SMNI asks Supreme Court to stop indefinite suspension | Inquirer News

SMNI asks Supreme Court to stop indefinite suspension

/ 05:10 AM January 31, 2024

Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI)

APPEAL TO HIGH TRIBUNAL | Sonshine Media Network International reporters and their counsel, Harry Roque, answer questions from the media after they went to the Supreme Court on Tuesday to ask it to stop the suspension order issued against the network by the National Telecommunications Commission. (Photo by MARIANNE BERMUDEZ / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) anchors and reporters went to the Supreme Court on Tuesday to challenge the cease and desist orders issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) that forced them to suspend operations indefinitely.

In a 45-page petition, the SMNI staff and their counsel, former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, asked the high tribunal to issue a temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction against the NTC orders.


They also sought a writ of certiorari “holding that the NTC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction” when it issued the suspension orders that consequently “infringe on [their] fundamental constitutional rights to freedom of expression and of the press.”


The NTC slapped a 30-day suspension order against SMNI on Dec. 19, 2023, based on a resolution from the House of Representatives that urged it to suspend the operations of Swara Sug Media Corp.—operating under the business name SMNI—for violating the terms and conditions of its franchise under Republic Act No. 11422.

These violations, according to the House resolution, included the “deliberate dissemination of false information or willful misrepresentation to the detriment of public interest.”

Second order

The network, however, did not comply with the suspension order, prompting the NTC to issue another one on Jan. 18, this time effective indefinitely.

Aside from the NTC orders, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) on Dec. 18, 2023, also ordered a two-week suspension of former President Rodrigo Duterte’s show “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” (From the Masses, for the Masses) and “Laban Kasama ang Bayan,” a program hosted by anticommunist propagandists Lorraine Badoy Partosa and Jeffrey Celiz.

The MTRCB said its decision came after a “thorough review and investigation” of alleged false reports being spread by the two shows.

The network, owned by evangelist Apollo Quiboloy, incurred the House’s ire in October after Duterte called it in his program “the most corrupt institution” after lawmakers removed the P650 million proposed confidential funds for his daughter, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte.


False information

Partosa and Celiz also appeared before a House inquiry after they were accused of sowing “false information” when the latter claimed that Speaker Martin Romualdez spent up to P1.8 billion for his travel expenses. Celiz later apologized, saying that he failed to verify the information.

“We will see you in court, Mr. Speaker. We will see you in court, NTC. You can’t be the ruling class,” Roque said.

The SMNI staff said in their petition that comments made on the TV programs must be “free from the respondent’s scrutiny.”

“And even assuming that those comments may be considered as scandalous or obscene, seditious or disloyal, or libelous or insulting, due process of law in the form of a court trial must still be observed in order that the persons who uttered them may be held liable for their crimes,” they added.

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“The respondent NTC, not being a court, has no authority to pass judgment and to mete [out] any penalty on SMNI or the petitioners for the things that they said,” they stated.

TAGS: National Telecommuncations Commssion, Sonshine Media Network International, Supreme Court

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