Philippines media agency faces corruption charges

Manila (Philippines): The Philippines government here on Sunday charged an investigative news site with corruption charges.

Quoting sources, CNN reported that the Justice Department of the country had ‘found probable cause’ to indict the news site named Rappler and its CEO and executive editor, Maria Ressa, over alleged charges of tax evasion.

According to reports, Rappler along with its CEO Ressa failed to file tax returns over a three million USD investment made by the Omidyar Network, a fund created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, in 2015.

However, the media agency has declared the move as an attempt to curb press freedom in the Southeast Asian country, thereby silencing journalists as well as their independent news coverage.

In a statement to the New York Times, the news site denied the corruption allegations, calling it to be a ‘clear form of continuing intimidation and harassment’ of the journalists.
Taking a step ahead, Rappler further told CNN, “We are not at all surprised by the decision, considering how the Duterte administration has been treating Rappler for its independent and fearless reporting.”

Earlier this week, Maria Ressa, a former CNN Bureau Chief, was awarded the Knight International Journalism Award from the International Committee for Journalists (ICJ) in the United States.

Ressa was lauded for her strong take on the drug policy or ‘war on drugs’ undertaken by the Philippines government, led by President Duterte, and has been condemned for encouraging thousands of extrajudicial killings by various international organisations and human rights groups.