Maria Ressa’s acquittal of tax evasion raps a ‘win for free, defiant journalism’ — Hontiveros
MANILA, Philippines — The acquittal of journalist and Nobel Laureate Maria Ressa of tax evasion charges is an “important win” for the country’s press, Senator Risa Hontiveros said on Wednesday.
The first division of the Court of Tax Appeals acquitted Ressa and her news outlet Rappler of four counts of tax evasion charges.
READ: Rappler, Maria Ressa acquitted of tax evasion charge
“The dismissal of these trumped-up cases is an important win for free and defiant journalism in the Philippines,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“In a democracy, truth-telling and sharing independent views is not a crime – even if it irks and annoys the powers that be. I am one with our nation’s free press in continuing to hold the line and fighting for a truly free and democratic nation. As always, courage on,” she went on.
Hontiveros hoped other charges against Ressa and Rappler would likewise be junked soon.
“These [charges] were only intended to silence and intimidate members of the media from reporting on and speaking against the excesses of the previous administration, particularly on the bloody, abusive, and failed war on drugs,” she said.
The continuing harassment against journalists, the opposition senator said, “only wastes government funds, resources, and attention.”
“These vindictive efforts should end immediately,” said Hontiveros.
The Department of Justice lodged the tax evasion case in 2018 over Rappler and Ressa’s failure to declare a P162.41-million profit from the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) in 2015.
READ: DOJ files tax evasion charges against Rappler and its president
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