The House of Representatives committee on legislative franchises will conduct a review of the franchise to operate granted to Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI).
In a privileged speech during Tuesday’s session, Quezon Rep. David Suarez denounced what he saw in an SMNI program where hosts claimed Speaker Martin Romualdez spent P1.8 billion in just a year for his travels.
The lawmaker said the reports were categorically false and constituted “fake news.”
“In the spirit of transparency and accountability, I humbly request this august chamber to direct the committee on legislative franchises, in the exercise of its inherent oversight function, to investigate this matter immediately and other similar measures pending with the committee, including this personal and collective privilege,” Suarez told his colleagues.
The legislative franchises panel, chaired by Parañaque City 2nd District Rep. Gus Tambunting, will begin its investigation following a motion on the floor by Lanao del Sur 1st District Rep. Zia Alonto Adiong.
The allegations against Romualdez were made on the SMNI program “Laban Kasama Ang Bayan.”
On Tuesday, House Secretary General Reginald Velasco dismissed the SMNI report as “false and unfounded.”
Velasco said the bloated amount for the Speaker’s travel expenses does not exist.
“These allegations are a clear example of fake news, designed to mislead the public and tarnish the reputation of the Speaker and the entire House of Representatives as an institution,” he said.
“We urge the public and the media to exercise caution and verify facts before sharing such baseless claims,” Velasco added.
According to the Sec-Gen, “the House of Representatives is committed to transparency and accountability, and the Office of the Secretary-General can confirm that such a bloated amount for the Speaker’s travel expenses does not exist.”
Furthermore, Velasco “assures the public that the House was serving the nation with integrity and would continue to focus on its legislative duties, rather than being distracted by unfounded rumors and misinformation.”