Won’t Back Down
Listen to Today's Edition
A Philippine court acquitted Nobel laureate Maria Ressa and her news site Rappler on Tuesday of tax fraud charges, a ruling seen as another legal victory for the embattled journalist and the state of press freedom in the Southeast Asian nation, Reuters reported.
Ressa, CEO of Rappler, had earned a reputation for her intense scrutiny of former President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2018, the government accused Ressa and Rappler of dodging tax payments after failing to declare the proceeds of a 2015 sale of depositary receipts to foreign investors. Ressa and her organization faced five tax fraud indictments, but a court acquitted them of four charges in January.
On Tuesday, a separate court also found she did not violate the country’s tax code, the Associated Press added.
Ressa welcomed the ruling, saying it sends a “good signal” to the business community as her tax charges “have a lot to do with the rule of law.”
She is currently on bail after being convicted in 2020 in a libel case. That conviction is on appeal with the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, Rappler continues to operate pending its appeal against a closure order from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Philippine journalist has called the cases against her and the outlet politically motivated.
In 2021, Ressa and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov received the Nobel Peace Prize for their dedication to preserving freedom of expression and resisting government attempts to silence them.
The Philippines is placed at 132 out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index. It characterizes the country’s media landscape as “extremely vibrant,” despite the government’s persistent targeting and harassment of journalists who are “too critical.”