Court of Tax Appeals denies MR of gov't on Maria Ressa acquittal

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 31 2023 06:53 PM

Rappler CEO Maria Ressa. File/George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File
Rappler CEO Maria Ressa. File/George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Court of Tax Appeals has denied the motion for reconsideration filed by plaintiff Republic of the Philippines on the acquittal of Rappler Holdings Corporation and its Chief Executive Officer Maria Ressa over 4 tax cases.

In a resolution promulgated on May 18, 2023, the CTA said there is no compelling reason for it to reverse or modify its decision handed down last January 18, 2023.

“Wherefore, in view of the foregoing premises, the Motion for Reconsideration filed by plaintiff on February 2, 2023 is denied for lack of merit,” the court said in the resolution penned by Associate Justice Catherine Manahan, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Jean Marie Bacorro-Villena and Marian Ivy Reyes-Fajardo.

The court noted in the resolution that plaintiff argued in its appeal that Rappler, as a dealer in securities, filed its annual income tax return and quarterly value added tax returns for taxable year 2015 indicating zero declarations of income and sales in spite of the income it derived from the purchase and re-sale of securities.

The supposed income came from the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts to Omidyar Network which were considered as securities sold three times by RHC to different holders.

Rappler however countered that when it issued PDRs, it did not sell any shares and neither were the holders classified as customers who purchased shares.
“The court it its eighty-one paged decision dated January 18, 2023, had comprehensively reviewed, analyzed and appreciated all of the said evidence in coming up with the decision to acquit the accused, hence it is safe to assume that the trial conducted is not a sham nor was there a mistrial that would render the judgment void,” the court said.

The court also reiterated that no civil liability may be imposed on Rappler as it did not find the company liable for deficiency taxes, contrary to the appeal of the plaintiff that the company should still be obligated to pay the alleged tax deficiencies.

“To reiterate, the accused was found not to be guilty of the acts and omissions charged,” the court said.