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  • Rappler's chief executive officer and journalist Maria Ressa arriving in Manila Airport.

    Rappler's chief executive officer and journalist Maria Ressa arriving in Manila Airport. | Photo: Reuters

Published 2 December 2018

Maria Ressa said the charges made her feel "vulnerable" but told reporters she will post bail and fight the five cases filed against her and news organization, Rappler.

Filipino journalist and chief executive officer of online news site Rappler, Maria Ressa, returned to the Philippines on Sunday proclaiming her innocence and told reporters an arrest warrant has been issued against her for alleged tax evasion.

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"Our lawyers have verified a warrant of arrest was issued and that's part of the reason that, you know, they've come here," said Ressa to reporters.

"This is a new landscape for me. It is easier to navigate a conflict zone, a war zone, than it is to navigate the social media world and the legal weaponization, the weaponization of laws in our country, but ... we'll challenge it," added Ressa.

She is a frequent critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, questioning the accuracy of his public statements and scrutinizing his war on drugs and his foreign policy decisions.

The Philippine justice ministry indicted Rappler at a lower court last week for violation of the country's tax laws after it did not declare gains made in its 2015 tax returns.

"I'm going to hold my government accountable for publicly calling me a criminal," said Ressa, insisting she was not a tax evader.

"I overpay my taxes. I've worked in many different countries, at one point I was paying taxes in three different countries. Obviously, the company I run would be paying the right taxes, except of course if the government reclassifies us as a stock brokerage agency instead of a newsgroup. I'll face these charges in court. I have no doubt that we'll win in the long term."

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