WITH PROBABLE CAUSE | DOJ indicts Rappler for tax evasion
4 months ago
NOVEMBER 9, 2018 – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has found probable cause to file charges against online news organization Rappler for alleged tax evasion and failure to file tax returns.
“The National Prosecution Service (NPS) has found probable cause to indict Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC), its President Maria Ressa and its independent Certified Public Accountant Noel Baladiang for violation of the National Internal Revenue Code or the tax code,” Justice Undersecretary Mark Perete said in a statement.
The case stemmed from the complaint filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue in March, accusing RHC of evading P133.84 million worth of taxes from Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) sold to foreign investors.
The indictment was signed on October 2 by Assistant Prosecutor Zenamar Machacon-Caparros but was only released to media on Friday.
Rappler, in an article published in their website, argued that the move was a clear form of harassment and intimidation.
“We are not at all surprised by the decision, considering how the Duterte administration has been treating Rappler for its independent and fearless reporting… We maintain that this is a clear form of continuing intimidation and harassment against us, and an attempt to silence journalists.”
Rappler’s legal counsel Francis Lim also maintained that the firm did not miss any tax obligation.
“Clearly, this case has no legal leg to stand on because it presumes, wrongly, that Rappler is a dealer in securities that profited from a sale,” Lim said.
“The resolution will have a chilling effect on those who have raised and will raise capital through the issuance of PDRs and is a blow to the development of our already laggard capital markets. We will pursue all legal remedies and we are optimistic that we will prevail in the end,” Lim added.
On January 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission revoked Rappler’s certificate of incorporation for accepting funding from foreign investors which it considered unconstitutional.