The Department of Justice has sustained its earlier resolution recommending the indictment of Rappler Holdings Corp. and its president Maria Ressa for tax evasion.
In a resolution, the DOJ junked the appeal of RHC and Ressa seeking to reverse its resolution that found probable cause to hold them liable for tax evasion for violating the National Internal Revenue Code.
A separate resolution also turned down a motion for reconsideration by RHC independent accountant Noel Baladiang.
In ruling against the motion for reconsideration of RHC and Ressa, the DOJ stressed the respondents failed to raise new issues that would warrant a reversal of their earlier ruling for filing of the case before the Tax and Pasig courts.
“Now, after judiciously going over the evidence anew together with the issues raised in the motions, we have found no sustainable ground to reverse, set aside, or modify the assailed resolution,” stated the DOJ resolution released on Wednesday.
Last March, the Bureau of Internal Revenue filed a complaint against Rappler and Ressa for violating the NIRC, particularly one count of Section 254 and three counts of Section 255, for willful attempt to evade or defeat tax and for deliberate failure to supply correct and accurate information.
Based on the complaint, RHC and Ressa failed to indicate in RHCs 2015 tax returns the total gain of almost P162.5 million, which was due to the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) to Washington DC-based NBM Rappler LP, a unit of North Base Media and Omidyar Network Find LLC.
The DOJ said both RHC and Ressa insisted that the company was mislabeled as a dealer in securities whose PDR transactions are claimed to have yielded ordinary business income that ought to have been reported in its tax returns.
“We are, however, standing by our conviction that in so far as the subject securities and the related transactional activities are concerned, movant RHC is deemed to have dealer status within the contemplation of the Tax Code,” the DOJ ruled.
Meanwhile, the DOJ said the motion for reconsideration of Baladiang failed to meet the required form.
“Certainly, we have reason to dismiss this motion outright for being unverified,” the DOJ said in a separate resolution.
Nonetheless, the DOJ said the contents of the motion are mere reiteration. “In fine, the motion simply failed to disclose any cogent reason to warrant movant’s desired reconsideration,” the DOJ said.