CA rejects Ressa appeal on disallowed US trip pending raps

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MANILA – The Court of Appeals (CA) has denied a motion for reconsideration filed by Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa asking to reconsider its order disallowing her to travel abroad pending an appeal of her libel conviction before a Manila court.

“In view of the foregoing, Ressa still failed to prove that her intended travel to the United States of America and her physical presence in the events are necessary and urgent. To reiterate, videoconferencing may allow her to participate in the events without leaving the Philippines,” the appellate court’s Special 14th Division through Associate Justice Geraldine C. Fiel-Macaraig said in its resolution dated August 20 and released on Wednesday.

Ressa had asked the court to reconsider its seven-page resolution dated August 18, where the court has said that 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 in the decision.

“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, “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.

Before 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 by the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 and sentenced up to six years imprisonment. (PNA)

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