Nagmamadali?! Rappler lawyer cries violation of due process
Francis Ed. Lim, the abogado of news website Rappler, has complained about the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) filing of tax evasion charges against Rappler Holdings Corp. and its president Maria Ressa without resolving their pending appeals first.
Lim, a senior partner of Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALAW), said in a statement that one of the cases was even filed before the respondents received a copy of the DOJ resolution finding probable cause to order their indictment.
“There was undue haste in filing the cases in court as the period for asking the DOJ to reconsider its decision has not yet expired,” Lim said.
“This is a right granted to the respondents by the DOJ rules… This is a patent violation of our clients’ constitutional right to due process,” he added.
Ressa, meanwhile, again portrayed her criminal case as an issue of press freedom.
“These cases are part of government’s desperate efforts to harass and silence independent media such as Rappler,” Ressa said. “We continue to tell the story of the nation. These cases will not intimidate nor distract us from holding public officials to account through our stories.”
DOJ prosecutors charged RHC and Ressa before the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) with three counts each of failure to supply correct information in the 2015 income tax return (ITR) and the value-added tax returns (VATR) for the third and fourth quarters of the said year.
RHC and Ressa were also indicted before the same court for one count of willful attempt to evade tax for “deliberately and calculatedly not declaring” a profit of P162.41 million from the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs).
In the Pasig City Regional Trial Court (RTC), RHC and Ressa also stood accused for one count of failure to supply correct information in the VATR for the second quarter of 2015.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), in its complaint before the DOJ, said the nondeclaration of the said profit defrauded the government of P48.72-million income taxes and P17.14-million value added taxes.