KBP: SMNI not observing Code of Conduct, program host unaccredited
MANILA, Philippines — Aside from fielding unaccredited broadcasters, Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) also did not observe the Code of Conduct when hosts claimed that Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez spent P1.8 billion for his travels, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) said.
KBP general counsel Atty. Rudolph Jularbal said this on Thursday when members of the House committee on legislative franchises like Antipolo 2nd District Rep. Romeo Acop asked him to assess the actions taken by hosts and SMNI itself.
SMNI is currently in hot waters after Laban Kasama ang Bayan host and self-proclaimed former rebel Jeffrey Celis said that Romualdez spent P1.8 billion when the actual figure according to House records is only at P4.34 million.
“So he is not accredited as an official member of the Kapisanan ng Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, tama? And did I hear it also right na ang miyembro ay ang network? And therefore if the network is a member of the Kapisanan, it is bound to follow your code of conduct or code of ethics?” Acop said, which Jularbal confirmed.
“And therefore if we follow your logic, if the network is bound by the Code of Ethics or the Code of Conduct of the Kapisanan ng Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, then they should abide with the provisions of the code of conduct […] Now, after hearing all the discussions, the questions and answers this afternoon, would you say that they have followed the provisions of your Code of Conduct?” Acop asked.
“Your Honor, we beg your indulgence, but in the context of what has been presented and of which I am informed in this hearing, the network is lacking in observance of the Code of Conduct,” Jularbal replied.
Quezon 2nd District Rep. David Suarez, who made the speech at the plenary session on Tuesday that eventually resulted in the committee being asked to exercise its oversight functions, meanwhile asked Jularbal what would be the usual practice if a journalist or broadcaster — like Celis — received a tip from an informant.
Suarez asked this because Celis insisted that the figure — the P1.8 billion travel expenses supposedly incurred by Romualdez — was sent by a source in the Senate.
Jularbal said that the normal process would be to verify or counter-check with the party in question, which in this case is the Speaker or the House of Representatives.
“Now my question KBP, what is your usual practice if you receive — for example, you are a broadcaster, at you encounter a similar position like Ka Eric, you have a source that gives you tips and news, then a mystery number told you the same details, what would a KBP member do before releasing the data?” Suarez asked.
“Verification, your Honor, from another source. Or from the party alleged to or being imputed on,” Jularbal replied.
“Now my question is, following our discussions, did they follow those two steps?” Suarez asked again.
“My opinion is they did not, your Honor,” Jularbal answered.
Jularbal also clarified that while the KBP cannot do anything against Celis as he is not an accredited member, SMNI as a member of the KBP is compelled to only field accredited broadcast journalists.
“KBP, he did not get a seminar from you, he is also not a member of KBP. Now the question is, is he no longer mandated to, or bound by the Broadcaster’s Code?” committee chairperson and Parañaque City 2nd District Rep. Gus Tambunting asked.
“Since he is not accredited by the KBP, there’s no direct authority of the KBP over him. However, the authority is over the network who is bound to use only accredited members,” Jularbal said.
The hearings of the House panel were prompted after Suarez called out the network on Tuesday, asking the committee to exercise its oversight function as House Secretary General Reginald Velasco had already denied the existence of a P1.8 billion travel expense supposedly attributable to Romualdez.
The House granted Suarez’s request and directed the panel to start the probe on Thursday.
Earlier, Velasco released figures showing that Romualdez and the rest of House lawmakers and secretariat officials only spent a combined P39.60 million for foreign trips from January 2023 to October 2023 — far from the P1.8 billion claimed by Celis in the SMNI program.