CA turns down Ressa’s plea to travel to US

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MANILA – The Court of Appeals (CA) has turned down a plea by Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa to travel abroad pending an appeal of her libel conviction before a Manila court.

In a seven-page resolution dated August 18, the appellate court’s Special 14th Division through Associate Justice Geraldine C. Fiel-Macaraig said, while the lower courts had previously allowed her to leave the country, Ressa’s “subsequent conviction changes her situation”.

The CA also said Ressa “failed to show the necessity and urgency” of her request to travel to the United States from Aug. 23 to Sept. 19 this year. Associate Justices Danton Q. Bueser and Carlito B. Calpatura concurred.

“Other than her brief narration, she has not presented further evidence to warrant her physical presence at the theatrical release and panel discussions of the documentary ‘A Thousand Cuts’,” the CA said.

The appellate court also found “no sufficient evidence to justify” the intention of the co-founder of Rappler to personally receive an award.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), the CA said, also successfully demonstrated that Ressa’s intended travel is not necessary and urgent “because there are other ways for her to participate” in the US event.

The OSG earlier opposed Ressa’s request to travel abroad noting that she had “voluntarily agreed to restrict her right to travel after she had posted bail for her temporary liberty”. It added that “her conviction warrants stricter restriction against her privilege to travel abroad”.

Aside from her conviction, pending tax evasion charges, and a second cyber libel complaint as among the circumstances that prevent her to travel abroad, the OSG said Ressa’s views on the Philippine justice system make her a flight risk.

Prior to her conviction on the cyber libel complaint filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng, Ressa had been previously allowed by the Manila court to leave upon posting a PHP100,000 bond.

Ressa was subsequently found guilty along with former writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. on June 15, 2020, by the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 and sentenced up to six years imprisonment. She appealed the verdict. (PNA)

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