SMNI will get chance to answer issues as it faces losing franchise - House rep | Inquirer News

SMNI will get chance to answer issues as it faces losing franchise – House rep

/ 03:37 AM December 07, 2023

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Rep. Johnny Pimentel (Photo from his Facebook account)

MANILA, Philippines — Beleaguered media company Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) will get a chance to address the issues it faces even if some of the violations already call for franchise revocation, Surigao del Sur 2nd District Rep. Johnny Pimentel said on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters, Pimentel explained that the fate of SMNI’s franchise would still be deliberated by the committee — and not outrightly revoked even if the violations of its franchise under Republic Act No. 11422 already call for an “ipso facto revocation.”


“Well, we are giving them a chance. It was stated in their franchise that it is ipso facto revoked. But to be fair with SMNI we’ll go through the proper process. We will have to render a committee report and then the committee report will be voted upon by the committee and this will be submitted to plenary for adoption,” Pimentel said.


“So we will go through the process. We would no longer pursue ipso facto revocation,” he added.

SMNI is in hot water after a program host relayed that Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez spent P1.8 billion for travel expenses alone. The claim has been disputed during a hearing of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, with Secretary General Reginald Velasco clarifying that the total travel cost for the entire House was only P39.6 million.

Deliberation on franchise violations

When asked again if the panel would recommend revoking SMNI’s franchise, Pimentel said: “It will be deliberated. The committee report will be prepared by the committee secretariat. It will be submitted or presented during the committee hearing. It will be discussed, deliberated, then it will be voted upon by the majority of the members.”

“Then it will go to the Committee on Rules, it will be deliberated again by the Committee on Rules, and then the Committee on Rules will calendar it for business at the plenary. So there is a process, it’s quite long. That is why I cannot give you a timeline really — because we follow processes,” he added.

“Ipso facto revocation,” Pimentel said, is stated as a possible repercussion for SMNI if the network breaches provisions in the franchise. He mentioned Section 10 of R.A. 11422 which mandates the network to inform Congress about the sale of the company to other owners or other major changes

Failure to inform Congress — which SMNI supposedly did — will result in franchise revocation.


“We also saw in Section 10, Sale, Lease, Transfer, Grant of Usufruct or Assignment of Franchise, it is stated under this Section that ‘before they can have a sale or change of ownership ng TV network, or the franchise itself’, they need to ask permission from Congress within 60 days,” Pimentel said.

“However, SMNI did not do that, there was a change of ownership along the way through the years in SMNI. But they did not ask permission from Congress. Now it is stated here, failure to report to Congress such change of ownership shall render the franchise ipso facto revoked, meaning automatic revocation,” he added.

Section 11 also, according to Pimentel, allows the House to revoke the franchise immediately if the media company failed to offer at least 30 percent of its stock to the public.

“Meaning, if they have been granted a franchise, since this is a public utility, they need to sell at least 30 percent of their stock to the public.  The first grant of their franchise, for 25 years, they did not do that.  Now the franchise of SMNI or rather Swara Sug, we renewed it in 2019, four years have already lapsed, they haven’t done that,” he said.

“So this noncompliance shall render the franchise ipso facto revoked again, that’s automatically revoked.  So they have a lot of violations which I believe is a ground for the revocation.  Yesterday, we already moved the resolution urging the National Telecommunications Commission to suspend the operations of SMNI.  I certainly believe that we have grounds to revoke the franchise of SMNI,” he added.

The claim of “Laban Kasama ng Bayan” host that Speaker Romualdez spent P1.8 billion on travel. prompted Quezon 2nd District Rep. David Suarez to urge the House to let the Committee on Legislative Franchises exercise its oversight function and probe SMNI.

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In the first hearing, Celiz apologized to the House and Romualdez for airing an unverified figure, adding that it was given to him by a source from the Senate. He also admitted that the P1.8 billion travel expense was wrong.

TAGS: SMNI franchise, Sonshite Media Network International

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