2 SMNI shows suspended; Duterte’s ‘Gikan’ included

2 SMNI shows suspended, Duterte’s ‘Gikan’ included

PLATFORM Former President Rodrigo Duterte has been using his show on SMNI, “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” (Fromthe masses, for the masses), to talk about politics, governance and other issues. —SCREENGRAB FROMSONSHINE MEDIA YOUTUBE

PLATFORM | Former President Rodrigo Duterte has been using his show on SMNI, “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” (From the masses, for the masses), to discuss politics, governance, and other issues. (Screengrab from an SMNI video posted on YouTube)

MANILA, Philippines — Government censors have suspended for two weeks the airing of two SMNI programs, one hosted by former President Rodrigo Duterte, after a “thorough review and investigation” of death threats, profanities, and false reports allegedly broadcast on the shows, targeting certain officials.

The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) on Tuesday announced the 14-day preventive suspension orders on Duterte’s “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” (From the masses, for the masses) and the other show, “Laban Kasama ang Bayan,” hosted by anti-communist commentators Lorraine Badoy and Jeffrey Celiz.


The suspension took effect on Dec. 18, according to an MTRCB memo.


Press freedom watchdogs had mixed reactions to the move.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said that while it was wary of any form of government censorship, “we note that the network was given due process on its potential violations.”

“Freedom of expression and the freedom of the press are not blanket justifications for hate speech, vilification, and threats,” it added.

But University of the Philippines journalism professor Danilo Arao lamented the MTRCB’s “continued power to censor,” which he said must be questioned “in the same way that the House of Representatives’ power to grant broadcast franchises should be challenged.”

The MTRCB presented a detailed timeline of the events that led to its decision, noting that preventive suspension was a “proactive measure aimed at addressing concerns and ensuring compliance with established standards.”

The Inquirer sought an interview with MTRCB Chair Lala Sotto but was told “to first refer to the issued statement.”


Reached separately, SMNI president Marlon Rosete said he had “no comment.”

The MTRCB reported receiving complaints regarding alleged death threats and profane language during the Oct. 10 and Nov. 16 episodes of “Gikan,” a show Duterte hosts with his spiritual adviser Apollo Quiboloy, the owner of SMNI, which stands for Sonshine Media Network International.

In those episodes, Duterte had lashed out at ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro after the latter criticized his daughter, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte, over her request for billions of pesos in confidential funds, which the House leadership later realigned.

“You, France, you communists are the ones I want to kill,” the former president said in the Oct. 10 episode.

Another tirade

After that first incident, the MTRCB said its board held a preliminary conference with SMNI on Nov. 8, during which the network promised to prerecord and review episodes, “having [been] warned by the Board that similar incidents will be dealt [with] more sternly.”

But at the end of November, the MTRCB received a new complaint against “Gikan” after Duterte launched into another tirade threatening Castro.

The lawmaker filed a complaint for grave threats and cybercrime against him in the Quezon City prosecutor’s office in October, the first criminal case against Duterte since he lost his immunity from suit.

Meanwhile, on Nov. 30, the board received a separate complaint about an “unverified news broadcast” on the show “Laban,” falsely reporting that Speaker Martin Romualdez had spent P1.8 billion in travel expenses.

On the same day, the House legislative franchises committee launched an inquiry into SMNI’s alleged franchise violations.

On Dec. 5, “Laban” hosts Badoy and Celiz, both known for “red-tagging,” or branding activists and critics as communists, were held in contempt by the House panel and detained for one week for evasive answers about their allegation against Romualdez.

On Dec. 7, SMNI, represented by counsel Mark Tolentino, was ordered to appear before the MTRCB’s hearing and adjudication committee for the offenses involving the two shows.

‘Long overdue’

On Dec. 13, “a unanimous decision was reached” to impose a two-week suspension on “Laban” and “a majority vote” for “Gikan.”

“The decision aligns with the powers granted to the MTRCB by Presidential Decree No. 1986, ensuring that television programs adhere to contemporary Filipino cultural values,” the body said, referring to the MTRCB’s founding document.

Castro said the MTRCB’s action was “long overdue.”

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“But at last, now something has been done to curtail the constant Red-tagging, spreading of disinformation, fake news, and threatening of individuals using these two shows as well as the network,” she said.

TAGS: Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa, Rodrigo Duterte, Sonshine Media Network International

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