Maria Ressa sees ‘lifting of fear’ under Marcos admin, says acquittal ‘good sign’ for biz community

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 12) — Veteran journalist Maria Ressa, who has been critical of the Duterte administration, said there is a “lifting of fear” under the leadership of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., with the final tax evasion case filed against her and Rappler now dismissed.

“I think we've seen the transition from the last administration to this administration is the lifting of fear, right? Do you guys agree with me? We feel it in the public. We feel even, I supposed, among the cases [of] the journalists,” she said Tuesday.

“It's certainly a very interesting time for the Philippines. I hope it isn’t the calm before the storm,” the Nobel Peace Prize winner said.

Ressa’s remarks came after a Pasig court acquitted them from their fifth and final tax violation charge. All charges were all filed during the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

READ: Maria Ressa, Rappler acquitted of last tax evasion case

The four other cases were junked by the Court of Tax Appeals in January.

Ressa said that the Pasig court’s decision “strengthens our resolve to continue with the justice system, to submit ourselves to the court despite the political harassment, despite the attacks on press freedom—it shows that the court system works.”

The journalist also said that their acquittal is “a good sign” for the business community, especially now that economic managers seek to beef up the investment climate in the country.

“We have to really look at the impact on business because tax evasion charges threaten the way of doing business in the Philippines. And this is the cornerstone of the Marcos administration, to bring the economy back up and to bring international investors in. This is a good sign,” she added.

Ressa was hopeful that the remaining charges against them would subsequently be dismissed.

“As we said, even standing alone without these tax cases, the cyberlibel case, especially the revocation case, which spells the life or the death of Rappler, are really baseless,” she added.