Maria Ressa arraignment set for P70 million tax evasion raps
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - March 26, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) has set the arraignment of Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa on P70.228-million tax liabilities to the government despite her pending petition for review before the Department of Justice (DOJ).

In a resolution promulgated on March 21 but released to reporters only yesterday, the tax court’s First Division scheduled Ressa’s arraignment on April 3.

The CTA also set a pre-trial proceeding on the same date to allow the defense and  prosecution panels to submit their final lists of witnesses and documentary exhibits that they intend to present during the trial proper.

Prior to the arraignment, the First Division scheduled a preliminary conference on March 27.     

The tax court sided with the prosecution’s argument that under Section 11 (c) Rule 116 of the Revised Rules of Court, the deferment of Ressa’s arraignment should not exceed 60 days after filing the petition for review.

The CTA noted that Ressa filed her petition for review before the DOJ on Jan. 30.

The CTA had deferred Ressa’s arraignment as well as the pre-trial and preliminary conferences last February.

 Filed by the DOJ in November last year, the cases involve three counts of violation of Section 255 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) over Rappler’s alleged failure to supply correct information in its value-added tax returns and income tax return for 2015.

Ressa and Rappler Holdings Corp. (RHC) were also charged with one count of violation of Section 245 of the NIRC over their alleged attempt to evade payment of taxes in 2015 from the sale of Philippine depositary receipts to NBM Rappler LP and Omidyar Network Fund LLC.

The DOJ said Ressa and Rappler deprived the government of P70.228 million in liabilities exclusive of surcharges and interests.

The RHC is the holding company of Rappler Inc.,which owns the online news outfit.       

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