MANILA MalacaAang on Monday said Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa is entitled to legal remedies amid an arrest warrant issued against her over multiple tax evasion cases.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after Ressa on Sunday confirmed that an arrest warrant has been issued against her and that she is ready to post bail.
Miss Ressa is entitled to legal remedies under the law and she has her lawyers, so I don't think she has a problem with respect to losing her liberty because she is precisely going to post bail, Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
Panelo said MalacaAang will never interfere with the function of the judiciary as well as the other branches of government.
If the judiciary finds probable cause for an information filed then we have to respect the law on the matter, Panelo said.
The stand of MalacaAang is always: 'You violate the law, you will have to account for it.' That has been the policy and will always be the policy of the Duterte administration, he added.
Panelo also denied that the cases filed against Ressa are acts of persecution by the executive department but simply due to tax evasion.
It's a question of tax evasion. You violate tax laws and then you will be persecuted, Panelo said.
He, however, said Ressa may be acquitted if she can prove that the charges filed against her are baseless.
If you have a justifiable reason for so doing or will introduce evidence to show that it's not true then you will be acquitted, Panelo said.
Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence and that includes everybody, including Miss Ressa, he added.
Panelo rejected claims that President Rodrigo R. Duterte himself had a hand at Ressa's arrest warrant since he has repeatedly slammed Rappler for being critical of his war on drugs and other policies.
He (the President) has too many obligations to fulfill. As we said, we can hardly cope with this man, he's always working. We are amazed at how industrious he is, Panelo said.
Ressa and Rappler Holdings Corp. (RHC) face five tax evasion cases filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The most recent complaint was filed by state prosecutors before a Pasig trial court for alleged violation of Sec. 255 of the National Internal Revenue Code.
The charge accused Rappler of having "fail(ed) to report the quarterly sales receipts coming from the issue and sale by RHC of Philippine Depositary Receipts as a dealer in securities to NBM Rappler in the total amount of PHP2.54 million."
This resulted in unpaid deficiency value-added tax of PHP294,000 due to the government, excluding surcharge and interest, the indictment said.
Ressa, who was recently out of the country to receive awards for Rappler, said she is ready to face the charges filed against her. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency