MANILA, Philippines – Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, December 5, expressed concern on Twitter for Rappler CEO Maria Ressa following 5 separate tax cases filed recently by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Rappler Holdings Corporation and Ressa.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland tweeted support and concern, saying, "Canada remains deeply concerned for the security and safety of @mariaressa in the #Philippines. The harassment and intimidation of journalists have no place in democracy. We call for due process to be respected and stand with all journalists working in defence of the truth."
Canada remains deeply concerned for the security and safety of @mariaressa in the #Philippines. The harassment and intimidation of journalists have no place in democracy. We call for due process to be respected and stand with all journalists working in defence of the truth. — Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) December 4, 2018
Concern for the security and safety of journalists in the Philippines is not unwarranted. (READ: UN expert urges Philippines to drop charges vs Rappler, Ressa)
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) – which presented the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award to Ressa in November – also reported last month that the Philippines ranked 5th among countries where the murders of journalists were left unprosecuted.
The Philippines has been on this impunity list for 11 years, currently with 40 unsolved cases out of a population of 104.9 million.
Ressa was scheduled to be arraigned Friday, December 7, after being charged at the Pasig RTC with violation of Section 255 of the tax code – that Rappler supposedly failed to supply correct information in their Value Added Tax (VAT) return for the 2nd quarter of tax year 2015.
The Canadian government on Friday sent Ryan Webb, second secretary of the Canadian Embassy in the Philippines, to observe Ressa's arraignment.
Rappler and Ressa have filed a motion to quash, asking the court to void the charges if not to remand investigation to the Department of Justice (DOJ) – or at least suspend proceedings while they avail of appeal remedies. – Rappler.com