Malacañang says Duterte not behind Rappler tax cases
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said on Monday, December 3, President Rodrigo Duterte had nothing to do with the tax cases filed against Rappler Holdings Corporation and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed 4 tax cases with the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) and a 5th case with the Pasig Regional Trial Court (RTC) in relation to the funds Rappler raised through Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) in 2015. The justice department insists these investments are income that should be taxed.
Pasig RTC Branch 265 Judge Danilo Buemio issued an arrest warrant, and Ressa posted bail Monday morning.
Ressa returned to the Philippines on Sunday evening, December 2, saying she came back to "do what I need to do to face all this," referring to the tax evasion charges.
Asked for a statement on the issue, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said, "We have repeatedly said that we've never and will never interfere with the function of the judiciary. If the judiciary finds probable cause, then we'll have to respect the law on the matter. Ms Ressa is entitled to legal remedies under the law."
He added: "The stand of Malacañang is always, you violate the law, you'll have to account for it.... Every person charged with a crime is presumed innocent unless proven by competent evidence."
When asked about whether the tax cases constituted political persecution, Panelo added: "Definitely not. How can they be prosecuted? It's a question of tax evasion. You violate tax laws and then you'll be prosecuted."
Panelo added Malacañang did not fear backlash for the arrest warrant for Rappler's Ressa, insisting President Duterte had nothing to do with it.
The President's spokesman and chief legal counsel referred to the President's work schedule, saying, "He has too many obligations to fulfill. We can hardly keep up with this man; he's always working. We are amazed at how industrious he is." – Rappler.com