Rappler’s Maria Ressa Acquitted Of Tax Evasion Charges

“Today, facts win, truth wins, justice wins,” says Maria Ressa

On January 18, 2023, Court of Tax Appeals acquitted Nobel Laureate Maria Ressa and Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC) of four counts of tax evasion.

Maria Ressa is the founder, CEO, and executive editor of Rappler.

The Tax Court’s First Division voted in favor of acquittal for “failure of the prosecution to prove the guilt beyond reasonable doubt.” The decision came from three counts of willful failure to supply the correct information under Section 255 of the National Internal Revenue Code and one count of tax evasion under Section 254.

The 80-page decision was signed by Associate Justices Catherine Manahan, Jean Marie Bacorro-Villena, and Marian Ivy Reyes-Fajardo. Presiding Justice Roman del Rosario certified the decision but inhibited from the proceedings.

The Department of Justice initiated the case in 2018. This was in response to Ressa and Rappler’s refusal to declare a profit of P162.41 million from the issue of Philippine Depositary Receipts in 2015.

Ressa and Rappler refuted the allegations. They claimed the transactions employed proper financial processes and emphasized that the transactions didn’t result in taxable income.

“Today, facts win, truth wins, justice wins,” says Ressa as she celebrates the verdict. She also adds that her acquittal is not just for Rappler, “but for every Filipino who has ever been unjustly accused.”

The Nobel Committee awarded Ressa the 2021 Peace Prize. This was for her courageous battle for independent journalism and freedom of expression.

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