The critical voices in the Philippines take time without being welcome. The regime of Rodrigo Duterte has been taken against senators, the media and, now, also journalists. Maria Ressa, founder of the independent means of Rappler, very critical of the drug war to the president, has been accused of tax evasion and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Ressa, won several international awards, is ready to combat some accusations that he considers “ridiculous”.

“I Will do what is necessary to face all this”, she stressed blunt Ressa to your arrival at the airport of Manila on the night of this Sunday, after having been in Europe and the USA, where he received the award Gwen Ifil to the freedom of the press Committee for the Protection of Journalists Award and the Knight International Journalism.


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Ressa, who prior to founding Rappler in 2012, directed the office of CNN in the Philippines, he returned to the philippine capital to face the judicial process initiated against you. A court of Manila issued last week a warrant of arrest against her after admitting to process five claims of tax evasion brought by the Justice department of the philippines. Ressa eluded initially the detention pay on Monday a bail of 1,140 dollars (1,000 euros) until the trial. “I’m going to make the Government accountable for calling me a criminal,” said Ressa to several reporters who were waiting at the airport on Sunday, according to a video posted by Rappler.

The charges against Ressa are related to a debt issuance in 2015 by Rappler that contributed to the digital medium benefits of $ 3 million (2.6 million euros). According to the Government, Rappler has not paid the corresponding taxes on this financial transaction, but has not specified how much should the public purse. “Personally, I have always paid my taxes. And obviously the company that I also pay that you are entitled to. I have no doubt that we will win”, he emphasized Ressa at the airport.

For Ressa and their lawyers the charges are “politically motivated” and lack of legal basis, because they allege that that are based on qualify to Rappler, which is a means of communication, as an agent of values. “I run out of synonyms of the word ‘ridiculous’. I’m obviously not a stockbroker. I’m a journalist and I’ve always been,” he argued. Restbet

this is Not the first time that Rappler has problems with the philippine authorities, nor is it the only medium of the country harassed by the Government. At the beginning of the year, the Securities and Exchange Commission withdrew the license to operate to Rappler because the company had violated, allegedly, the constitutional provision which prohibits individuals or foreign entities to own media. The state agency’s decision was based on this digital diary received in 2015 funding from Omidyar Network (a fund of Pierre Omidyar, founder and chairman of eBay)

Then, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch accused the Executive of violating the freedom of the press. Duterte has also threatened to block the renewal of the license to the giant audiovisual ABS-CBN, critical of its policies, and the former owners of the independent Philippine Dairy Inquirer were also accused of tax evasion, causing the journal was to be sold to a billionaire close to Duterte.

“The press is being attacked. It is time to fight, to tell the Government: this is the line and not the can not cross,” he emphasized Ressa about it. The philippine Government, for its part, denies the direct involvement of Duterte in the process against the journalist and he argues that it is “a question of tax evasion”, said Monday the president’s spokesman, Salvador Panelo. “If you violate the tax laws, then you are prosecuted,” he said.

But Duterte has directed words hostile to both Rappler as to Ressa in the past. The president has accused the media to disseminate fake news (false news) and came to report to Ressa as a CIA agent. Ressa and another journalist from the media were banned from the events held at the presidential palace.

Since winning the election in 2016, Duterte has been especially combative against those who have questioned his drug war that has left thousands dead in the country in the past two years. In cases such as the Ressa addition, for example, the arrests of senators Antonio Trillanes and Leila de Lima, very critical with the president’s policies.

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) has urged the philippine authorities to drop the charges against Ressa, who in a statement calls it a “attempt to politicized to silence independent journalism”. Brad Adams, director for Asia of Human Rights Watch, has stressed that the case “sends a chilling message to journalists and activists filipinos that they will be persecuted if they report the bloody campaign (anti-drug)” Duterte.