Today, we celebrate the triumph of facts over politics.
On Wednesday, January 18, the 1st Division of the Philippine Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) acquitted Nobel laureate Maria Ressa and Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC) of the tax evasion charges filed by the past Duterte government.
We thank the court for this just decision and for recognizing that the fraudulent, false, and flimsy charges made by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) do not have any basis in fact. An adverse decision would have had far-reaching repercussions on both the press and the capital markets.
A politicized BIR under the Duterte administration deliberately ignored evidence that ran counter to its false conclusions that Rappler Holdings was a dealer in securities, made a profit from raising capital, and failed to pay the proper taxes from these supposed earnings.
The BIR began a lightning tax probe into RHC and Ressa in January 2018, sought documents on March 5, 2018, and after three days published a press release on its website announcing its tax evasion complaint against them. This, in the absence of any documents submitted by Rappler. By November of the same year, even without a physical and thorough examination of RHC’s books and records, the BIR and the Department of Justice (DOJ) caused the filing of criminal cases at the CTA.
This is brazen harassment and abuse of power. How many more companies, businesses, and even private individuals have been subjected to this kind of harassment and unethical conduct of government officials and agencies? How many have been victimized and what recourse do they have?
The CTA saw through the shenanigans and decided against the BIR and the DOJ. We welcome the professionalism and the sense of justice and fairness that marked the court’s decision.
Rappler will continue to dream big and explore what technology can offer. This is what fired our vision when RHC sought to increase capital and grow the business through Philippine Depositary Receipts in 2015. We believed then, as we do now, that journalism, technology, and empowered communities will be the guardrails of any democracy.
Maria Ressa and RHC may have won today. But so did the ordinary taxpayer and businessman being unjustly harassed by the BIR.
With you, we will continue to #HoldTheLine. – Rappler.com
As we celebrate the triumph of facts over politics, we want to thank you, our readers, for holding the line with us through the years. If you want to stay updated with Rappler’s other cases and be part of a community that supports press freedom, we invite you to join Rappler+, our membership program, here.