Solicitor General Jose Calida, along with a dozen other assistant solicitors general and state solicitors, wrote in an opposition filing that Ressa was a “flight risk” because “her recurring criticisms of the Philippine legal processes in the international community reveal her lack of respect for the judicial system,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
Other organizations pushed the court to allow the Nobel recipient to travel.
“We urge the government of the Philippines to immediately withdraw any such restrictions and allow her to travel to Oslo,” a spokesman for U.N. Secretary General António Guterres told reporters in New York.
Norwegian Nobel Committee Secretary Olav Njølstad said he was “pleased" by the court’s decision. “It will be a disgrace for any nation not to release its citizens to travel to Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize," Njølstad said in a statement to The Washington Post.
The journalist has previously been allowed to leave the Philippines, including as recently as last month for lectures at Harvard University.
Ressa jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize in October with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov for their efforts to “safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”
Ressa is facing a number of charges, including a corporate case with a regulator and charges for tax evasion. She is free on bail while she appeals a six-year prison sentence for cyber-libel — a case that many saw as a blow to press freedoms.
Supporters see the charges against Ressa, along with threats against her generally, as punishment for her tough scrutiny of Philippine government policies, including President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
The executive board of the International Press Institute, of which Ressa is a member, penned a statement calling for the government to allow her to attend the Nobel ceremony and drop all charges.
The group wrote that it was “deeply disturbed” that Philippine authorities were seeking to prevent Ressa from traveling to Oslo, adding that historically only a handful of regimes have blocked Nobel Peace Prize laureates from attending their awards ceremonies.
The Nazi Party in Germany refused to release 1935 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Carl von Ossietzky, a German journalist and pacifist, from a concentration camp and unsuccessfully demanded that he decline the prize. He was the last working journalist to have won the award before Ressa and Muratov.
Von Ossietzky had refused to leave Germany in the early 1930s, saying that “a man speaks with a hollow voice from across the border,” according to his Nobel biography.
In 2010, Liu Xiaobo, a dissident academic and writer, was represented by an empty chair at his Peace Prize ceremony as he was serving an 11-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power,” the BBC reported. He had helped draft a democratic manifesto calling for reforms in China, including a broader respect for human rights.
In 1991, Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the prize “in recognition of her brave struggle for democracy in Myanmar” while still under house arrest by the military government.
Polish trade union leader and later president Lech Walesa did not attend his 1983 ceremony for fear that he would not be permitted to reenter Poland as the government press attacked his award.
“You are aware of the reasons why I could not come to your Capital city and receive personally this distinguished prize,” he wrote in his speech, delivered by his wife. “On that solemn day my place is among those with whom I have grown and to whom I belong — the workers of Gdansk.”
When Soviet nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov won the 1975 Peace Prize, his wife delivered his speech, saying Sakharov’s presence at the ceremony was “impossible” because of “certain strange characteristics” of their home nation, the Soviet Union. (His trip to Oslo had been barred by the Soviet government.) Instead, she continued, the Nobel laureate was “standing out in the street, in the cold,” awaiting the sentence of his closest friend and fellow dissident, scientist Serghey Kovalyev.
"The list of governments that have prevented Nobel Peace Prize laureates from attending the ceremony is short, but striking,” the International Press Institute wrote in its Nov. 30 appeal for Ressa’s ability to travel. “We assume the Philippines does not wish to be mentioned in the same breath as these repressive regimes.”
If Ressa makes it to Oslo on Dec. 10, she will arrive as President Biden’s virtual “Summit for Democracy,” to which the Philippines is invited, is underway.