SMNI disputes NTC's suspension order as unconstitutional | Inquirer News

SMNI disputes NTC’s suspension order as unconstitutional

By: - Reporter / @FArgosinoINQ
/ 11:12 AM January 24, 2024

NTC orders SMNI to stop operations indefinitely


MANILA, Philippines — The National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) order to indefinitely suspend the operations of the Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) radio and television stations “is unconstitutional,” the network’s legal counsel said on Wednesday.

“We believe na yung suspension order of the NTC is unconstitutional and in grave violation ng ating Saligang-Batas because it is very clear na ang jurisprudence natin na any decision or ruling ng any government agency that affects freedom of press or freedom of expression are presumed unconstitutional,” SMNI lawyer Mark Tolentino said in an interview over ANC.


(We believe that NTC’s suspension order is unconstitutional and violates our constitution. It’s very clear in jurisprudence that any decision of government agencies that affects freedom of the press or freedom of expression is presumed unconstitutional.)


Tolentino likewise debunked NTC’s claim that SMNI did not comply with its 30-day suspension or still operated in certain areas in Region 6 (Western Visayas).

“We checked all our station managers; all of the radio and TV stations were not in operation, or we complied with the suspension order of the NTC,” the lawyer clarified.

READ: NTC orders SMNI to stop operations indefinitely

He added that SMNI also responded to the commission’s cease and desist order after the latter denied its motion to inhibit and motion for a bill of particulars — which he said is filed to make NTC’s allegations more specific.

“We are unsure of our alleged violation and cannot answer it if it is not there. We are asking for clarification so we can respond. So when they denied the motion to inhibit, we filed an answer with caution,” Tolentino disclosed.

“Unfortunately, they said in their cease and desist order that we failed to answer, but that is not true; we answered after the denial because under the rules, if the motion for a bill of particulars is denied, we have five days to file the answer and we filed the answer of the alleged violation that is not there,” he stressed.


READ: NTC suspends SMNI operations for 30 days

The administrative case of SMNI stemmed from House Resolution No. 1499, which pointed out the network’s violations against the terms and conditions of its franchise under Republic Act No. 11422.

Rep. Margarita Nograles of the PBA Party-list, the resolution’s principal author, stressed that Section 4 of SMNI’s legislative franchise prohibits the network from utilizing its stations or facilities to disseminate misleading information.

The lawmaker pointed this out after Jeffrey Celiz, one of the hosts of SMNI’s “Laban Kasama ng Bayan,” claimed that House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez’s travel expenses reached P1.8 billion, which was debunked by lawmakers saying that the lower chamber only spent P39.60 million for its travels between January and October of 2023.

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