World News

Manila journalist posts bail over tax evasion case

Manila journalist posts bail over tax evasion case

Faced with arrest over tax evasion, the acclaimed founder of an online news site in the Philippines turned herself in to the authorities yesterday, in what is being seen as the latest episode in the ongoing crackdown on critics of President Rodrigo Duterte. The rights group Amnesty International, meanwhile, claimed it was "an alarming attempt to silence independent journalism". "I am definitely not a stockbroker", Ressa told CNN Thursday, after news of the charges broke.

Rappler has been hit by a string of government efforts to shut it down since the site took a critical tone on Duterte, in particular his internationally condemned drug war that has killed thousands.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo issued the statement after he dismissed allegations the administration was engaged in the political persecution of Ressa amid reports of her imminent arrest. But worldwide and local rights groups have estimated a higher figure of about 12,000 deaths.

Those killed have included children and innocents, as well as ordinary drug users and criminals executed extrajudicially. If I want to joke, I will joke. If... "Freedom of expression can not help you if you have done something wrong". He later retracted the statement, saying he was joking.

More news: Newcastle owner wants club sold before January window

The Philippine president is widely-known for his harshly negative attitude towards drugs and the controversial "war on drugs" that he is waging in the country. Ressa spoke to FRONTLINE for The Facebook Dilemma, describing how the platform was used to attack Duterte's critics. Sometimes you say I'm a misogynist when I joke but that's my style.

Mr Duterte's administration has denied the President's involvement in the case, or that it is targeting Rappler for its coverage.

Ressa was overseas when the charges against Rappler were first announced, but she vowed to return to the Philippines and fight them, even if that meant doing so from a prison cell.

The warrant against Ressa, a veteran journalist who formerly worked for Cable News Network (CNN), came after the government accused Rappler of violating the country's tax code when the company allegedly misrepresented its tax returns when it issued Philippine Depository Receipts (PDR) for some of its former US -based investors. "But the more they do things like this, these ridiculous things, the more we're going to continue to do investigative reporting".