme Court

Malacañang on Wednesday said it would obey the Supreme Court order instructing the government to submit the documents related to the police “Oplan Tokhang” and “Oplan Double Barrel,” which had led to the killings of more than 4,000 people in President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs.

“We always follow the rule of the law. The Supreme Court has spoken,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

The court issued the order after Solicitor General Jose Calida failed to submit the reports.

The Commission on Human Rights on Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court order. —Christine O. Avendaño and Patricia Denise M. Chiu

Focus on arresting ‘super big-time drug lords,’ PDEA urged

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The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) should use its resources in going after “super big-time drug lords” to ensure the success of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on Wednesday.

“Sometimes we hear the PDEA confiscating even [small amounts] of illegal drugs. That’s a waste of resources. I think they should delineate those responsibilities,” Lacson said in a television interview.

“The PDEA must [go after] super big-time drug lords” and conduct operations to dismantle the syndicates, instead of focusing on “demand reduction,” he added. —Marlon Ramos

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TAGS: CEO Maria Ressa, drug lords, news briefs, Oplan Tokhang, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)
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