By Genalyn Kabiling
Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa is entitled to the presumption of innocence and could avail of legal remedies amid a tax evasion complaint against her, Malacañang said Monday.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo issued the statement after he dismissed allegations the administration was engaged in the political persecution of Ressa amid reports of her imminent arrest.
“We have repeatedly said that we never and will never interfere with the function of the judiciary as well as the other branch. If the judiciary finds probable cause in information filed then, we have to respect the law on the matter,” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.
“Ms. Ressa is entitled to legal remedies under the law and she has her lawyers so I don’t think she has a problem with respect to losing her liberty because she’s precisely she’s going to post bail,” he added.
Ressa earlier revealed that an arrest warrant has been issued against her in connection with the tax evasion complaint filed by the government. She evaded arrest after posting before a Pasig City regional trial court Monday.
Panelo insisted that President Duterte was not behind the cases of Ressa, saying he has “too many obligations to fulfill.”
But the Palace official asserted that the government has a policy of prosecuting persons believed to have violated the country’s laws.
“How can they be (persecuted)? It’s a question of tax evasion. You violate tax laws and then you’ll be prosecuted,” he said.
“If you have a justifiable reason for so doing or you will introduce evidence to show that it’s not true then you will be acquitted. Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence and that includes everybody including Ms. Ressa,” he added.
He said the Palace’s position was “you violate the law and you have to account for it.”
“The Constitution also says every person charged with a crime is presumed innocent unless proven otherwise by competent evidence beyond reasonable doubt, proof. That has been the policy and will always be the policy of the Duterte administration,” he said.