Rappler’s woes pile up 

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AFTER the incident with the Securities and Exchange Commission in January where the agency revoked the certificate of incorporation of Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holdings for violating the Constitution’s foreign equity restrictions in mass media and the rift between Malacañang and Rappler reporter Pia Ranada, Rappler is now facing another dilemma.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue filed a P134 million tax-evasion case against Rappler Holdings – which owns 98 percent of Rappler, Inc.The BIR claimed that Rappler Holdings failed to pay the income tax and value-added tax due from these huge earnings.

And if that’s not enough, the National Bureau of Investigation filed a cyber-libel complaint against the embattled news website. NBI Director Dante Gierran said the agency filed the complaint last Friday, March 2.

Rappler CEO Maria Ressa called the latest charges “ludicrous,” pointing out that the BIR itself had named Rappler one of its top 500 taxpayers. She also noted that she was “more than willing to fight” the tax case in the public space. On the cyber-libel issue, Ressa said that the complaint was “clearly connected to the SEC.”

Ressa’s stance of not backing down from these pressures is commendable, but if you look closely, these cases filed against Rappler are nothing more than the end-result of Rappler’s ‘misdemeanors’ that were let go by the past administration.

Rappler’s potency, if one can recall, was evident during the past administration, and in its five years of existence, Rappler has not published a single news article or opinion piece critical of the previous President.

But times have changed. Change has really come this day.

It doesn’t matter if Rappler is critical of the present administration or whether they use social media and the internet to weave stories that they are being oppressed because of the recent cases against them. They are still operating, aren’t they? It only goes to show that their freedom of expression and the freedom of the press that they abused for their own ends are still intact.

What Rappler needs to do right now is to come clean, and do what they preach.

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