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House panel adopts resolution to suspend SMNI

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A House panel on Tuesday approved a resolution urging the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to suspend the operations of Sonshine Media Network Inc. (SMNI) for violating the terms and conditions of its franchise.

“We voted on that yesterday, [and] there was no objection,” Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Ty Pimentel told CNN Philippines on Wednesday.

Pwersa ng Bayanihang Atleta (PBA) party-list Rep. Margarita Nograles, author of House Resolution No. 1499, said pending the recommendation of the legislative franchises panel, it is the NTC’s duty “to immediately stop the deliberate dissemination of false information that may generate cynicism and mistrust on matters involving public interest.”

“It is clear that SMNI violated its responsibility to the public not to use its stations or facilities for the deliberate dissemination of false information or willful misrepresentation to the detriment of the public interest,” Nograles said.

The panel also found a second SMNI anchor, Lorraine Badoy, in contempt for lying under oath and ordered her detained until it finished its inquiry.

The panel earlier detained an SMNI anchor, Jeffrey Celiz for not revealing the source of his fake news that Speaker Marin Romualdez had spent P1.8 billion in travel expenses from January to October this year. He later apologized to Romualdez but refused to reveal his source of that erroneous claim, saying only that it came from the Senate.

House Secretary General Reginald Velasco said the Office of the Speaker only spent P4.3 million from January to October 2023 for foreign trips.

On Tuesday night, Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr moved to cite Badoy in contempt for lying about the details of advertisements in her program.

Parañaque City Rep. Gus Tambunting, chairman of the House committee on legislative franchises, approved the motion after hearing no objections from the panel’s members.

Tambunting also granted another motion from Abang Lingkod Partylist Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano to detain Badoy until the committee finished its investigation.

Aside from the P100,000 monthly salary of Badoy and Celiz, SMNI counsel Mark Tolentino said the host of the radio program Laban Kasama ang Bayan also received a 25 percent share each from profits of advertisements as the remaining 50 percent of revenue will go to SMNI.

Badoy cited e-fuel, a food cart, and Galileo Water as advertisers of her program after Quezon Rep. David Suarez asked her about the advertisers.

“Actually, there are very few sponsors because the anti-CPP work is not sexy. Nobody wants to touch it,” she said in Filipino and referring to the Communist Party of the Philippines.

But Tambunting expressed concern about Badoy’s lack of awareness regarding her advertisers, after Tolentino revealed that her show had no advertisers.

The advertisers Badoy referred to paid for commercials for the program that preceded hers, he added.

Santa Rosa Rep. Dan Fernandez said Badoy was clearly lying.

Lawmakers also lambasted Badoy for her statement that mocked them for having no love of country.

Before House security officials escorted her to her detention for allegedly lying, Badoy was allowed by Tambunting to make a comment.

“This was the place (House of Representatives) where we could stand on our shared ground of love for country; what I witnessed right now was a travesty,” she said.

Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr, one of the country’s most prominent Baptist pastors who complained during Tuesday’s hearing about being red-tagged by Badoy, also questioned the SMNI host’s statement.

“I do not know how old you are, Madam Badoy. When I fought the NPA (New People’s Army) in 1986, this government almost lost to the NPA. I was there fighting the NPAs. I do not know where you were at that time. So please do not make a monopoly on the love of the country; all of the members of Congress here love our country. That’s why we are here. We are not just politicians; we are people that love our nation. That’s why we are serving our nation, so please do not make that statement to me; it is still a lie, Mr. Chair,” Abante, chairman of the House committee on human rights, pointed out.

Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop, a lawyer and former police brigadier general, also told Badoy she had no monopoly on love of country.

“I have laid down my life very often just to protect this country, and if ever I’m going to be called again, I’ll do it not the way you (Badoy) wanted but the way it is authorized by the government,” Acop, chairman of the House committee on transportation, said in a mix of English and Filipino. “I spent my life fighting for this country, so you do not have to tell me that. I have wagered more than you, so do not give me that crap.”

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