Court of Tax Appeals OKs Ressa's travel to Oslo for Nobel prize

Court of Tax Appeals OKs Ressa's travel to Oslo for Nobel prize
This file photo taken on March 29, 2019 shows Philippine journalist Maria Ressa waving to photographers after posting bail outside a court building in Manila. The 2021 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded on October 8, 2021 to journalists Ressa (Philippines) and Dmitry Muratov (Russia).
AFP / Maria Tan

MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Tax Appeals has approved Rappler CEO Maria Ressa's motion to be allowed to travel to Oslo in Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

In a copy of the decision released to reporters, the court's First Division said that Ressa can travel outside the Philippines from December 8 to 13. It also said that she must inform the court and provide proof of her arrival in the Philippines within three days of her return. 

The court cited an April 2019 order that a motion to be allowed foreign travel will granted "subject to similar conditions imposed in previous travel authorities" if prosecutors do not file an objection or comment within three working days from receipt of the motion.

It said that prosecutors on ongoing tax-related cases against her and Rappler did not file any comment or opposition to Ressa's motion. 

Ressa, along with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, are being honored by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, "for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace."

In its announcement, the committee said the two "are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions." 

The Court of Appeals last week granted Ressa's motion to travel to Oslo on the same dates, saying also that she was being allowed to travel "only for the purpose of attending the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony."

Ressa and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. are appealing a conviction for cyber libel.

In granting the motion, the CA said that Ressa's trip to receive the award is urgent and necessary and that her submission of her itinerary and travel details indicates she is not a flight risk.

Ressa  — who has faced a series of cases since earning the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte, his officials and his supporters  — has been named among the respondents in libel cases filed by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi over reports on the sale of 90% of the shares in the Malampaya gas project to Dennis Uy-led Udenna Corp. — Jonathan de Santos with Kristine Joy Patag

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