VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Online post with Rappler chief saying tax evasion is OK a HOAX

An altered photo going around social media with a caption that claims Rappler CEO Maria Ressa said it is okay to not pay taxes because the Catholic Church does not, is fabricated.

A netizen shared the manipulated image to the Facebook group REAL PHILIPPINE HISTORY on Dec. 18. Tracing the original source of the photo through reverse image searching led to an April 2017 video interview with Ressa by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) about journalism and technology.

In the video, which had embedded subtitles, Ressa said:

“If you look at anything that’s been successful, whether it’s looking at financial models or trying to prevent fake financials, trying to prevent those things from happening. It has always been the most successful ones included machines…”

Source: UNESCO, Is journalism in crisis? Interview with Rappler’s Executive Editor, Maria Ressa, April 4, 2017, watch from 0:49 to 1:06

The altered image is a screengrab of the footage at the 58-second mark, when Ressa said the quote above. The original subtitles appear to have been photoshopped and replaced with the grammatically incorrect text that read, “There’s nothing wrong for not paying our taxes, even Catholic Church don’t pay taxes”.

Above: Screengrab from UNESCO's Youtube Channel; Below: Netizen’s post on REAL HISTORY PHILIPPINES

The fake post, which has been shared over 1,200 times, was published a week after Ressa was hailed as one of TIME Magazine’s 2018 'Person of the Year'.

Ressa and her company Rappler Holdings Corp. are facing tax evasion charges filed by the Department of Justice in late November.

(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)


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