House monitors health of detained SMNI hosts who are on hunger strike
MANILA, Philippines — The Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) hosts who were ordered detained by a House panel are in good shape, having been provided sugary drinks and a physician to monitor their health, Parañaque City 2nd District Rep. Gus Tambunting said on Monday.
In an interview with reporters, Tambunting mentioned several energy and electrolyte drinks that have been given to Laban Kasama ng Bayan hosts Jeffrey Celiz and former Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, who were both cited for contempt by the House committee on legislative franchises.
Celiz and Badoy, who were dragged into the limelight after the House panel probed Celiz’s wrong claims that Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez spent P1.8 billion for travel expenses, staged a hunger strike in protest of their detention.
“They’re very well, may Pocari, may sugar, may Gatorade, okay naman ho sila. Yes, they’re taking sugary drinks, maayos naman po. At maganda ang kanilang kalagayan,” Tambunting, chairperson of the committee on legislative franchises, said.
(They’re very well, they have Pocari, sugar, Gatorade, they’re doing okay. Yes, they’re taking sugary drinks, they are in good condition.)
“There’s a doctor seeing them every now and then […] they are very, very well,” he added.
Tambunting also said that Celiz and Badoy are staying in separate cells.
“Parang may, there’s, ‘yong isa may division sa kaliwa, on the right naman si Ka Lorraine,” he noted.
(There’s a division where one is on the left while Lorraine is on the right.)
SMNI lawyer Mark Tolentino said that the duo have been staging the hunger strike for six days already, saying that Celiz and Badoy have been drinking water only.
Tolentino also disputed claims of netizens that what Celiz and Badoy are doing is merely intermittent fasting, as the detained hosts have supposedly not touched the food given to them,
“Six days na nag hunger strike sila, tubig lang iniinom nila for six days, of course dun panindigan po nila, so boluntaryo po nila ginagawa yun. Konting payat, konting pamumutla, konting may sakit sa laman, walang laman ang tiyan,” he said.
(They have been on a hunger strike for six days, only consuming water; of course, they would maintain that; they voluntarily did that. They became slightly thinner, pale, bits of body pain here and there due to lack of food.)
“No it’s not intermittent fasting. Six days 24/7 walang kain, tubig lang. Kahit pinapaamoy namin yung mga manok, hindi talaga kinakain, nagdala kami lechon, inamoy lang nila but di nila kinain,” he added.
(No it’s not intermittent fasting. They are without food for six days, 24/7, only water. Even if we let them smell chicken, they would not eat that. We brought them roasted pig, but they chose to smell that, they did not eat anything.)
SMNI was probed by the panel after Celiz’ claims, which was disputed by House Secretary General Reginald Velasco — who said that the entire House spent P39.60 million and not P1.8 billion as Celiz claimed.
Celiz apologized to the panel and to Romualdez after admitting that his source was wrong, but the hearings eventually led to greater scrutiny of the network’s franchise. Some lawmakers believe SMNI breached rules stated in its franchise, which can be grounds for revocation.
Earlier, the panel adopted House Resolution (HR) No. 1499, which seeks to urge the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to suspend the operations of SMNI.
The original resolution was filed by Nograles last December 5, calling for the suspension of Swara Sug Media Corporation’s operation for supposedly violating the terms and conditions of its franchise under Republic Act No. 11422.
Swara Sug Media Corporation is the business name of SMNI.