SMNI lawyer says network becomes target of unconstitutional ruling

SMNI lawyer says network fiasco stemmed from wrong claims on Speaker

By: - Reporter / @FArgosinoINQ
/ 08:54 PM January 24, 2024

The legal counsel of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) has claimed that the network became a target of what he called an “unconstitutional” ruling.

Photo of SMNI logo from INQUIRER FILES

MANILA, Philippines — The legal counsel of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) has claimed that the network became a target of what he called an “unconstitutional” ruling after one of its hosts questioned whether or not House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez had a P1.8 billion travel expense.

During a television interview, SMNI lawyer Mark Tolentino likewise pointed out that the fiasco is partly political and started with the issue with Romualdez and Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz — the network’s “Laban Kasama ng Bayan” host.


“Parang ganun talaga ang sanhi (It seems that it was the cause),” said Tolentino over ANC on Wednesday.


“[It is] partly political yan, but with the issue of Mr. Eric Celiz, he is just asking a question that was not a statement. Granting that it was a statement, public officials should not be on your skin; they are subject to public criticism. Granting that it is a statement, Mr. Eric Celiz should be punished for that act, not the entire franchise of SMNI,” he added.

Tolentino’s claim came after he called the National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) order to indefinitely suspend the operations of SMNI radio and television stations “unconstitutional.” 

In an order dated January 18, the NTC ordered the network to cease and desist its operations after the commission claimed that SMNI did not comply with its 30-day suspension issued on December 21 last year.

To SMNI’s defense, Tolentino said that all television and radio station managers of SMNI claimed otherwise, as he debunked NTC’s claim that some stations still operated in certain areas in Region 6 (Western Visayas).

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.

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.

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TAGS: House, SMNI, speaker

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