World Press Calls for Rappler CEO Maria’s Charges to be Dropped

An arrest warrant against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa was issued on 28 November detailing five counts of tax fraud.

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Returning from a period of travel outside of the country, Ressa, the 2018 laureate of WAN-IFRA’s Golden Pen of Freedom, handed herself in to authorities on Monday, 4 December. In her absence, an arrest warrant had been issued on 28 November detailing five counts of tax fraud. She posted bail shortly after surrendering to the authorities at a regional court in Manila.

“We are appalled by this latest attempt at harassment and intimidation of a critical independent news outlet and its courageous leader.”
Vincent Peyrègne, WAN-IFRA CEO

“Maria Ressa and Rappler have been battling against an increasingly hostile administration for a number of years, yet have defiantly continued reporting into some of the worst abuses of power seen in the Philippines in recent times. These fabricated charges are nothing more than a politicised attempt to silence independent journalism and remove accountability from those perpetuating violence and intimidation against their own people. We stand in solidarity with Maria and are behind her 100% as she fights these latest charges.”

Rappler has led on investigations into President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial ‘War on Drugs’ policy that is reported to have claimed tens of thousands of lives over the past two years. The publication has been particularly vocal about challenging extrajudicial killings and the conduct of police and security forces.

As a consequence, Rappler has faced a raft of judicial and legal cases, tax inspections and administrative investigations that have been brought by government agencies and officials who are actively pursuing the company in an attempt to close down its reporting. In January 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the Philippines revoked Rappler’s license of incorporation, while Ressa continues to be the target of an increasingly hostile, gender-targeted hate campaign designed to undermine her credibility and the legitimacy of Rappler’s reporting.

Speaking after posting bail on Monday, Ressa said she would challenge the process and the latest charges brought against her and her company, and would continue to hold the government accountable – a sentiment echoed in her acceptance speech for the Golden Pen of Freedom in Caiscais, Portugal in June 2018:

“You don’t really know who you are until you’re forced to fight to defend it. Then every battle you win – or lose ... every compromise you choose to make … or to walk away from … all these struggles define the values you live by and, ultimately, who you are. We at Rappler decided that when we look back at this moment a decade from now, we will have done everything we could: we did not duck, we did not hide."

(This story was first published on WAN-IFRA and has been republished in an arrangement.)

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Topics:  Maria Ressa 

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