Manila court allows Maria Ressa to travel abroad
MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Thursday allowed Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa to travel outside the country on certain days on March and April.
In a March 14 court order, the Manila RTC Branch 46 granted Ressa’s urgent motion to travel outside the country on March 15-29, April 2-14, and April 21-28, after finding that Ressa’s travels “will not deprive this Court of the power to exercise its jurisdiction over her person.”
Ressa is asking the court permission to travel abroad to attend the Newsgeist Asia Conference in Singapore and then San Francisco, USA for business from March 15 to March 29. She also sought permission to attend the International Journal Festival in Italy where she is scheduled to speak and another business trip in New York from April 2, to April 14 and another trip from April 21 to April 28 to attend the Inaugural Trial Watch Conference and Launch of Trial Watch.
The prosecution opposed Ressa’s request saying she is a US citizen who may opt not to return to the Philippines.
But the Court said the constitutional right to travel is part of liberty “which a citizen cannot be deprived of, without due process of law.
It noted that Ressa provided her travel itinerary including confirmed return tickets to the Philippines, also pointing out that Ressa’s position as Rappler’s chief executive officer “diminished the risk of flight.”
However, the court said Ressa’s travel itinerary should be limited to the places stated in the motion and that she should post a travel bond of P500,000 to the clerk of court of Manila to ensure her return to the country.
She should also give written advice to the court within 24 hours from her return to the country.
In light of this, the Manila Court has also reset the arraignment of Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa and former Rappler reporter Reynaldo Santos Jr. on their cyber libel case. /je
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