MANILA: The journalist who leads a news site that has battled Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte paid a cash bail on a tax fraud charge she says is an effort to intimidate the publication.
Maria Ressa’s Rappler has been hit by a string of government efforts to shut it down since the site took a critical tone on Duterte, in particular his internationally condemned drug war that has killed thousands.
Ressa surrendered to a Manila court yesterday, posted the equivalent of US$1,100 (RM4,596) and was ordered to return on Friday for arraignment on charges that Rappler provided false information to tax authorities.
“They (the charges) are politically motivated and ... they are manufactured,” she told journalists outside court.
“Rappler pays the right taxes.”
Campaigners condemned the charge, which is one of several tax fraud cases the government filed against Rappler and Ressa last week while she was out of the country.
The charges are “part of the Duterte administration’s campaign to harass, threaten and intimidate critics,” said Human Rights Watch Philippines researcher Carlos Conde.
“The attacks on Rappler are consistent with the way the Duterte administration has treated other ‘drug war’ critics,” he said.
Duterte bristles at criticism of his signature campaign to rid the nation of drugs, which police say has killed nearly 5,000 alleged dealers and users who resisted arrest. — AFP