Rappler CEO Maria Ressa returns to Manila, confirms arrest warrant against her

PHOTO: Reuters

Rappler chief executive officer and executive editor Maria Ressa confirmed that an arrest warrant had already been issued against her.

"Our lawyers have verified. A warrant of arrest was issued. I'm ready to post bail. I will do what our lawyers advise," Ressa told reporters at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 as she arrived in Manila on Sunday.

She added: "It is easier to navigate a conflict zone, a war zone than it is to navigate the social media world and the legal weaponization of laws in our country. But we hold the line."

Ressa and Rappler face four tax evasion cases filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Three of the cases were filed before the Court of Tax Appeals and the other one was filed at the Pasig City Regional Trial Court.

Based on the complaint, Ressa and Rappler Holdings Corporation failed to indicate in the company's 2015 tax returns the total gain of almost P162.5 million, which was due to the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts to Washington DC-based NBM Rappler LP, a unit of North Base Media and Omidyar Network Find LLC.

Ressa had been mostly out of the country to receive several awards for Rappler including, including the 2018 Knight International Journalism award given in Washington, DC by the International Center for Journalists and the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award given in New York City by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Ressa reiterated that she legally raised money for Rappler, saying "I successfully and legally raised money to make an idea a reality."

"Even as the government filed these tax cases, they continue to send tax agents to our office looking for documentation to beef it up," she said.

Ressa also maintained that the cases have no basis: "We have multiple cases and we will continue to fight every one of these cases, each of these cases have no real basis."

"I'm personally under attack. Rappler as a company is under attack. I think we all know that the line has been moved," she added