Harassment? PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 05 December 2018 13:21

Looking In

Thus cried Maria Ressa of the internet online news media outfit, Rappler. She was charged by the BIR for tax evasion relative to her failure to report and remit their total value added tax. This is in addition to the charges filed against her at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) questioning the percentage of ownership of Rappler by an American Firm which runs counter with our corporate laws.

Pardon my layman’s understanding of suits or cases filed against someone, but the validity of cases will depend on whether there exists any basis for it to withstand judicial scrutiny. Contrary to Ressa’s accusation that these cases were filed upon the instructions of President Rodrigo Duterte because of their continuous harsh criticisms against him and his manner of running the government. Because of this, Rappler’s news reporter assigned to Malacañang, Pia Ranada, was banned from entering the presidential palace to gather news. The reason was: she was inventing and making false news against President Duterte and his men. Perhaps this was the very reason why Ressa accuses President Duterte of directing the BIR to file cases against her for tax evasion.

But the question is: Is the filing of this case by the BIR a form of harassment? Taxes are the “lifeblood” of a country. Its collection is mandatory. This is one obligation that every Filipino should comply and totally support to enable the government to implement projects for the general welfare of all. As I see it, the BIR won’t file this case against Maria Ressa if there exists no basis for its filing. If there exists no basis, then we can call it as a form of harassment, merely filed to silence the Rappler from criticizing the president and his administration. But the record shows otherwise. Ressa has indeed violated the internal revenue laws and has to be punished, since these violations started way back in 2015.

The problem with her is: she was allowed by the past administration of PNoy to do this without being punished or even warned. She became used to it because she was treated generously by serving the past president as one of his administration’s leading online news telecaster and supporter.

But many observers are one in their view that Maria Ressa is not the media and the media is not Maria Ressa. Her firm is merely disseminating news online compared to the numerous big-time radio and television networks. This makes me further ask: who is Maria Ressa to allow her reporters to malign and create false news against President Duterte without being censured?

Now that a case for tax evasion has been filed against her, she now cries to high heavens that she is being harassed by President Duterte? Why, is she of a special kind who is allowed to violate internal revenue laws with impunity?

Maria Ressa should better realize that payment of taxes is mandatory and a duty of every Filipino. There is no special treatment when it comes to complying with this obligation. Even the lowly Filipino pays his/her taxes to avoid penalty and imprisonment.

In the US, compliance to the payment of taxes is the foremost obligation required of every American citizen. Even the famous and widely known gangster, Al Capone, was imprisoned not because of his notorious deeds but because of not paying his tax.

Thus Ressa should stop accusing President Duterte of harassment because of the filing of this case against her. Such accusation is totally erroneous and misleading. In making such accusation, she has to be “clean” and morally upright. A law violator should never accuse anybody of wrongdoing, especially when it is totally baseless and self-serving.

This reminds me of the “mouthpieces” of Mayor Beng Salazar at TV 11. They accuse Congressman Celso Lobregat by calling him names like “dictator”, “traitor”, and what have you. But these persons have no moral standing to say these. One of them is convicted of estafa—a crime involving moral turpitude that was affirmed by the Supreme Court and for which the convict sought for its consideration. Another is being tried for graft and corruption for many shenanigans he committed when he was still a barangay chief. The rest of them are known for using their stature as a mediaman to make money. I’m at a lost why the owners of TV 11 would allow these people to appear in their television network and make vicious and disparaging comments against the political oppositors of Mayor Beng Salazar?

Very interesting! Got it. Thanks!