Padilla seeks probe into ‘baseless’ indefinite suspension of SMNI

MANILA. Senator Robin Padilla.
MANILA. Senator Robin Padilla.Photo from Senator Robin Padilla's Facebook page

SENATOR Robin Padilla is seeking the conduct of a Senate probe into the “baseless” indefinite suspension of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), which is ran by Swara Sug Media Corporation, the broadcasting arm of Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KJC) founded and led by embattled Pastor Apollo Quiboloy.

Padilla filed on Monday, March 11, 2024, Senate Resolution 960, urging the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, which he chairs, to handle the investigation "in aid of legislation."

"The imposition of baseless suspension orders on SMNI not only constitutes a denial of due process but also an erosion of press freedom," Padilla said in his resolution.

He said the National Telecommunications Commission failed to indicate when it issued a show cause and suspension order against SMNI, the need to suspend its operations, much more express how this is necessary to avoid serious and irreparable damage or inconvenience to the public or to private interests.

Padilla cited Section 16(n) of Republic Act 11659, which indicates that the NTC has the power, among others, to "suspend or revoke any certificate issued under the provisions of this Act whenever the holder thereof has violated or willfully and contumaciously refused to comply with any order rule or regulation of the Commission or any provision of this Act.”

“In the absence of proof of serious and irreparable damage or inconvenience to the public or private interests that may be caused by SMNI's continued operations, the general rule shall apply wherein the NTC shall have the power, upon proper notice and hearing, to issue a suspension order pursuant to the Public Services Act,” he added.

Padilla maintained that the right of the people to public information should not be unduly curtailed as access to information on matters of public concern and of general interest helps people make democratic decision-making by providing them a better perspective of vital issues confronting the society.

In November, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises launched an investigation against SMNI after two of its program hosts claimed that House Speaker Martin Romualdez spent P1.8 billion in just a year for his foreign trips.

The two hosts, former anti-insurgency task force spokesperson Lorraine Badoy and Jeffrey Celiz, who claimed to be a former high-ranking official of the New People's Army, were detained at the House of Representatives for a few days after they were cited in contempt during one of the hearings.

Romualdez denied the accusations while Celiz later admitted that the information from his Senate source was unverified.

1-Rider party list Representative Ramon Rodrigo Gutierrez filed House Bill 9710 seeking to revoke the legislative franchise granted to SMNI due to its involvement in the proliferation of fake news as well as red tagging.

The NTC in December ordered SMNI’s suspension for 30 days due to the reported violation of the terms and conditions of its franchise.

In January, the NTC ordered the indefinite suspension of SMNI operation while its administrative case was being resolved. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)


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