Manila, Jan 18 (EFE).- The Philippines’ Court of Tax Appeal on Wednesday acquitted journalist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa and her news website Rappler of four cases of tax evasion, which she denounced as being politically motivated.
The charged stemmed from during the tenure of former president Rodrigo Duterte, whose deadly war on drugs was scrutinized by Ressa and her outlet.
“Today facts win, truth wins, justice wins,” an emotional Ressa told reporters outside the court. “These charges, as you know, were politically motivated, they were incredible to us – a brazen abuse of power and meant to stop journalists from doing their jobs.”
“These cases are where capital markets, where rule of law, where press freedom meet. So this acquittal (…) is not just for Rappler – it is for every Filipino who has ever been unjustly accused.”
Ressa and Rappler were critical of Duterte and his policies such as the war on drugs that has taken the lives of thousands of people, and the journalist has always maintained that the numerous court cases she faces are part of a pattern of political persecution and harassment.
There are still three active court cases pending – one tax case and two appeals involving Ressa’s conviction for cyber-libel and the ordered shutdown of Rappler over foreign media ownership laws.
Ressa was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2021 (with Russian journalist Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov) for exposing abuse of power and the use of violence and growing authoritarianism in the Philippines, her attention to Duterte’s war on drugs, and combating fake news and misinformation. EFE