CA approves Ressa plea to receive alma mater award in US

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 17 2022 05:33 PM | Updated as of Feb 17 2022 06:07 PM

Rappler CEO Maria Ressa arrives at the Pasig Regional Trial Court for arraignment in connection with tax evasion charges filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against her and Rappler Holdings Incorporated on July 22, 2020. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News/File
Rappler CEO Maria Ressa arrives at the Pasig Regional Trial Court for arraignment in connection with tax evasion charges filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against her and Rappler Holdings Incorporated on July 22, 2020. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA (UPDATED)— The Court of Appeals on Thursday finally granted Rappler CEO Maria Ressa's urgent plea to leave the country to receive a prestigious award in New Jersey, US.

Ressa earlier tweeted that Thursday night was the last chance for her to leave to receive the 2022 Woodrow Wilson Award at Princeton University in a ceremony on Saturday (Manila time).

She was originally set to fly to New Jersey on Feb. 16 but the CA gave the Office of the Solicitor General five days to comment on the motion to travel. Ressa filed a motion for reconsideration, which prompted a virtual hearing this afternoon.

In granting Ressa’s motion to travel, CA said she was able to prove that “her physical presence is necessary” and technological applications could not be used. It also cited her previous travels and consistent compliance to prove she is not a flight risk.

During the hearing, OSG said it has yet to receive a copy of Ressa’s urgent motion to travel but it did receive the urgent motion for reconsideration. 

CA said OSG was effectively notified of the motion to travel and it was given opportunity to be heard through today’s hearing.

OSG called attention to Ressa’s tweets which allegedly implied CA failed to immediately act on her motion. CA said it will be dealt with upon proper motion.

CA also reminded Ressa to file her motions early, noting she received the invitation in November but filed only on Feb 2.

Ressa’s lawyer, Ted Te, confirmed she will leave on Thursday night.

“Yes, the CA granted her MFR and her motion to travel today. She will leave tonight and return on the 22nd.”

The Woodrow Wilson Award is the highest award given by Princeton University to undergraduate alumni.

The veteran journalist last year won the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov in recognition for their fight for freedom of expression.

Ressa, 58, is a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his government's policies.

She is on bail pending an appeal against a conviction in a cyber libel case, for which she faces up to six years in prison. It is one of seven cases she is fighting after two cyber libel suits were dismissed earlier this year.

—Reports from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News; and Reuters

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