MANILA, Philippines – David Kaye, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, released a statement on Thursday, December 6, calling on the Philippine government to drop its charges against Rappler Holdings Corporation and its president, Maria Ressa.
“In light of past measures taken against Rappler, I am concerned that the charges of tax evasion constitute an attempt to silence the news outlet’s independent reporting,” Kaye said.
He called the charges “a serious threat against independent and investigative journalism in the Philippines, and will have implications beyond its borders.” (READ: Journalists, media groups and advocates slam ‘attempt to silence Rappler’)
Rappler and Ressa have been charged at the Pasig RTC with violation of Section 255 of the tax code – that Rappler supposedly failed to supply correct information in their Value Added Tax (VAT) return for the 2nd quarter of tax year 2015.
One of the 5 tax cases filed against Rappler, the 4 other cases, which stemmed from the same issue in the same year of 2015, are filed before the Court of Tax Appeals.
Rappler and Ressa have filed a motion to quash, asking the court to void the charges if not to remand investigation to the Department of Justice (DOJ) – or at least suspend proceedings while they avail of appeal remedies.
Ressa is scheduled to be arraigned Friday, December 7. – Rappler.com