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UN Special Rapporteur urges PHL gov't to drop charges vs. Rappler, Maria Ressa

The United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression has called on the Philippine government to drop charges against news website Rappler and its CEO Maria Ressa.

In a statement dated December 6, David Kaye claimed that the complaints against Ressa and her media outfit, which had been critical of the Duterte administration, were being utilized as "censorship" tool.

“In light of past measures taken against Rappler, I am concerned that the charges of tax evasion constitute an attempt to silence the news outlet’s independent reporting,” Kaye said.

“This is a serious threat against independent and investigative journalism in the Philippines, and will have implications beyond its borders," Kaye added.

Ressa is accused of violating the Tax Code for allegedly failing to declare "correct and accurate" information on quarterly sales receipts from the issuance and sale of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDR) worth P2.45 million.

This allegedly resulted in a value-added tax deficiency of P294,258.58, excluding surcharge and interest, to the detriment of the government.

The veteran journalist is currently out on bail. She is scheduled to be arraigned this Friday morning.  —Anna Felicia Bajo/KBK, GMA News