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OSG blocks Ressa’s Norway trip to collect $1M Nobel prize

Republika

Following Rappler CEO Maria Ressa’s historic win of the Nobel Peace Prize, it seems the only fly in the ointment is the Office of the Solicitor General.

Ressa is set to receive the award in Oslo, Norway on Dec. 10 this year and has filed a motion with the Court of Appeals to fly to Norway from the United States. However, the Solicitor General Jose Calida, filed an opposition with the court to prevent Ressa from departing, calling her a ‘flight risk.’


One of Ressa’s local lawyers, Ted Te, however, hopes that the CA would uphold the spirit of its Oct. 18, 2021 ruling that enabled the journalist to go to Boston – her current whereabouts – to deliver a series of lectures at Harvard University.


Previously, the Supreme Court allowed travel for convicted individuals. But Calida, in his opposition signed by 12 other assistant solicitor generals and state solicitors, said: “Her recurring criticisms of the Philippine legal processes in the international community reveal her lack of respect for the judicial system which consequently makes her a flight risk.”


He added that personally receiving the Nobel Prize did not comprise urgent and necessary travel.


Ressa, who was convicted of cyberlibel last year, continues to face tax evasion cases, which she believes are moves to silence her and her news outfit. Seven other cases stemmed from one alleging that Rappler breached the Constitution and the Anti-Dummy Law by issuing Philippine Depository Receipts to foreign firm Omidyar Network.


Ressa’s other local lawyer, Francis Lim, handles this Securities and Exchange Commission case. According to him, the regulatory body maintains its earlier 2018 closure order against Rappler and that its donation of its PDRs to Rappler Filipino shareholders did not make a difference. The news site has filed a motion for reconsideration on the SEC ruling.


“We felt, pursuant to many decisions of the Supreme Court, that the subsequent transfer of the disputed shares to qualified Filipinos, qualified transferees, in this case, Filipinos, would cure whatever the defects are. We made a very strong case there, and unfortunately the SEC panel did not ask for our view before submitting its report to the Court of Appeals,” Lim said.


International counsels Amal Clooney and Caoilfhionn Gallagher are optimistic that Ressa will be permitted to go to Norway. They have stated that they would use available “international tools” to ensure their client would be able to receive the Nobel.


“We would like to see the Philippines doing the right thing without having to resort to those international tools,” said Gallagher. “But those international tools are available and we may have to resort to them if the right thing is not done by Philippine authorities.”

Photo: Wikipedia


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