'We'll fight them in court' | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 07, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, December 07, 2018

'We'll fight them in court'

Says Philippine journo in govt showdown

Threatened with prison and closure of the news site she co-founded, Philippine journalist Maria Ressa says there is one clear response to the government onslaught she faces: fight back.

The site, Rappler, has taken a critical stand on President Rodrigo Duterte's deadly anti-drug crackdown and now finds itself the target of grinding, unrelenting attacks from the authorities.

Ressa turned herself in this week to face one tax evasion charge, but could still face arrest on four other counts that she insists were crafted to bring the site to heel.

"I have nothing to hide. We have done nothing wrong. I'm willing to challenge the government and I will hold them accountable," she told AFP at Rappler's Manila headquarters.

"I'm not afraid of what it's (the government) doing. In fact, I call them on these lies. We'll fight them in court," she added of the charge that carries up to 10 years behind bars.

She is due to be arraigned today on the first case, which stems from allegations Rappler and Ressa did not pay taxes on 2015 bond sales that netted $3 million.

The investments are at the heart of a case that led the Philippines' corporate watchdog to void the news site's license in January. That case is still pending.

"They want to intimidate. They want to harass," she said. "The end goal of all that is to (force us to) pipe down. Stop doing the stories."

The government said this week Duterte had no hand in the charges, saying "we will never interfere with the function of the judiciary."

Rappler has been among a clutch of Philippine news outlets that have questioned the methods of the president's signature crackdown, which police say has killed nearly 5,000 alleged dealers and addicts since 2016.

Rights campaigners say the true toll is triple that and could amount to crimes against humanity.

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