Rappler, Ressa seek dismissal of P70-million tax cases

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 13 2019 07:30 PM

MANILA - Rappler Holdings Corp. and its CEO Maria Ressa have sought the dismissal of their cases involving more than P70 million in alleged tax deficiencies pending before the Court of Tax Appeals.

In a motion for leave to file and admit demurrer filed Nov. 8, Rappler and Ressa said the 4 cases, consolidated by the court into 1 case, should be dismissed due to gross insufficiency of prosecution evidence to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt.

The cases involve alleged tax deficiencies amounting to P13.082 million, P48.723 million and P8.422 million, or a total of P70.227 million in 2015 when Rappler sold Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) to NBM Rappler L.P. and Omidyar Network Fund LLC.

Rappler has denied the allegation that the company is a dealer in securities, a matter which the court had earlier said can be delved into during trial proper.

“There is no evidence that RHC and Maria Ressa performed a course of action that would be considered unlawful. In the first place, there is nothing illegal per se for a holding company to issue PDRs,” Rappler said in their motion.

Rappler, which runs a news website known for its critical reporting on the administration, emphasized that the prosecution failed to establish that they are a dealer in securities

“Based solely on the Prosecution's failure to establish an obligation to pay tax, the criminal cases against RHC and Maria Ressa should be dismissed,” Rappler said.

Rappler and Ressa are also facing other cases, including cyber libel. The Securities and Exchange Commission canceled its certificate of incorporation in January 2018 for allegedly violating the constitutional restriction on foreign ownership of mass media.