MTRCB suspension of SMNI show violates 'right to free expression': Duterte

MTRCB suspension of SMNI show violates 'right to free expression': Duterte
Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa program sa SMNI

FORMER President Rodrigo Duterte slammed the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) for suspending his weekly program calling it a violation of his "right to free expression."

MTRCB imposed on Tuesday, December a 14-day preventive suspension order on two programs of the Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI): “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” and “Laban Kasama ang Bayan.” 

Gikan sa Masa is a show hosted by Duterte along with televangelist and SMNI owner Apollo C. Quiboloy. Laban, meanwhile, is hosted by Duterte's former administration official Lorraine Badoy.

In a report from SMNI News, Duterte said, "One, you have to be in gross violation of my constitutional right to free expression. Second, of course, is the outfit I'm using as a platform for violation for press freedom," he said.

"In my view, the suppression of your right to exercise this freedom cannot be subject to preliminary or permanent status. That shouldn't be allowed. The right to free expression is absolute to me. That is how I understood it," he added.

The former chief executive is also facing a complaint of grave threats from Act Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro .

Castro filed charges for violation of Article 282 of the Revised Penal Code against Duterte before the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office for the statements he made over SMNI's Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa where he talked about the confidential fund of his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), meanwhile, has also issued a 30-day suspension of the television network's operations for violations of its congressional franchise.

Davao City-based legislator and Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Partylist Representative Margarita “Migs” Ignacia B. Nograles has put forward a resolution urging the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to suspend the operations of SMNI.

The proposal cites alleged "violations of the terms of its franchise" and the dissemination of "false information" as grounds for suspension.

House Resolution (HR) No. 1499, sponsored by Nograles, contends that SMNI has "failed in its responsibility to the public by deliberately disseminating false information."

The move comes in response to multiple complaints filed against the network including HR 230 and HR 1428 submitted on August 12, 2022, and November 6, 2023, respectively. These complaints accuse SMNI of engaging in "fake news peddling and baseless red-tagging of individuals, groups, and organizations."

On November 29, Quezon Province Second District Representative David "Jay-jay" Suarez criticized the host of SMNI's show "Laban Kasama ng Bayan" for claiming that House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez spent P1.8 Billion on foreign travel in a year. 

Suarez challenged the host, Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz, to reveal the source of this information. 

A financial report from the Office of the Secretary-General contradicted the claim, stating that the House’s travel budget was only P39.6 million, with Speaker Romualdez accounting for P4 million.

Celiz later admitted on air that the information he provided was inaccurate and not validated. RGL

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