House reps scold SMNI for red-tagging, being ‘a tool for misinformation’ | Inquirer News

House reps scold SMNI for red-tagging, being ‘a tool for misinformation’

/ 12:47 AM December 06, 2023


Lorraine Badoy and Jeffrey Celiz, hosts of the SMNI program “Laban Kasama ng Bayan.” (Photos from the House of Representatives)

MANILA, Philippines — Several lawmakers scolded Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) on Tuesday over some of its hosts’ baseless red-tagging of former Vice President Leni Robredo and several other lawmakers, with one solon labeling it a “tool for misinformation.”

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises is investigating the network for its host’s wrong claim about Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez’s travel expenses.


“It seems that SMNI has a pattern of harassing individuals and entities using false information. I sincerely believe that SMNI is being used as a tool to spread false information with regards to attacking, maligning, destroying the reputation of certain individuals and entities,” Surigao del Sur 2nd District Rep. Johnny Pimentel said.


Pimentel also noted that SMNI, or its legal name Swara Sug, has been facing a lot of cases — not only in courts but also before the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

‘Serial harasser’

“So, Mr. Chair, in this hearing I would like to establish, or rather hopefully establish this pattern of a serial harasser.  Mr. Chair, upon research for the past few days, we have found out that SMNI or Swara Sug for that matter is facing several cases not only in the courts, but in KBP, MTRCB, NTC, and other bodies. I have in my possession some of the cases, Mr. Chair,” Pimentel said.

He mentioned some of the cases and controversial incidents that SMNI was involved in.

Among these, like the case filed by relatives of missing University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, and a case involving broadcaster Atom Araullo and his mother, activist Carol Araullo who were both linked by SMNI to the communist armed movement.

Eventually, Pimentel mentioned SMNI hosts’ attacks against Robredo, prompting him to ask the “Laban Kasama ng Bayan” co-host, former Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, if they had sufficient evidence linking Robredo to communist groups.

“The complaint arises from an SMNI broadcast featuring an interview with [retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito] Palparan conducted by Lorraine Badoy. In this interview, allegations were made associating [former] Vice President Robredo suggesting an alliance with CPP-NPA-NDF.  The broadcast specifically referred to the Bicol Region as being infested with such affiliations,” Pimentel said.


“You accused former Vice President Leni Robredo before, claiming that she has an alliance with communists. Do you have any evidence to prove that former Vice President Leni Robredo had an alliance with communists because you released this statement and accused her of conniving with communists? Because if you cannot prove, or you cannot present evidence, then clearly, this is a testimony that indeed Lorraine Badoy and Ka Eric [Celis] are spreading false information,” he added.

In reply, Badoy said that her statement emanates from the official stand of the past administration and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) — that Robredo is supposedly affiliated with communists.

“Mr. Chair, regarding the former vice president, that statement is not my personal opinion, I stated all those things as the Strategic Communications Cluster Head of the [NTF-Elcac] at that time, and that was in fact the official stand of our government,” she said, speaking partly in Filipino.

“Therefore, it is based on evidence. It was not my personal opinion.”

Nevertheless, Badoy was asked to submit documents that would show Robredo’s alleged links to the communist movement.

More red-tagging

Manila 6th District Rep. Bienvenido Abante, who chairs the House Committee on Human Rights, also called out Badoy and Celis for spreading lies against him — that he was coddling and conniving with communists when he was a House minority leader of the 18th Congress.

“I was a victim, you know that. You talked against me for a while at SMNI, and I refused to answer that because it’s not true, Madam Badoy. Will you please answer this committee right now that I was also a victim of your fake news?” Abante asked.

In response, Badoy said she could not remember an incident where she made fake claims against Abante, but the lawmaker maintained that Badoy should be aware of it since it did not happen a long time ago.

“Mr. Chair, I don’t honestly know what the Honorable Abante is referring to,” Badoy said.

“I think you know, Madam Badoy, you accused me of being a communist. You accused me of being a coddler of the NPA. You accused me [of] that, you did,” Abante replied.

“Mr. Chair, what we — I don’t remember the exact details right now, I’m going to ask my staff to retrieve [the information]. But we didn’t accuse you of being a member of the CPP-NPA,” Badoy said.

When asked how she was able to link Abante to communists, Badoy mentioned that the lawmaker used to support a bill of the Makabayan bloc — composed of left-leaning party-list groups that Badoy has consistently accused of being communist front organizations.

Abang Lingkod party-list Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano — himself a former communist rebel — reminded Badoy that he asked NTF-Elcac officials, like retired Lt. General Antonio Parlade Jr., to just file a case against the so-called fronts.

“Madam Badoy, anyway, you know me and my background. I’m one with you personally in the stand to end this internal conflict in this country […] but at one time also for the record — check the record during the 18th Congress — I stood at the plenary and attacked Parlade for their red-tagging,” Paduano said.

“My challenge at the time is for them to file a case in proper court, not in the media, not in public, and I was not accused of coddling unless there’s a record sa NTF-Elcac that I am part now of the group or individuals that coddles the CPP-NPA?” he added.

False claim

SMNI is currently in hot water after host Jeffrey Celiz relayed during the “Laban Kasama ng Bayan” episode last Nov. 27 that he got information about Speaker Romualdez supposedly spending P1.8 billion for travel expenses.

House Secretary General Reginald Velasco denied the claim, and Quezon 2nd District Rep. David Suarez urged the House to let the Committee on Legislative Franchises exercise its oversight function and probe SMNI about the issue and other complaints against it.

READ: KBP: SMNI not observing Code of Conduct, program host unaccredited

During the hearing last Nov. 30, Velasco clarified that Romualdez and other the House members, along with secretariat officials, only spent a combined amount of P39.60 million from January to October 2023.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

In the previous hearing also, Celiz eventually apologized to the House and Romualdez for airing an unverified figure, adding that it was given to him by a source from the Senate.

TAGS: fake news, Jeffrey Celiz, Lorraine Badoy, red-tagging, Sonshine Media Network International

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.