March 01, 2019 at 01:05 am
Rey E. Requejo
The Department of Justice has been asked to revoke the dual citizenship of Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa.
An online petition from the California-based website www.change.org, which gathered 15,000 signatures, urged the department to invalidate the Philippine citizenship granted by the government to the journalist.
This means Ressa will have to contend with not only the tax evasion and cyber libel cases, but also the possibility of losing her Philippine citizenship.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he would look into the petition, noting that a dual citizenship may be revoked under the law.
“Subject to further study, any grant of dual citizenship is revocable on grounds specified by our laws such as fraud and misrepresentation,” Guevarra said.
Ressa is a citizen of the United States and the Philippines.
The petition was initiated by Rene Astudillo, himself a dual citizen of the US and the Philippines, last Sunday and it has gathered some 15,000 signatures from netizens.
The petition accuses Ressa of violating the conditions of her dual citizenship by violating laws in the country as alleged in the criminal cases against her.
“When Ressa took her oath of allegiance as part of the dual citizenship process, she swore to support and defend the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, obey the laws and legal orders promulgated by the duly constituted authorities of the Philippines and to recognize and accept the supreme authority of the Philippines by maintaining true faith and allegiance thereto,” read the petition.
The petition further alleged that Ressa “has been engaged in efforts to destabilize the Philippine government, and by extension, the Filipino people, claiming that her press freedom is being suppressed and that she is a victim of political harassment.
“Ressa is facing legal troubles because of alleged violation of the Constitution, tax evasion, and the Cyber Libel law which are all in defiance of her oath of allegiance as a dual citizen.”
The petitioner asked the department to order the Bureau of Immigration, an attached agency, “to conduct a formal review of Ms. Ressa’s activities which violate this oath.
“If warranted, we urge that her dual citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 be revoked.”