The Court of Appeals (CA) on Friday, Dec. 3, allowed Rappler Chief Executive Officer Maria A. Ressa to travel to Oslo, Norway from Dec. 8 to 13 to personally receive her Nobel Peace Prize for 2021.
It denied the opposition of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) which claimed that Ressa is a “flight risk.”
The CA is reviewing Ressa’s 2020 conviction on cybercrime. With the pendency of the review, Ressa had to ask the CA permission to travel abroad.
“Considering that Ressa has proved that her intended travel is necessary and urgent, and she is not a flight risk, there is no reason to deny the Urgent Motion to Travel Abroad,” the CA said in a resolution written by Associate Justice Geraldine C. Fiel Macaraig.
Associate Justices Ruben Reynaldo G. Roxas and Raymond Reynold R. Lauigan of the CA’s special seventh division concurred.
The CA resolution stated:
“The travel period shall be from Dec. 8, 2021 to Dec. 13, 2021, and only for the purpose of attending the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony in Oslo, Norway, and participating in the events specifically mentioned in the attached confirmation and invitation letter.
“Ressa should return to the Philippines from Boston, USA, on Dec. 2, 2021, and inform this Court within 24 hours from such return. (Ressa had earlier been allowed to travel to the US.)
“Subject to her compliance with the second condition above-mentioned, the previous cash bond in the amount of P500,000 under Official Receipt No.10074925 shall be applied as travel bond for purposes of her travel to Oslo, Norway on Dec. 8, 2021 until Dec. 13, 2021.
“Ressa shall advise this Court in writing of her return to the country within 24 hours from arrival on Dec. 13, 2021.”
The other Nobel Peace laureate is Russian journalist Dimitry Muratov.
Ressa replied to OSG’s opposition to her travel to Norway.
The reply, through lawyer Theodore Te, stated: “Ressa has sufficiently demonstrated the necessity and urgency of the travel sought, that she is not a flight risk, and that the Court’s Oct. 18, 2021 Resolution (while not automatically binding in this application) provides a basis for this Court to grant her application.”
It disagreed with OSG’s allegation that she issued various pronouncements criticizing her conviction that make her a flight risk. “This is not only without basis but also fundamentally dangerous,” the reply pointed out as it underscored that Ressa has the right to free speech and expression under Article III of the 1987 Constitution.
It stressed that receiving a Nobel Peace Prize is a one in a lifetime experience.
It also pointed out:
“The importance of the awarding ceremony and Ms. Ressa’s presence there cannot be understated. It is necessary and urgent travel for Ms. Ressa herself: plainly, this is a unique and very unusual situation, and there would be very grave prejudice to her were she to miss this opportunity. Put simply, she will not be awarded a second Nobel Peace Prize; this is a once in a lifetime occasion. Her non-presence in Oslo on Dec. 10, 2021 would undoubtedly cause her irreparable damage and prejudice.”
The reply reiterated that Ressa’s travel to Noway would be in the interest of the Philippines’ international standing. However, her absence at the event “would be both conspicuous and difficult to explain,” it added.