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BIR files tax evasion case vs Rappler

by admin   |   Posted on Thursday, 8 March 2018 08:55 PM

FILE IMAGE: Rappler’s Maria Ressa

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has filed a tax evasion complaint against the online news site Rappler.

The BIR said Rappler failed to pay taxes worth P133-million in 2015 including income and value added tax.

The agency is running after the Rappler’s president and CEO, Maria Ressa and its treasurer, James Bitanga.

Also included in the complaint is certified public accountant Noel Baladiang for signing and certifying the financial statements of Rappler even when, according to BIR, the online news site clearly failed to declare its real income.

Meanwhile, Malacañang described the million-peso tax evasion case against Rappler Holdings Corporation as a mere law enforcement.

“It’s just implementation of the law. If there is really tax evasion, violators should be held liable. If I were the one who received the 1.5 million dollars, I should have paid taxes,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. — UNTV News & Rescue

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Court of Appeals denies Rappler plea on SEC case

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, 11 March 2019 06:59 PM

Court of Appeals facade (UNTV News)

MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld its earlier decision declaring that the online news site Rappler is not fully owned by Filipinos.

In a resolution promulgated on February 21, 2019, CA rejected the plea of Rappler and its holding company, Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC) to reverse its July 2018 decision to affirm the order of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in revoking its business articles of incorporation for alleged violation of ownership restrictions.

The SEC, in January 2018, cancelled Rappler’s registration for allegedly violating the constitutional requirement for mass media to be 100-percent Filipino-owned because it allowed Omidyar Network to hold Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDR).

The appellate court said in its ruling, that Rappler failed to raise any new argument, reiterating that there was no violation on the part of SEC when it revoked the online site’s registration due to ownership issue.

“After careful scrutiny of the instant motion, this court finds that it presents no compelling reason to justify the reconsideration of this court’s decision dated 26 July 2018. The arguments raised by petitioners are essentially the same as those that have already been discussed and were exhaustively passed upon in this Court’s decision,” the resolution read.

Rappler has long insisted that it is completely Filipino-owned and is not covered by a Philippine law prohibiting foreigners from owning a mass media entity.

The Court, however, said that Rappler is a mass media entity despite its argument that its online nature was not among the mass media acknowledged under the law, because its actions, as well as its articles of incorporations and by-law, stated that it is in the business not fully Filipino ownedof operating news, information and social network services.

CA also said that it needs further study on Omidyar Network’s action of donating all of its PDRs to Rappler staff, which Rappler claims to have already addressed what was previously found objectionable by SEC.

“It is incumbent upon the SEC to evaluate the terms and conditions of said alleged supervising donation and its legal effect, particularly, whether the same has the effect of mitigating, if not curing, the violation it found petitioners to have committed. If so, this may warrant a re-examination of the sanction of revocation of petitioners’ Certificates of Incorporation imposed by the SEC En Banc in the assailed decision,” CA said.

“In view of the said directive, this court will refrain from discussing the donation so as not to preempt the evaluation, and the subsequent finding and conclusion to be reached by the SEC. Besides, this court notes that petitioners are merely seeking partial reconsideration of this Court’s decision, which means that its ruling remanding the case and directing the SEC to conduct an evaluation of the legal effect of the alleged donation stands and binds petitioner,” the court concluded. – Robie de Guzman

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Manila Court resets Rappler CEO Ressa’s arraignment on cyberlibel rap

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, 1 March 2019 02:26 PM

Rappler CEO, Maria Ressa

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 on Friday deferred the arraignment of news site Rappler’s Chief Executive Officer, Maria Ressa, on her cyberlibel case until a motion they have filed to quash the case has been resolved.

The court has ordered the Department of Justice to comment within 15 days on Ressa’s motion, which questions the charge sheet against the accused and urges the court to dismiss the case.

The court moved the arraignment to April 12.

Ressa personally attended the hearing on Friday morning with her legal team, led by former Supreme Court Spokesperson Atty. Theodore Te and Atty. Chel Diokno.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by businessman, Wilfredo Keng over a Rappler article published in 2012, which reported about Keng’s alleged involvement in illegal drugs and human trafficking.

Ressa’s camp argued that the story was published around four months before the landmark Cybercrime Law was enacted. But the prosecution panel insisted that Rappler republished the article on February 2014 when the law had already taken effect.

Ressa’s lawyers then pointed out that a Supreme Court Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the Cybercrime Prevention Act was in effect when the said article was republished.

Diokno explained that the law took effect in September 2012 but the SC restrained its implementation until April 2014 after some groups challenged the constitutionality of the measure.

Te also stressed that there is no existing rule on multiple publication in the country in relation with the Cybercrime law.

Ressa, meanwhile, said that the cyber libel case against her, which was among the ten cases and six warrants of arrest she faced in a year, was just part of legal acrobatics. – Robie de Guzman (with reports from Mai Bermudez)

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Robredo, Aquino, Ressa allege human rights violation reincarnation under Duterte administration

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, 27 February 2019 05:57 AM

(L-R) Vice President Leni Robredo, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, former President Benigno Aquino III

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo expressed disappointment over what she claimed as the mounting culture of impunity under the Duterte Administration.

This, after the Vice President learned that one of the awardees of the Ka Pepe Human Rights Awards, Bishop Pablo David, was not able to attend the said event because of death threats that he has been receiving.

Rappler Chief Executive Offcier, Maria Ressa, also one of the awardees, said the present administration has been using social media to silence its critics, may they be individuals or groups.

Ressa said, “the campaign pages of Duterte are connected with the campaign pages of Marcos this is the disinformation ecosystem when things go viral, that group refuses to share traditional media, the facts because they are actively creating an alternative information ecosystem where lies are the truth.”

Meanwhile, former president, Benigno Aquino III said the harassment that happened under the Marcos regime are now being replicated by the present administration.

He further claimed that “yung lumang ala-ala ng kadiliman ng Batas Militar, ngayon pinatitingkad nang husto [the dark memories of Martial Law are now intensified].”

Atty. Chel Diokno, son of Ka Pepe Diokno for whom the award was named after, pointed to President Rodrigo Duterte as the one behind the threats against Catholic priests. The President, however, denied the allegation. —Maris Federez (with reports from Grace Casin)

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