CA reso allows Maria Ressa to travel to US


THE Court of Appeals has denied the bid of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to block Rappler CEO and Nobel Laureate Maria Ressa’s travel to the US from October 31 to December 2, 2021.

In a six-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Geraldine Fiel-Macaraig, the CA’s Eight Division affirmed its decision issued on October 18, 2021, which granted Ressa’s motion to travel to the US to participate as a joint Hauser Leader and Visiting Shorenstein Center’s Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School in Boston.

The CA also allowed Ressa to visit and celebrate Thanksgiving with her parents in Florida.

In the said ruling, the CA held that Ressa was able to prove that her travel was necessary and urgent and that she is not a flight risk.

Likewise, the appellate court pointed out that her visit to her parents in Florida is justified for humanitarian reasons.

The CA, which is hearing Ressa and former Rappler researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr.’s appeal of their cyber libel convictions, had previously denied her requests to travel abroad.

“In sum, the Office of the Solicitor General failed to present compelling reasons to warrant a reconsideration of the October 18, 2021 Resolution, thus, the granting of Ressa’s fifth urgent motion to travel abroad stands,” the CA said.

“Nevertheless, the approval is limited to Ressa’s appeal before this Court…and the grant or denial is similar to motions before the other courts where she faces criminal prosecution is outside this Court’s jurisdiction,” it added.

In opposing Ressa’s plea to travel abroad, the OSG noted that the petitioner failed to present any compelling evidence to prove that her intended travel is necessary and urgent.

It noted that the Rappler head was merely invited, and her non-participation in the program would not cause irreparable damage to any party.

As regards to Ressa’s visit to her parents, the OSG argued that Ressa could effectively use available online and technological applications.

Likewise, the OSG warned the CA that Ressa is a flight risk considering her dual citizenship, her prior conviction and statements undermining the capability of the justice system to dispense impartial justice.

But the CA held that Ressa was able to prove the necessity and urgency of her intended travel; through the invitation letter she submitted showing that her actual attendance is needed since it will be conducted physically.

“We cannot sustain the Office of the Solicitor General’s opposition grounded on Ressa’s dual citizenship and alleged lack of respect for the Philippine judicial system because the same is speculative as of now,” the CA pointed out.

Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Elihu Ybañez and Carlito Calpatura.

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