A PHILIPPINE journalist critical of President Rodrigo R. Duterte took the witness stand for the first time on Thursday to answer tax evasion charges that she said were politically motivated.
Maria Ressa, founder of news website Rappler, also accused the government of harassment.
“You don’t get 10 arrest warrants in less than two years if it isn’t harassment,” she told a news briefing after the court hearing.
Ms. Ressa said she would not let the government intimidate her. “I will argue the case because I know my right.”
A Philippine trial court last year convicted her and former researcher Reynaldo Santos, Jr. for violating a law against cyber-libel.
Critics view the verdict, which could lead to a jail term of up to six years, as a major setback for democratic rights in the country.
Global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has said the twin convictions showed the Philippine justice system’s lack of independence from the Executive branch.
Ms. Ressa told reporters she would not settle her tax cases because Rapper had “paid appropriate taxes.”
Rappler, which Mr. Duterte has called a “fake news outlet,” had also appealed an order by the Securities and Exchange Commission to close its operations for violating foreign equity restrictions in mass media. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago