Maria Ressa

Court allows Maria Ressa to go to Oslo for Nobel prize

Lian Buan

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Court allows Maria Ressa to go to Oslo for Nobel prize
(3rd UPDATE) The Rappler CEO is allowed to stay in Oslo for five days
Court allows Maria Ressa to go to Oslo for Nobel prize

The Court of Appeals has allowed Rappler CEO Maria Ressa to go to Oslo, Norway, to personally accept her Nobel Peace Prize for 2021.

The CA’s Special Seventh Division issued a resolution Friday, December 3, granting Ressa’s motion to travel so she can make it in time for the ceremony on December 10.

Justices Geraldine Fiel Macaraig, Ruben Reynaldo Roxas, and Raymond Reynold Lauigan ruled that the travel for a Nobel Prize was “necessary and urgent,” a deviation from past rulings where Ressa was not allowed to travel abroad for journalism awards, a documentary screening, and a visit to her ailing mother.

“Under the circumstances, Ressa cannot just utilize any available technological application, and the necessity of her presence at the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony is reasonably explained. In fact, there is no option, for her to virtually receive the award, or through a representative,” said the resolution.

The only two times that Nobel laureates did not get to receive their prizes in person were in the years 2010, when China barred dissident Liu Xiaobo, and 1935, when the Nazis barred journalist Carl von Ossietzky from attending. 

Ressa, and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, were awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize in a nod to the role journalists play in an era of fake news that threatens democracies worldwide. Ressa is the first Filipino to win the Nobel Prize, and she and Muratov are only the second journalists to get the world’s highest prize.

The appellate court allowed Ressa to stay in Oslo for five days, from December 8 to December 13. Ressa had to get authorization due to her pending charges, and a cyberlibel conviction on appeal, all brought against her and Rappler during the Duterte administration.

The Duterte government, through Solicitor General Jose Calida had earnestly tried to block this travel, alleging that Ressa’s statements “against” the Philippine justice system make her a flight risk. Ressa has said “exile is not an option.”

The CA said Ressa is not a flight risk. “Any allegation that Ressa would be absconding is merely speculative at this moment,” said the CA.

To travel abroad, Ressa had to get authorization from four different courts: the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) for four counts of tax charges, the fifth tax charge before the Pasig Regional Trial Court (RTC), another Pasig RTC for the Securities and Exchange Commission case, and the CA handling the cyber libel appeal. The tax charges are on trial, and bailable offenses easily get travel authorities.

The CTA First Division issued its travel grant on Monday, December 6.

It’s the CA case – a conviction on appeal – that was the hardest to get. The first time Ressa was allowed to travel was after she won the Nobel Prize, for a series of lectures in Harvard. She arrived in the Philippines December 2 pursuant to the travel grant.

Ressa’s previous travel bond of P500,000 will cover this travel period. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.