Court of Appeals affirms decision denying Ressa plea to travel to US

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 27 2020 12:50 PM

Rappler CEO and journalist Maria Ressa speaks during a press conference after receiving a guilty verdict on cyber libel by the Manila Regional Trial Court on June 15, 2020. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - The Court of Appeals has affirmed its decision to deny journalist Maria Ressa's plea to travel to the United States to receive an award and attend the screening of a documentary about her.

Ressa, who heads news website Rappler, earlier sought travel permission from the court, where she has a pending appeal to her cyber libel conviction.

In a resolution dated Aug. 20 made public Thursday, the court's Special 14th Division said Ressa "still failed to prove" that her intended travel to the US from Aug. 23 to Sep. 9 and her presence in the events were necessary and urgent.

"To restate, while the Constitution guarantees the freedom of movement, it also recognized that such liberty is not an absolute right. In Ressa’s case, she does not have an unrestricted right to travel because she had previously posted bail for her temporary liberty pending appeal of her conviction for cyber libel," the court said.

Ressa had cited a resolution of the Court of Tax Appeals dated Aug. 6 that allowed her to travel abroad while her criminal cases remained pending.

The court, however, said the resolution was limited to her tax evasion cases and "does not cover her conviction for cyber libel, which requires the exercise of greater caution in allowing Ressa from leaving the Philippines."

Ressa and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. were found guilty of cyber libel by a Manila court on June 15 over a 2012 article that linked a businessman to alleged illegal activities. They remain out on bail. 

-- With a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News