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What's the fuss about Tax Evasion? | Philippine News Agency


By Jun Ledesma

THE United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, David Kaye, has a litany of credentials which could account for his hubris in calling the attention of sovereign nations for what he suspects go beyond the norm and standard expected of civilized nations.

Kaye has become too swell headed that he had the temerity to order the Philippine government to drop the charges against Rappler boss Maria Ressa on what he claimed as a serious threat against independent and investigative journalism in the country.

Rapporteur Kaye is from California, USA and like Agnes Calamard, the Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial killing, the duo make up for the twin in the UN High Commission on Human Rights that dedicate themselves in demonizing the irrepressible Philippine Pres. Rodrigo Duterte. The duo cannot disengage from Ressa because they both believed the extrapolated statistics on the so-called extrajudicial killing conjured by Rappler which in turn picked the figures from Leila de Lima, the ex-CHR Chairman, ex-Justice Secretary and future ex-senator. In turn De Lima who is presently in detention for her self-confessed frailties believed the fairy tales of perjured witnesses.

Kaye is either playing possum or simply stonewalling the fundamental issue that Ressa and her retinue of writers are never repressed or oppressed. The fact that Ressa can rant and her writers can write with nary a consonant ordered deleted from their manuscripts eloquently argues against their claims that their freedom of expression are repressed or threatened.

Both Kaye and Ressa, however, are trying to veer away from the real issue surrounding the latter’s predicament. Ressa accepted foreign investments from Omidyar Network and issued Philippine Depository Receipts for these. This was in 2015. Moving forward to recent times the Securities and Exchange Commission, the members of which are still appointees of ex-Pres. Noynoy Aquino, reported that the social media outfit violated the rule that media should be 100% Filipino-owned. Omidyar, whose notoriety is a center page in the ouster of pro-Russia Ukraine President, later donated its PDRs to the staff of Rappler in an attempt to prove that it is not exercising editorial intervention on the outfit. For her part, Ressa declared that Rappler is not a media outfit. And therein lies the irony.

In the meantime, Rappler’s ace reporter Pia Ranada, would impute wrongdoings on then SAP Bong Go’s cursory note endorsing the document that pertains to the purchase of Navy frigates for appropriate attention. Pia had hounded Go despite oral manifestation of the naval officials that the Presidential Assistant has nothing to do whatsoever with the frigate deal. She pushed her luck too far leading to her ban in participating in the President’s meeting with the press in Malacanang.

It was actually an offshoot not only about Pia’s intransigence on the frigate issue but also on the heels of the SEC decision revoking Rappler’s license to operate for violating the constitutional issue of 100% ownership of Philippine media establishments. Her privilege to attend press conferences in the palace was suspended although if I remember it right, the legal opinion emanating from Malacanang was open to Pia’s participating in presscons provided she represents other media organization.

The last that I heard of her was that she was quarreling with Malacanang security detail. It was a clever move to prove she is being repressed, oppressed and harassed since the scene was fully recorded on video. Meanwhile, across the Pacific Ocean, US White House banned Jim Acosta of CNN for being rude.

But what the hell is the fuss over Ressa, Pia and for that matter Rappler plaint that their freedom of expression is curtailed. The issue here is TAX EVASION. Kaye, Callamard and Ressa very well know that in the United States evading taxes can send you to jail, pay a huge penalty or both.

Remember Al Capone, the notorious leader of gangsters in Chicago? He made billions from all gangsterism and murder but eluded conviction. But what sent him to jail and ultimately landing in Alcatraz was his TAX EVASION case. All the while he thought that money he amassed from illegal source is not subject to tax. Well, he is dead wrong. In the US of A, the Internal Revenue Service will hound you all the way to your grave. So why should it be wrong for the Bureau of Internal Revenue of the Philippines to collect tax due from Ressa? Why should Kaye order the Philippine government to drop the case of tax evasion on Ressa so that she can continue exercising her freedom of expression? Something is terribly wrong here and I think Rapporteur Kaye is laughing at his own childish though arrogant impertinence.

About the Columnist

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Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.