Rappler: Attempt to Silence Critics of Duterte

As their popular support wanes, leaders with authoritarian styles hurry to stifle criticism. Rodrigo Duterte was elected president of the Philippines in 2016, and his war on corruption has since expanded into attacks against critics. The Department of Justice has indicted Rappler Holdings Corporation for tax evasion. Rappler, which publishes articles critical of the Duterte regime, denies the charges while journalists worldwide are supporting the independent news site. “Editors of several foreign media organizations as well as journalism professors, including Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron and Huffington Post editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen, expressed concern over attempts to silence the press,” reports Rappler.com. “The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism said the tax evasion case is the ‘latest attempt to intimidate independent journalists and silence one of the few critical news outlets left in the country.’" Rappler is a partner publication for YaleGlobal Online. – YaleGlobal

Rappler: Attempt to Silence Critics of Duterte

As Rappler in the Philippines faces another legal battle, foreign journalists express support for the media organization, urging others to defend press freedom
Sunday, November 11, 2018

Rappler, Manila, Philippines: Foreign journalists, scholars, and other members of non-governmental organizations voiced out their support for Rappler as it faces legal battles triggered by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

On Twitter, they slammed the recent decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to indict Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC) for tax evasion, an allegation that the company maintains is baseless.

David Kaye, United Nations special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, called the move a "travesty."

Editors of several foreign media organizations as well as journalism professors, including Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron and Huffington Post editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen, expressed concern over attempts to silence the press.

They also noted that the situation reflects a global phenomenon.

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism said the tax evasion case is the "latest attempt to intimidate independent journalists and silence one of the few critical news outlets left in the country."

The indictment on Friday, November 9, is the latest in a string of cases filed against Rappler since January 2017. (READ: FAQs: Rappler's SEC case) The media organization, however, maintains "this is a clear form of continuing intimidation and harassment" and "an attempt to silence reporting that does not please the administration."  Rappler.com

 

Rappler Statement

On Friday, November 9, the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted Rappler Holdings Corporation for tax evasion and failure to file tax returns.

We are not at all surprised by the decision, considering how the Duterte administration has been treating Rappler for its independent and fearless reporting. (READ: The Rappler story: Journalism with an impact)

We maintain that this is a clear form of continuing intimidation and harassment against us, and an attempt to silence journalists.

Our lawyers went to the DOJ shortly past 10 am on Friday to check on the status of the complaint.

They were told by the docket office of the department's National Prosecution Service that no resolution had been forwarded to them.

Yet, the DOJ statement on Friday said the resolution was signed as early as October 2, 2018.

"Let me reiterate that Rappler Holdings has not evaded the payment of any tax obligations in relation to its sale of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) to two foreign entities in 2015," said Rappler's legal counsel Francis Lim, a securities law expert.

"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 added.

"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."

Copyright Rappler: Content published on Rappler are either our property or the property of those who allowed us to use and publish their works.

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