OSG opposes Ressa’s Norway trip to receive Nobel Peace Prize: ‘No necessity and urgency’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 25) — The Office of the Solicitor General tried to block journalist Maria Ressa’s travel bid, noting that there is “no necessity and urgency” for her to personally claim the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway in December.

Ressa, the first Filipino to be awarded a Nobel Prize, earlier filed with the Court of Appeals a motion to travel to Oslo from December 8 to 13.

“There is no showing that accused-appellant Ressa’s in person attendance thereto is necessary or her non-attendance in person to the events in Oslo, Norway would cause irreparable damage or prejudice to her,” the OSG said in its opposition.

It added that the letter from the Norwegian Nobel Institute to Ressa, co-founder and chief executive officer of news website Rappler, is a “mere invitation.”

“Admittedly, there are alternative means by which accused-appellant Ressa may participate in the enumerated events, such as through videoconferencing and other technological applications,” said OSG.

It said said Ressa is a flight risk, citing her previous statements wherein she criticized her June 2020 cyber libel conviction over a 2012 investigate article published by Rappler.

“Her persistent use of the online fora to discuss her cyber libel conviction reflects her lack of respect, not just for the Honorable court, but for the justice system in general,” it said.

“Essentially, these actions imply that accused-appellant Ressa no longer believes that our judiciary is still capable of dispensing impartial justice,” the OSG added. “With her conviction, coupled with her views on the justice system, accused-appellant Ressa can be considered a flight risk.”

Ressa’s camp

In response to the Solicitor General’s opposition, Ressa’s camp said the invitation from the Norwegian Nobel Institute clearly states that she is expected to attend in person.

“It is a necessary and urgent travel for Ms. Ressa herself: plainly, this is a unique and very unusual situation...Put simply, she will not be awarded a second Nobel Peace Prize,” her lawyers said in document filed with the Court of Appeals.

Her absence at the event, the document said, "would be both conspicuous and difficult to explain" and "would severely damage the Philippines’ interest internationally.”

Her lawyers also argued that there is no rational basis that the criticism of her conviction renders her a flight risk.

“Ms. Ressa has on all occasions since these proceedings and other proceedings against her, commenced, complied with her bail condition and returned to the Philippines following travel abroad, despite her expressing criticism of the prosecutions at these times,” they said.

The appellate court earlier granted her motion to fly abroad from October 31 to Dec. 2, deeming her in-person attendance in a series of lectures in Harvard Kennedy School in Boston, Massachusetts as “necessary and urgent.”

The CA also found humanitarian grounds as Ressa also intended to visit her parents in Florida during the trip.