HRW takes up cudgels for Rappler
Rights defenders yesterday branded the move by the Department of Justice to indict Rappler and its chief executive officer and founder, Maria Ressa, for tax evasion and failure to file tax returns as clearly a desperate attempt by the Duterte administration to shut down one of the critical voices in Philippine journalism.
Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said Rappler has been in the crosshairs of the administration from day one because of its unrelenting and exceptional coverage of corruption and malfeasance in government, particularly the drug war.
Adams said prior to the indictment, Rappler was subjected to a barrage of harassment and intimidation by the administration, starting with President Duterte himself.
“This includes threats on social media and blocking the news website’s reporter from covering the presidential palace. This case against Rappler is a clear assault on press freedom in the Philippines and part of the Duterte government’s attempt to evade scrutiny and accountability,” he added.
Earlier, the Department of Justice indicted Rappler Holdings Corp. (RHC) for tax evasion and failure to file tax returns.
Assistant State Prosecutor Zenmar Machacon-Caparros upheld a complaint filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue against RHC and Ressa for “willful attempt to evade or defeat tax and willful failure to supply correct and accurate information under Sections 254 and 255, repsectively of the tax code.”